CX in the new era: Drive growth with a better customer—and employee—experience
Customer experience industry leaders share three imperatives for the modern customer experience professional.
Across industries, the events of the past two years have transformed what customers expect from the brands they purchase from. We are living in a new era for customer experience (CX). Changing consumer buying behavior, nontraditional ways of working, updated business models, and disrupted supply chains have caused CX professionals to rethink and redesign the experiences they create for their customers.
The 2022 State of CX Report1 by GetFeedback, the agile customer experience management solution by Momentive, explores how the CX industry has evolved through the changes. Feedback from 2,200 industry professionals worldwide offers insights about the role of the CX professional and customer experience priorities.
In this blog, we’ve pulled together perspectives on the report insights from CX experts Annette Franz, CCXP, CEO and founder of CX Journey, Inc.; Jeannie Walters, CEO and founder of Experience Investigators™; and Dan Gingiss, CEO and founder of The Experience Maker LLC. Fueled by the report’s insights, the experts also offer pro tips for taking action to deliver excellent customer experience in this new landscape. Here are the top three imperatives that have emerged from their analysis.
1. Love your CX pros by bringing them together for cross-collaboration
In her article for GetFeedback, Annette Franz analyzes the state of the customer experience profession, including compensation, reporting, team structures, and more. Franz provides additional insights to help CX professionals thrive in 2022.
While the report’s findings that CX professionals report to or reside in various departments wasn’t new info for Franz, the fact that most respondents (20%) sit in IT organizations was surprising. And while that might make sense, observes Franz, because IT oversees the systems and data employees use to support customers, this team’s priority is most likely to be the support experience.
As Franz points out in her article: “CX professionals need to look at, understand, and design the [customer] experience holistically, end to end; not just within the confines of the department within which they reside.” CX leaders must be clear about the need for a complete and integrated view of the customer experience.
Team work makes the dream work
With skills required by a CX team often not fully residing on that team, cross-functional collaboration is critical to CX success. Franz notes “... it’s critical to understand that this work cannot be successful without all hands on deck. The entire organization, not just your executives, must be committed to and involved in the work that lies ahead.”
Franz suggests that teams must build key foundational elements, including a governance structure. “This structure stands in the form of committees, which must be cross-functional in order to avoid siloed efforts overtaking the CX transformation work.” Franz recommends that shared responsibilities be outlined and agreed upon by their team leaders.
Cross-collaboration drives more revenue
CX professionals or teams that significantly collaborate cross-functionally are 27% more likely to have a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ rate of return on investment (ROI) on their programs and three times more likely to drive high positive business impact1.
Franz observes that organizations “... know that seamless and consistent experiences are among customers’ greatest expectations. When you break down or connect silos, work together, share information and insights, and collaborate on experience design, you will reduce effort for your customers, making it easier to show the ROI of the work.” She adds that “by definition, a customer-centric culture is a collaborative one.”
2. Prioritize personalization to create amazing customer experience
Asking for customer feedback, deriving meaningful insights, and then taking action is a lot of work. The good news? According to The 2022 State of CX Report, customer experience leaders are developing their listening skills. But it’s proving more difficult to act on these insights.
In her commentary, Jeannie Walters points out that creating meaningful, personalized experiences is part of the challenge: “Personalized experiences mean recognizing who the customer is and where they are on their journey. As the customer moves from shopping to buying to asking for help, they want to feel seen and heard along the way.”
Walters believes now is the time to focus on a thoughtful, comprehensive customer feedback strategy. “Look for ways to collect feedback along the customer’s journey. Start by creating customer journey maps; understand the current state of various touchpoints and how best to include feedback collection along that journey. Consider carefully what parts of the journey you can customize.”
Centralize customer data
With 52% of customers saying it feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information, it’s clear most customers feel as if they are interacting with different entities rather than a unified brand. When a comprehensive, centralized view of the customer is absent, the customer experience is fragmented. For this reason, Walters highlights the importance of centralizing customer data to provide tailored experiences.
“There is no way to personalize a ‘fragmented’ customer experience,” according to Walters. “Without visibility to the correct data at the right moment, it’s impossible to recognize the customer in a way that respects their overall journey with the brand.”
Use all of your data to enrich customer experiences
Once you’ve identified the touchpoints to collect customer data, and have a way of seeing it holistically, you’re empowered to build new and ever-more-engaging experiences. Walters cites several in her article, including communities, self-service knowledge bases, personalized filters, and app-based engagements like the Optune subscription experience from cosmetic company Shiseido.
Using Optune, “Customers can take a selfie which is analyzed for skincare factors within an app. The app then ‘talks’ to a specialized device, which is sent to the customer with five customized skincare product ‘cartridges’ uniquely customized for that individual.” Walters underscores her point: “Instead of just buying a bottle of moisturizer, this customer is signing up for a long-term relationship.”
Read Walters’ article and check out her guidelines for providing more personalized experiences along the customer journey.
3. Make your employees happy and your customers will follow
In his article on The 2022 State of CX Report, Dan Gingiss focused on brand loyalty among customers and employees. According to Gingiss: “One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that there’s been a brighter spotlight on customer and employee experience. Both customers and employees know which brand companies have been supportive during these tough times and which have not. Brand loyalty has been built–and destroyed–at a record pace.”
Employee and customer happiness are intertwined
Gingiss suggests that organizations “think of the relationship between employee experience and customer experience as an infinity symbol (∞). When employees are happy, they better serve customers, thereby making those customers happy.” Since “employee motivation” and “skills training” are the two biggest hurdles to CX program success1, Gingiss emphasizes that companies can’t expect employees to provide a great experience for customers if they don’t know what makes a great experience.
Gingiss highlights data from a recent Momentive study2 indicating that “a quarter of employees say they’re likely to leave their current jobs in the next six months,” primarily due (46%) to “work stress.” He suggests that companies “must stand behind their employees and ensure they feel healthy, safe, heard and empowered.” Collaborating with HR is also key to “ensuring both employee and customer experience success,” he observed, directing readers to additional resources for successful CX-HR team collaboration.
Loyalty is where the wallet is
The GetFeedback report found that the top priority for CX professionals is to strengthen customer loyalty. Gingiss made the point that top-of-mind priorities—collecting and analyzing customer feedback, taking strategic action on CX data, and cultivating a customer-centric culture—are all means to the same end: increased customer loyalty.
Gingiss notes that “true customer loyalty is when customers want to do business with the company again and again without a financial incentive … They aren’t even considering other brands—because they feel like they’re right where they belong.”
To build customer loyalty, Gingiss suggests focusing on three critical steps:
- Collect real-time customer feedback across channels
- Analyze customer feedback quickly
- Take action on customer feedback in real time
“Customers know what they want, and as long as you’re not afraid to ask, they will definitely tell you,” Gingiss observes. “Companies that are willing to listen and adapt as necessary will gain customers’ trust and therefore their loyalty. And the ones that look beyond the individual transaction to the lifetime value of a customer will quickly learn that a loyal customer is well worth the investment.”
1This GetFeedback study was conducted online in B2B and B2C organizations across five countries: the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Austria (n=2,267), from October 14-28, 2021. Survey respondents were VoC/ CX professionals, who were actively involved in running or contributing to VoC/ CX programs at their organizations.
2This Momentive study was conducted between June 2-8, 2021 among a national sample of 6,678 adults in the U.S.