Today’s organizations generally acknowledge that building a fully functional, closed-loop customer experience (CX) program is good for a business: It creates happier customers who buy more and tell others about their positive experience.
But let’s face it. Developing a good CX strategy seems to be hard for many businesses. This observation has been reflected in countless articles over the years and further documented in Forrester’s CX Index™, an annual survey of U.S. customers examining the CX performance of brands across industries. In 2019, for example, the CX Index revealed that a majority of companies were stuck, failing to improve their CX scores in any meaningful way. While the 2020 CX Index showed that companies did significantly better (27% achieved a higher score year over year), CX remains a challenge for so many.
But, why? If there’s a top-down, companywide buy-in of the concept, why do organizations continue to get CX wrong? The answer comes down to whether or not you embrace three important steps. Here’s why taking these steps can put your organization on the path to CX stardom.
Understand and determine resources vs. relevance
In theory, CX is simple: It’s listening to what your customers have to say and taking action on what you hear. This concept is relevant to every business in the world. With that acknowledgment of relevance, the natural next step is to consider the resources needed to make it work well. Unfortunately, for many companies, this means absentmindedly tacking on “CX Coordinator” to someone’s title.
This lack of attention to CX is understandable: Organizations get mired down in so many other important things, such as determining company strategy and pricing products — that they don’t contemplate what customers think about it all and what the company will do about their reactions to it. That’s where CX resources can step in. “CX resources” could be a “tiger team,” complete with a leader, process people, data analysts and program management; or it could be a single, dedicated person. Regardless, CX resources must be cross-functional, facilitating and partnering with every department in the company to help drive meaningful change that delights customers and inspires their loyalty.
Gain insight into CX data
The second step critical to realizing a successful CX strategy involves data, and the ability to leverage it to tell a story so CX can be improved. In the spirit of acknowledging problems, let’s concede to the fact that most companies have an inherent shortfall in their ability to take large chunks of data — in this case, data related to customer sentiment — and turn them into something actionable.
But when you master this, data accumulated over time yields patterns that can be stitched together to tell a story — a story that, thanks to the numbers to back it up, has credibility and can be confidently presented to the rest of your company to effect change. Remember that it’s not just about understanding where problems exist in CX; it’s also about calculating the size of that problem and how it’s impacting the business. Data helps immensely in this regard.
Insights gained from data also provide opportunities to engage with — and therefore develop stronger relationships with — individual customers. For example, an auto dealer armed with customer feedback about a negative exchange in its service department can prompt an interview with the disaffected customer, ultimately illustrating genuine concern and assurances that the issue will be fixed. Such a focus on CX not only brings the problem to the attention of management so that it can be remedied, but it also reassures the customer that they matter, and the resulting positive sentiment will likely be conveyed organically to other customers.
Taking action (and therefore closing the CX loop)
Everybody in a company has the ability to positively or negatively impact the customer — whether that’s the people working in the billing department or the support center. The point here is that taking action to create better CX is everybody’s job, not just those on the CX team. CX must be part of the fabric of a company. Starting with company leaders and trickling down through every layer, the company as a whole must believe and understand that the only thing that matters as it relates to running a CX program is your ability to listen to what your customers have to say and actually take action on what they hear. Anything less is insulting to your customer. So, from determining dedicated resources to analyzing customer data to putting it all into action across the company, the CX loop can finally be closed.
As the marathon-running centenarian Fauja Singh said, “Anything worth doing is going to be difficult,” and CX clearly has a reputation for both of those — worth doing and difficult.
But in theory, CX really shouldn’t be a challenge. After all, it’s just a matter of listening to what your customers have to say and using their words and sentiment as the impetus to improve your own business. Addressing in your business the three elements discussed here, you can get CX right. So rather than treating it as a sidebar to everything else, treat it as a cornerstone for your business — part of its DNA — and reap all the rewards that come along with it.