Achieving satisfactory and memorable customer experiences (CX) can be a difficult feat. Especially when you realise that customer experiences are based on intentional strategies, extensive planning and thorough training.
Understanding the moving parts involved with achieving CX will ultimately help you navigate the design and implementation processes involved with customer experiences. But before you go about understanding how to achieve CX, you’ll need to unpack what this buzzword actually means.
What is CX?
CX refers to the perceived experience that a customer assumes with your company (Pogrebniak, 2019). Although a seemingly simple definition, it still seems to capture the key aspects of the concept, while remaining as relevant today, as it was 20 years ago.
This definition suggests that we can never fully determine CX as it is always based on the subjective response of the customer. Even though an organisation can influence the experience that they intend the customer to have, the company cannot perfectly define the experience due to the unpredictable emotions and unexpected behaviours that the customer may undergo before, during, and after coming into contact with your brand.
This experience is also further determined by the way in which you choose to interact with your customer. This can either be a ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ interaction.
The Importance of CX
A business cannot operate and will cease to exist without its customers, hence the fundamental need to focus on delivering great customer experiences. A positive CX will lead to winning new business, and perhaps more importantly, retentions.
Benefits of CX include and are not limited to:
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Word-of-mouth marketing
- Improved brand reviews and recommendations
- Increased business development
- Improved client retention
What is CX Management?
Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is often simply defined as tracking and understanding your customers’ experience, acting on that understanding and closing this gap with the customer (Pogrebniak, 2019). This management process makes use of several metrics, including:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) surveys
- Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews (CATI)
All of which are useful in the collection of customer feedback.
How to be an effective CX Leader
More often than not, a CX Leader is judged on two separate aspects: what they know and what they do. Formal know-how around topics including behavioural economics, research, financial acumen (ROI is always going to be important), strategy and culture are instrumental in the success of a CX Leader.
CX Leaders are therefore expected to:
- Spend significant time talking to both employees and customers.
- Leverage small or quick wins to build momentum (and budget) for larger initiatives.
- Work across departments – looking to bring customer perspectives into the organisation’s internal culture and processes.
- Keep their Voice of the Customer & Voice of the Employee as their guiding metric
Core skills that a CX leader should possess
- Program management skills
The single most important skill set needed for customer experience improvement is program management (Fitzgerald, 2019). This role is crucial as it ensures the success of various projects in a way that meets the client’s strategic framework. Undervaluing this role often results in failed projects, that do not only derail initiatives but ultimately prevent business growth.
- Interpreting Data
In order to ensure structured customer interpretations, CX Leaders must be skilled in data collection, statistics and Natural Language Processing. At its most basic level, data interpretation is the ability for the CX Leader to acquire useful and usable information that will help inform various decision-making processes.
- Interpreting Unstructured Data
CX Leaders will make use of various customer feedback systems, including the Net Promoter System. These systems often produced unstructured data. These are text answers to open-ended questions that are forwarded to customers. This includes questions like “What could we do better?”. This data will then need to undergo a quality control operation in order to check that the acquired data is placed into the correct systems and categories.
- Presentation skills
The final skill the CX professional must possess is the ability to present compellingly. While a formal course on such skills is suggested, it is often not enough – one has to be a storyteller (Fitzgerald, 2019). Good presentation skills in the workplace require organisation, through preparation and confidence.
CXM: The best practice capabilities of CX Leaders (Hinshaw, 2019)
- Experience Strategy: This is aligned with your brand and business strategies. It is essentially your “north star” for you to deliver on the expectations set by your brand.
- Customer Understanding: Deep insights are done on customer wants, needs, and perceptions. This provides the foundation for design, delivery and the benchmark for customer expectations.
- Experience Design + Innovation: This capability allows you to design products, services and experiences that meet customer needs and differentiate your business from its competitors.
- Governance: Despite its tedious overtone, governance is critical to effectively prioritize investments, guide delivery and hold the business accountable for improving end-to-end experiences.
- Culture: A customer-centred culture helps align the behaviour of your staff, and the meaning they attach to those behaviours (e.g. rewards, social cues) when around the customers.
- Measurement: Gauging the CX metrics that drive business results are critical in understanding delivery and its impact on business performance.
- Technology: Technology is a comprehensive tool that enables your organization to understand, distribute, deliver and support the customer experience.
- Processes: These are the systems your organization develops and enables that in turn support the design, delivery and management of customer knowledge, data and experiences.
As we can see, customer journeys consist of a progression of touchpoints that together add up to successful customer experiences. Ultimately, seeing the world as your customers do, will help better organise and mobilise your employees around customer needs. This will ultimately contribute to the success of your organisation.
Pogrebniak, A., (2019). What is the Customer Experience in 2019 According to 15 CX Experts. Experts in the Spotlight. https://lumoa.me/blog/customer-experience
Fitzgerald, M, (2019). What Are the Four Core Skills Customer Experience Leaders Must Possess? My Customer https://www.mycustomer.com/experience/loyalty/what-are-the-four-core-skills-customer-experience-leaders-must-possess
Hinshaw, M., (2019). Customer Experience Management (CXM): The Best-Practice Capabilities of CX Leaders. Customer Think http://customerthink.com/customer-experience-management-cxm-the-best-practice-capabilities-of-cx-leaders/