CX Goes Global: Here’s How

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This post comes from chapter 14 of MaritzCX’s new book Customer Experience is Your Business. Download the free ebook here.

How can CX programs serve both the needs of a global HQ and the needs of individual markets?

The phrase “Think global: Act local” is easy to say — but very difficult to achieve in practice. In fact, many organizations struggle just to deliver a program that works at all on a global or multi-regional level.

Global customer experience (CX) leaders must not underestimate the challenges of executing a global program. Multiple stakeholders with local market needs make governance of a global program very difficult. Add to the mix different data collection preferences in markets and the availability (or nonavailability) of good customer data, and the process becomes even harder. Finally, account for research differences and data protection legislation around the world, and the process of scorecarding CX around the world looks almost impossible. It is not.

However, it requires the help of a partner who has experience running complex global CX programs. This is paramount to providing insight on how to do global and local well. Good starting points are the following ten elements to be considered when rolling out an effective global CX program:

  1. DEFINE WHAT GLOBAL MEANS TO YOUR ORGANIZATION: This may sound obvious, but if global means “I need my three KPIs measured the same way around the world,” this is different from “I want the CX program to be 100% the same in all markets,” or “I only want to see cost efficiencies by taking my local programs global.”
  2. HAVE A GLOBAL STAKEHOLDER: Driving sufficient commonality will likely require give and take at a market level. Scales will need to be aligned; question wording for those driving KPIs may need harmonizing. A global stakeholder can enable these changes and get local management buy-in.
  3. UNDERSTAND THE DATAFLOWS: Dataflows are key. It is true that in CX, garbage in means garbage out. Sorting dataflows almost always takes more time and effort than organizations estimate.
  4. UNDERSTAND PRIVACY AND PII DATA LEGISLATION ON A GLOBAL LEVEL: This has become a minefield, and incorrect application of laws can cost businesses millions of dollars. A partner who knows the Global CX business is vital.
  5. EXPECT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IMPACTING RESULTS: “Great” is not the same everywhere, as it reflects that expectations are met or exceeded — and those differ significantly by region and culture. People’s expectations of service are not the same in Melbourne, Mumbai, Manchester, and Minneapolis. Furthermore, not all countries use scales the same way; for example, customers in some markets will be very unlikely to ever score ’10,’ so scores are not identical for comparison from one market to another. Cultural differences can impact scorecards, so the interpretation of global performance needs careful management.
  6. UNDERSTAND HOW CUSTOMERS IN DIFFERENT MARKETS CAN BEST BE REACHED: The availability of email addresses from customers, the reachability of customers on mobile devices and the general way that customers like to communicate with organizations can differ not only by industry segment and product category, but also by culture and country. An effective CX program accounts for such differences, and an effective CX partner actively supports businesses in accelerating the collection of customer information, including email.
  7. BE SENSITIVE TO LOCAL MARKET NEEDS: In our experience, around 80% of a program can be common throughout the organization — enabling senior management to have a clear view of the business and drive change through the organization. Allowing flexibility for markets and regions in the other 20% brings less resistance, more local buy-in to the global goals and allows for the program to be most relevant and effective in each participating market.
  8. UTILIZE A TECHNOLOGY THAT SUPPORTS FLEXIBILITY: Given the different and changing needs of local markets, it is important to implement technology that provides sufficient flexibility and allows for quick changes in one market without affecting the others. Those needs for flexibility can be driven by different customer touchpoints across different markets, by different customer needs, by a different maturity of the brand or the service network, by specific initiatives in a market, etc. All of this can only be done efficiently if the technology used to survey customers, and then analyze, synthesize, and report the data is prepared to support such flexibility.
  9. ACT LOCAL — AND GLOBAL: Any CX initiative must drive action at every level of the organization and should support global and local process changes and customer individual action in order to maximize business outcomes from the initiative. Accountability drives action. Have an action tool implemented as a key component of the technology solution and give authority to each market and to the front-line staff in each market to take action — and to track outcomes.
  10. SHARE BEST PRACTICES: While the nuances of actions taken by CX initiative might well vary by market and by individual customer based on market differences, best practices should be shared across markets to provide guidance and support a steeper learning curve across the global organization.

However, implementing a global program is not the end of the story; rather, it is the necessary beginning. The CX program needs to deliver against very different needs from Head Office and local markets.

Global Needs

Global needs are met by setting clear objectives and having a CX partner who understands global and can consult at all stages of the process. Corporate dashboards bring this data into easily visualized and interpreted form to enable management to see the critical issues and trends and cut through the mass of data created. At the corporate level, data synthesis and interpretation are often the key skills required. Bringing operations metrics into reporting dashboards alongside CX measures can drive insights and corporate strategy setting.

