James Bolle, Head of Client Services EMEA
Last month, Forrester held its annual CX Europe Conference. Customer experience (CX) thought leaders came together to highlight how interplay between executive leadership, customer understanding, design management, culture, and measurement all contribute to the success of high-performing firms.
I observed four key trends at the conference, all of which combine to give us a clear sense of what we can expect from CX in the coming years, and all of which are already helping to differentiate ambitious companies from the rest of the pack.
Great CX is about a brand delivering on its brand promise consistently over time, across all channels. Successful businesses have a clear brand promise: It is part of their DNA. Employees and customers know what to expect and can see a consistent thread across all channels.
Over-delivery against a brand promise can create value and an opportunity to take a brand into exciting new places. Inconsistent delivery, however, destroys value, and at a far quicker pace.
2. Employee engagement
Employee engagement is another key feature that differentiates CX leaders from the rest. A business’ employees are the face of that company and the people a brand employs speak volumes about the value they place on CX.
CX leaders truly care about the emotional well-being of their people, and create an environment where employees can see the contribution they make to customers and its importance.
Crucially, CX leaders also listen to employees in a way other companies don’t. Front-line staff have the ability to understand customer experiences in a way that many decision-makers across the company simply can’t. They are a brand’s natural interface with customers and, if harnessed in the right manner, one of the most effective tools in a CX arsenal. We call this type of listening “Voice of Employee”— the practice of purposefully soliciting feedback from colleagues about the customer experience.
A recent study with CustomerThink confirms that Voice of Employee feedback provides some of the most actionable insights in improving the customer experience. Inviting employees in as co-creators of the customer experience inspires higher levels of creativity and investment in both customer relationships and a brand’s success, driving both improved employee engagement and enhanced customer experiences.
In terms of customer insight, many brands have come on leaps and bounds. However, there is still — and probably always will be — more work to be done. Customers’ expectations are constantly evolving and one of the big emerging trends is that they want to be treated as individuals.
To meet this trend, brands are trying to develop more complex customer segmentations, sub-dividing existing segmentations to drill down deeper and deeper into the specific needs of customers. The pinnacle is perhaps those businesses that combine data and analysis to produce “segments of one.” This enables brands to understand expectations of individual customers and where appropriate, deliver a truly bespoke customer experience.
Note that for customers, it is the personalisation of the experience that is important — personalisation is not just about marketing. Also, brands don’t need loads of customer data to deliver a personalised service.
4. Combining qualitative and quantitative data
Quantitative data elicited from ratings-based surveys has been the cornerstone of understanding customers for decades. Although this data is informative, it is limited. It may provide a top-line sense of a problem, but rarely illuminates the solution.
Qualitative data, such as text analytics and free-form customer comments, often unlocks another level of insight, where CX professionals can understand the real reason why an experience was good or bad. The best businesses at the moment are successfully marrying quantitative data with qualitative data and truly enlightening the CX experience.