Customer Experience

New study finds 3 top priorities for CX leaders

Originally published on Forbes.com

Since the pandemic began, Net Promoter Scores have collapsed across all 20 industries benchmarked by the XM Institute. As consumer behavior zigzags in response to COVID-19, customer experience gaps have emerged more dramatically and rapidly than ever. With a quarantine-driven shift to digital and the sudden surge of calls to customer care centers, customer experience programs have not kept up.

The tide has gone out on pure measurement programs, leaving many CX programs exposed. Previously, you could argue a high score meant a successful program. But as NPS scores plummet across the board, now it’s essential to take targeted action to rejuvenate customer experiences. Do that, and the scores will follow.

The tide has gone out on measurement programs

In a study led by IDC's Alan Webber, Program Vice President for Customer Experience, and commissioned by Qualtrics, we uncovered three common themes in what CX leaders at companies with more than 500 employees are prioritizing in their programs:

  1. Invest in the right technology to interpret customer feedback so your team can quickly take action. Among these CX leaders, the most cited challenges were the proliferation of tools used for the customer experience (27%) and customer data being siloed across the enterprise (23%).
  2. Build your team with the right competencies to run a best-in-class CX program; 20% of leaders in the study pointed to the inability to identify the right KPIs to measure CX improvement.
  3. Create a culture of continuous listening among your employees and customers, because one-off or infrequent pulses are ineffective and outdated. CX leaders called out lack of a strategic vision among senior leadership (21%) as a key cultural barrier to improving CX.

Main challenges to improving cx

Technology

CX leaders indicate that their top three technology challenges to understanding the customer are:

  1. Gathering data on customer perception (e.g. how a prospect or customer perceives, or thinks of, the experience that a brand delivers)
  2. Gathering data about customer experience (e.g. how a customer feels about an actual interaction with a brand at some point along the customer journey)
  3. Translating data into customer understanding (e.g. how to interpret customer perception and feedback to understand the key drivers of customer experience)

These technology gaps allow customer experience gaps to proliferate. Our study with IDC found that less than 50% of U.S. consumers say that companies provide a good experience.

To address these three challenges, your CX technology must be adaptable and personalizable.

Adaptable technology allows you to increase response rates by listening to your customers in the channels they prefer (like SMS, in-person, or voice-response). And listening well requires you to adapt your CX questions to a shifting environment (like a pandemic, decreased buyer demand, or negative publicity).

Personalizable technology allows you to customize how and when you engage with customers. If customers' data indicates they prefer texts, don’t send email. If their purchase history shows they’re a high-value customer, your tech should trigger white-glove resolution instead of automated responses.

“Technology plays a key role – the technology the brand has and the technology the customer uses – in conjunction with culture, business processes, and intelligence. These realizations drive brands to adopt technologies to improve the experience of their customers,” according to Webber.

Unless you implement technology that can gather customer data efficiently and surface actionable intelligence across your team, the gap will only increase over time.

Competency

Acquiring good customer experience technology does not mean you’ve built a good program. As traditional customer services have been forced to shift, companies have had to act quickly, like Peloton, which rearranged key roles and rewrote processes within days to keep customers satisfied.

That kind of action requires a team with the competencies to understand CX data and mobilize a company response. For example, as scores dropped and customer feedback has dried up during the pandemic, organizations have had to tap other sources of insight, like front-line workers or social media trends.

Together, competency and technology help build the culture.

These are examples of the six core competencies such as “Respond”, which focuses on driving improvements based on customer insights, or “Disrupt”, which emphasizes identifying and creating experiences to differentiate your organization. To help build competencies such as these, find the experts and resources for your team to connect and learn from other CX leaders.

Culture

CX leaders shared that their final obstacle in trying to understand the customer and improve their experiences was creating an aligned culture of employee empowerment and organizational action to adjust to the dynamic nature of the customer journey.

Think of DoorDash, whose business has surged during the pandemic. A near-weekly stream of new initiatives since March shows a culture that is dialed into the needs of customers and is capable of acting quickly on what it hears. The result: A surge to 45% market share against fiercely competitive rivals.

Previously, you could argue a high score meant a successful program; now it’s essential to take targeted action

Together, competency and technology help build the culture. “Recognize that delivering a differentiated experience requires the whole organization and the merging of both operational and customer data,” Webber notes. Without the same ownership mindset or goals on customer experience, no level of technology or competency will be successful.

Technology, competency and culture are the key ingredients of an effective and impactful customer experience program. They will help organizations weather the current storm and be more prepared for the next one.


Download the full IDC InfoBrief: Building an Actionable Understanding of Your Customer