Local Needs

Local needs are often different from global needs. Marketers, retailers, and front-line staff need to be able to act upon the results of CX programs in order to buy in; they need to see CX results creating actionable solutions in real time. Personal case management and key driver analytics, implemented at the local level, ensure that the global CX program is not seen as merely a tool to deliver a Head-Office-mandated scorecard, but instead as a vital component in customer satisfaction, retention, and business performance. This achievement requires local buy-in from project kick-off, regular involvement of the markets, and a program tailored to deliver on the nuances of the local market.

How does the desire to act personally align with the increasing necessity for protecting personal data, and what does that mean for international CX programs?

Two very divergent trends are coming to a head that could potentially change the way the industry does business. On one hand, programs and customer needs are more targeted toward a dialogue with the individual customer. On the other hand, personal data and data-protection regulations are becoming more restrictive. This collision means businesses are facing more challenges than ever when conducting a multi-national CX program, particularly in Europe and Asia.

The legal framework and Code of Conduct for customer privacy are evolving and changing continuously. As there is no global framework on the issue, businesses need to understand the specific rules and regulations of every country in which they operate.

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Opt-in regulations vary even within Europe; the same applies for 0pt-0uts, where there are even differences by channel; e.g., specific rules for online contact opt-outs in the Netherlands. Countries have varying answer to questions like “Is a market research or marketing opt-in required to conduct a CX program?” “What is required for me to be able to enrich my CRM system with the customer data I gathered?” or “Can the customer access all information stored about him?”

While rules and regulations appear to be strict already, they could still become more prohibitive. Violation of data-privacy rights from private companies and governments have opened the door for a new perspective. Discussions of privacy are growing less fact-based, and more emotional and drastic proposals have become common.

The European Union is currently considering revoking the Safe Harbor agreement. Doing so would keep companies from exporting any personal data from Europe, and would allow fines up to 2% of a company’s global revenue for failure to follow this rule. This is a challenge not just for the CX world, but also for social media companies. Russia has a new law in the approval process that would require personal data of Russians to have to stay on servers in the country. And industries like financial services face even stricter rules with future data-protection regulations.

Likely future regulations may require the following:

  • Private data must physically remain in the country of origin; cross-border traffic is not allowed.
  • Data collection is only allowed or feasible in-country
  • All private data about an individual must be made accessible to the person for review, editing, or deletion.

Other factors may also come into play:

  • The diversity of regulations will increase even more as countries in Asia Pacific are just starting to introduce their own frameworks of regulation.
  • US companies need to pay attention and face the risk of suffering from a lack of trust in their willingness to adhere to non-US data-protection standards.
  • European and Asian data owners or processors will gain significant power as the number of users increases. The financial risk of data leaks will be high enough to encourage Information Security departments to demand meeting or exceeding standards or best practices.

We are facing a future that will require different designs to adhere with localized data-protection rules and processes. Multi-country CX programs will require experts and consultancy, not just in technology, analytics, industry-expertise and program management, but also in data-protection legislation and information security.

What are the major future trends of global CX programs, and how can they be addressed today?

In the immediate future, we will see customer feedback measurement programs turning into actionable customer experience management tools.

This means that more companies will continuously engage with customers

  • At all relevant touchpoints along the customer lifecycle (not only post-transaction)
  • In a more personal way (focusing on enhancing the individual customer relationship)
  • Acting in real time.

In order to do so, businesses need to implement CX technology globally to increase both the effectiveness and the efficiency of their CX programs. They can do this by

  • Using systems with dashboards that provide a global view and a local view of the business
  • Synthesizing data from multiple sources (that may vary by industry and by market) to gain greater clarity to derive the most effective action
  • Using big data analytics to make better decisions faster
  • Using automated text analytics that work in a multi-lingual environment
  • Enriching CRM systems with customer feedback data, thus allowing for more relevant individual interaction with each customer
  • Including predictive analytics to influence customer behavior before it happens
  • Providing front-line staff and all stakeholders in the organization with action tools to act relevant and fast on a local level

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To implement an effective, future-oriented customer experience program in today’s world, companies need to have foresight and competence. Their program needs to help them better understand how customers experience a brand at every touchpoint that matters, engage with customers in an easy-to-use and non-intrusive way, and analyze and synthesize the data this provides to detect trends and risks. Additionally, they need tools to distribute the information to key stakeholders in real time, so they can act quickly and personally. Outcomes of an effective customer experience program include a higher retention rate, a growing customer base, and a greater lifetime value for each customer.

The future of customer experience will be rooted in the synthesis of these crucial elements.

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