by Xavier Quenaudon & Megan Nicollerat
In my final interview with Xavier Quenaudon, we sat down and discussed the role of customer engagement in today’s world…and where it might go next.
So here we are at end of 2018, “The Year of Humanity” for the Customer Experience profession as identified by the Temkin Group. Is this where CX is headed? If not, what do you think is in store for CX Management this year and beyond?
MORE FOCUS ON THE STORY AND THE CUSTOMER, LESS FOCUS ON THE NUMBERS
Certainly, the way we approach CX needs to continue to evolve – and the way the Temkin Group identified it in 2018 is extremely relevant. One change I have observed in this discipline is the evolution from a numbers-driven approach toward an approach that is gradually more inclusive of “qualitative touches” and “human elements.” For instance, we have looked more and more at the role emotions play in the realm of understanding what drives customer loyalty; we have found it is not uncommon for emotions to explain around 50% of customers’ purchase decision. 50% – that’s huge! And yet, emotions is something that most companies did not include in their customer measurement programs just a few years ago!
We have also started to embrace storytelling in a way that integrates other “human elements” of engaging with customers such as empathy and experience, and have removed some of the focus on numbers. This was supported by the realization that to understand customers, a company needed to take an “outside-in” view – rather than the traditional “inside-out” approach. “Outside-in” refers to looking at how our external stakeholders (customers) perceive and “receive” their experience with the company they’re buying from – as opposed to making assumptions as to how internal processes and product quality (as defined by the supplier) will be received and perceived by customers.
HOPING FOR FEWER, MORE TARGETED SURVEYS
From a research perspective, I’d like to think the profession as a whole will recognize the need to reduce the number of surveys and, instead, adopt an approach that is more needs-based – rather than opportunity-based. Today, most agree that customer feedback programs should be part of the experience a customer has overall – and should be supportive of that experience, rather than being intrusive.
There is also a move toward letting the customer provide feedback on his or her own terms – whether in terms of mode, timing, or topic. At that point, it truly is feedback, as opposed to research. And the two should not be confused: one is anecdotal, while the other is empirical. Overall, this goes back to understanding all the options for capturing some type of “feedback” from customers, identifying what role each option plays within a holistic CX program, and defining what business question it addresses.
TRULY MAKING THE MOST OF “BIG DATA”
I am also quite hopeful that the nut to “linkage models” will finally be cracked! Certainly, there have been some very successful initiatives linking survey data to financial data; but at best, these are usually based on correlations and therefore are descriptive – as opposed to predictive. As we improve on designing data with that end goal in mind, such models should become easier to implement and execute. At the moment, we’re still in a reactive mode for the most part (e.g. “what data do we have?”). Now that the focus on CX has intensified greatly, the next step is to proactively design internal data sets so that causal relationships are easier to test and, hopefully, validate.
What about people who talk about “Customer Centricity”? Is this a fad or does it have staying power?
There’s no denying that the value from CX signals that it is here to stay – particularly as it becomes the main differentiator for most brands who are selling “an experience” more than a product or service. So, I think that successful companies in the coming years will be those who walk the talk and truly embrace a philosophy of aligning the strategy and their organization to the customer. This means that organizations will need to develop a customer-centric culture which employees actually perceive and experience on a daily basis – so that customers can in turn receive and experience that culture every time they buy from and interact with an organization.
With a passion for everything and anything Customer Experience, Burke SVP Xavier Quenaudon partners with companies seeking to take their CX program to the next level, by pushing them to advance their customer research, learning, and insights; making the most of the data that they have; and driving cultural and operational changes that impact Customer Loyalty and engagement.
As Marketing Manager, Megan Nicollerat oversees all of Burke’s marketing initiatives and works closely with multiple departments at Burke to increase her knowledge and expertise on research techniques.