What Global Brands Get Wrong About the Customer Experience

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There’s a universal truth the world over — bad experiences turn customers away. But the rate of churn after a disappointing encounter isn’t equal across the globe. Customers in some regions are less forgiving after a poor interaction. For instance, while only 32% of consumers worldwide say they’ll walk away after just one bad experience, in Latin America, 49% say they’d stop interacting with a company that they love shopping at or using after only one bad experience, according to a PwC study.

Losing a significant share of customers due to a subpar experience, whether that’s 32% or 49%, is a risk all companies should work to mitigate. And that’s the purpose of monitoring, and implementing strategies to enhance, the customer experience (CX) — to prevent customer experiences from breaking down and minimize customer turnover.

The problem is, for too long, global businesses have adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience across the world. That’s a mistake, one that can be quite costly, especially given the higher likelihood of churn in places like Latin America.

To get retention right, brands need to recognize that each market will have a different idea of what a good — or bad — customer experience looks like and take the appropriate steps to meet these nuanced expectations by localizing the customer experience.

7 Customer Experience Mistakes Global Brands Make

1. Applying the same CX strategies across markets, without listening to customers at the local level

Too often, customer experience teams try to take what they’ve learned from one part of the world and leverage these insights universally. Perhaps they’ve identified common pain points in the customer journey in the U.S. and assume that the same will be true in Latin America. Sometimes the issues are the same, but the emotional reaction the customer has in response might be completely different based on how the consumer views the inconvenience.

That’s why companies need to listen to and observe customers at the local level — via surveys, contact center and messaging channels, social media, and website and app interactions — to draw insights from these interactions to better understand regional variations in the customer experience.

AI-powered text analytics can automatically translate customer conversations and reveal the top issues, points of delight, and other themes being discussed and score customer sentiment. These insights can in turn be analyzed by geographical region for a nuanced understanding of CX, market by market.

2. Using employee training programs developed for one country in another

Corporate teams may try to repurpose existing materials for frontline staff who interact with customers in other markets, without recognizing cultural differences in how teams approach work and how they interpret what good service looks like. While companies typically translate resources if necessary, that’s not enough. Translating resources doesn’t guarantee they’ll be understood. Organizations need to localize — and transcreate — these guidelines in a way that resonates with employees and drives performance and engagement.

3. Comparing CX scores from one country with another, while ignoring the broader context

It’s only natural to want to establish benchmarks for customer experience metrics like NPS® and customer satisfaction and compare these results across regions. The problem is, customers usually rate companies very differently based on their cultural backgrounds. In some parts of the world, people tend to be much stricter graders while others are more lenient. Relying on quantitative scores alone won’t provide a complete view of company performance. For a clearer picture, qualitative customer feedback — responses to open-ended customer survey questions, online reviews, customer support conversations, and social media mentions — can reveal sentiment and the factors that shape great experiences or lead to churn.

To drive improvements, brands must prioritize listening to customers at the local level and ensure this feedback aligns to their brand promise.

4. Not creating a brand promise that’s meaningful worldwide

Not only do global organizations need to make sure the feedback they receive aligns to their brand promise, at a higher level, they need to build brand promises that are universally defined, culturally relevant at the local level, something that customers understand and relate to globally, and something that local teams are capable of delivering on across the world.

If that’s not possible, a brand’s promise may need to be refreshed, redefined, and transcreated for local markets.

5. Not recognizing the importance of local employees in shaping global CX

Advanced organizations empower their frontline team members to improve the customer experience by enlisting their help in creating culturally relevant training materials and gathering their ideas for solving customer problems.

6. Ignoring the impact of employee experience at the local level

Companies at risk of losing a significant share of customers to negative experiences may also be at risk of higher employee turnover. Customer churn can take a toll on staff, particularly if they don’t feel heard or valued. Organizations benefit from investing in employee listening and engagement initiatives that allow team members to share their ideas for improving CX and employee experience (EX).

7. Not getting senior leadership buy-in

In more hierarchical cultures across the globe, prioritizing the customer and employee experience requires explaining the value of improved customer and employee experiences — the potential to retain more employees and customers and save costs and drive growth as a result — to senior team members.

Understanding how leadership styles vary and how work gets done by country is a must before developing a go-to market strategy for localized CX and EX initiatives.

Tailoring Customer Experiences Across Regions Is Imperative to International Growth

Taking what’s worked in one country and applying it to the rest of the world sets global customer experience programs up for failure. Brands that gather insights into how cultural differences shape engagement and loyalty are better equipped to transcreate meaningful experiences for customers and employees and fuel growth, retention, and stronger outcomes for all aspects of the business.

Keith Kmett
Keith Kmett is Principal CX Advisor at Medallia. In his career spanning 20+ years, Keith has developed customer experience strategies for financial services, automotive, insurance, travel, healthcare, and manufacturing. A number of his experiences include managing and building customer experience and value-driven programs in the US and Latin America. Research and insights into customers, journey mapping, and CX measurement are Keith's areas of expertise. Based on his CX/UX background, he develops customer and employee solutions that lead to relevant business results.

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