Customer Experience is now the key battleground for consumers’ purses and wallets – 89% of companies surveyed by leading analyst Gartner this year say that CX will be their primary basis for competitive differentiation.
So how can organisations like yours find that elusive formula for success for their CX strategy?
Attitudes to the impact of authoritative research for shaping CX are changing. You can’t rely on gut instinct as to what works or needs to change – you’ve got to be ready to invest in the right tools for the job, to understand exactly what you need to do to win and retain the custom of your target audience.
Today, large sums of money are made available by business owners to invest in Customer Experience. However, in the age of Big Data, where there’s seemingly so much choice, budget holders are still unclear how to develop a clear and cost-effective strategy; clearly demonstrated by the Maritz CX Evolution Global Study which reported that 72% of CX professionals considered that their company’s CX programme was “not very effective”.
What Are Your Goals?
Setting a strategy starts with clarifying your goals. You want to give and get value through the customer experience, but will you achieve this delivering proactive customer service, or by increasing customer loyalty or selling more through each customer interaction?
Each goal requires a different tactical plan.
Where companies get things wrong is that they elect to spend all their resources on tracking the consequences of their customer experience, the outcomes, at the expense of determining the factors that cause those experiences as they unfold. They track Outcome Metrics, instead of focusing on Elemental Metrics.
Outcome Metrics are great – nicely packaged, well promoted by the research community, and theoretically easy to understand across any given business. But they can’t pinpoint or fix the real issues; their role is to produce a figure that indicates the sum of the customer experience. “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” is a question that a customer will (hopefully) answer as a consequence of their experiences at your store/hotel/cinema.
The answer is the sum total of all the ‘micro’ experiences in the “buyers’ journey”. It doesn’t tell you what those experiences were and where you can improve - either in your training, presentation or other elements of your sales process.
Outcome metrics, whether Customer Satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores, certainly have their benefits, principally in enabling you to track progress over time. The same applies to review platforms like feefo and tripadvisor. They’re indicators of general performance, but they’re too simplistic – and they don’t show you how to improve the design of your CX. Which is what this is all about.
The customer experience is complex. It consists of broad factors, such as connection and timing, which break down into smaller elements: smiles, frowns, word choices, answer clarity, and more.
These small elements comprise the customer experience – and they’re what you can actually change. To uncover gaps, opportunities and areas to improve, you need metrics that track your performance with specific criteria.
Imagine you own a sandwich shop and want to sell more sandwiches. A number of factors and elements are involved:
- Product: Do customers like the sandwiches? Is the bread soft? Is the filling tasty?
- Timing: How long do customers wait? Is there music in the background, or POS on the walls, so it doesn’t seem so long?
- Connection: Did the shop staff focus on each customer? Or were they busy talking to each other?
- Competition: Was a sandwich shop nearby offering free coffee with their sandwiches?
You’ll increase sales revenue if you improve underlying factors like sandwich quality, wait time, and staff attentiveness.
But if you only look at your sales numbers, nothing will change.
To get results, you must improve these underlying factors. And acknowledge that each factor is comprised of myriad elements. For example, Connection can depend on acknowledgement, eye contact, body language, tone of voice, level and quality of interaction and parting comment. Improve each element, and you’ll get better connection with your customers. But simply measuring your customer connection won’t tell you what – or how – to improve.
Whilst you can’t improve your connection overnight, you can focus on one of the myriad elements with your team – such as improving tonality, or body language with customers – on an ongoing basis. And by using Mystery Shopping to measure the different elemental metrics, as they are being delivered by your team, you’ll start to understand the different checks and balances that need to be made to drive your CX forward.
The Bottom Line
To maximise your ROI from customer experience, the choice must be a strategy that balances out Elemental and Outcome Metrics – to stop reliance on outcome metrics alone and embrace complexity by measuring and improving elemental metrics.
This will be achieved by implementing a programme of regular Mystery Shopping across your estate and topping this up with an annual or bi-annual customer satisfaction survey to validate the improvements to the customer experience that have been made.
* The article is re-published with the kind permission from Jill Spencer, Vice President MSPA Europe and Director of React CX. You can read the original piece on the MSPA website. Original date of the publication: 18 April 2017.
Image: FreeImages.com/Larry Cole