The customer experience landscape seems to be changing at a rapid pace with focus shifting from programs focused strictly on customer loyalty to a need for an overall customer engagement strategy.
In order to drive customer engagement and revenue, companies are looking to design cutting-edge CX strategies across all channels and touchpoints with measurable impact, connecting new thinking, insights and innovation to an organization’s customer experience story. Over the past few months, our thought leaders have had the opportunity to attend multiple conferences and events focused on the Customer Experience, including the CXPA Insight Exchange, the Next Generation Customer Experience and IIR’s Total CX Leaders conference. Below are a few of the major and noteworthy themes taking the customer experience area by storm.
Interest in “customer centricity” continues to increase industry-wide, although most discussions around the topic tend to be fairly general with no real conversation on how to measure it. A key theme, found in a number of presentations, is the need to create emotional connections with customers through optimizing their total experience with a company, which encompasses multiple touch points. Consequently, companies must develop clear strategies and messages for every touch point, and ensure training is in place to effectively implement these strategies. Every employee interaction with a customer, after all, is an opportunity to create loyalty, or lose it.
CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING
Probably the most popular topic in the CX area is “journey mapping” with its ability to provide organizations with a complete understanding of the customer’s experience. Multiple sessions noted that the real focus of creating journey maps is to understand customers’ emotions experienced at each stage of the journey. Viewing the company/customer relationship from the customer’s perspective is the only way to be truly customer-focused. Journey mapping not only allows companies to identify and eliminate irritants for customers, but also presents opportunities for companies to innovate and surprise customers with an experience that exceeds their expectations. Interestingly, journey mapping has become a mini-industry in itself, highlighting its perceived importance as one of the initial stages of a best-in-class research/measurement process.
Many companies are now focusing more on Big Data and Social Media to understand and influence CX, and less on more traditional primary research. They claim to be optimizing marketing and the customer experience by utilizing such data sources as CRM, Social Media, Call Centers and others. As an example, General Motors mentioned the company is cutting back on surveys and relying more on social media, open end questions and text analytics to develop and monitor the success of their CX strategies.
In recent years, interest in the role of emotions and non-conscious measurement has drastically increased. Multiple companies highlighted the importance of identifying and measuring customers’ emotions at each stage of their journey, with the end goal of using this information to optimize experiences and create a stronger bond. The difficulty associated with effectively doing this, however, is seen in the fact that very few have actually implemented an emotional component in their loyalty metric.