Back in the New York Groove with Forrester: Part II

Culture, Connectivity and Simplicity Hold the Key to Customer Experience Success

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Attendees came in search of clarity for their CX mission

(This post is the second in a series discussing Forrester’s CXNYC 2016 event. Click here to read “Part I.”)

At CXNYC 2016, speakers from Forrester and a number of businesses focused on several core themes critical to successful customer experience strategies, three of which stood out in particular: culture, connectivity and simplicity.

The customer-centric culture

In terms of having a “customer-centric” culture, Forrester’s Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha suggested some of the strongest CX programs are “customer-obsessed,” and that for these businesses, “journey analytics provides depth of perception, and is the next frontier.”

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” said Forrester’s Sam Stern, voicing a common mantra among CX professionals.

According to Stern, “employees lead dual lives (as both representatives of the company, and consumers themselves), and you need to map both of those journeys.” As such, empathy is a natural by-product of effective CX. Employees for one business inevitably fill the shoes of the customer for other businesses, and organizations that acknowledge this reality inevitably generate greater customer satisfaction (and thus loyalty, and thus revenues).

Stern cited Nordstrom as one retailer that is well-known for its customer-centric culture, and pointed to insurance provider Nationwide as another. In an effort to put frontline employees “in the shoes” of their customers, Nationwide literally re-creates its customers’ living rooms for use as a training environment:

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Furthermore, Stern noted an alignment of elements between a positive customer experience and a positive employee experience. For customers, the effective CX program must convey:

  • Effectiveness: Customers achieve value from their experience.
  • Ease: Customers achieve this value without difficulty.
  • Emotion: Customers feel good about their experience.
     

For employees, effective employee engagement must convey:

  • Mastery: Employees gain the knowledge and skill necessary to delivering strong CX.
  • Autonomy: Employees have the freedom needed to deliver the right experience.
  • Purpose: Employees understand their role in delivering that experience.
     

Another speaker, Des Cahill of Oracle, emphasized the importance of company culture in aligning employees around key company values. When a brand builds its reputation around a specific type of culture, customer expectations will evolve accordingly, so effective CX requires frontline employees to act the part. To illustrate this point, he contrasted the distinct cultures of Apple—which prioritizes product simplicity, collaboration internally, consensus-based decision-making, a focus on consumers and a “change the world” mentality—with Oracle’s own brand, which prioritizes technological superiority, competition internally, top-down decision-making, a focus on the CIO and a mentality of “winning.”

“Culture can change quickly when there is pressure,” Cahill noted, adding that such pressure might arrive in the form of changing economic realities and disruptions to the marketplace.

The digital customer

Forrester VP Harley Manning, who founded Forrester’s Customer Experience track in 1999, discussed the correlation between providing a superior digital customer experience and increasing revenues.

“Being digital is an inherently better experience,” said Manning. “But it isn’t necessarily a ticket to free revenue growth. When it comes to digital experiences, deliver with speed, provide clarity, guide users and simplify tasks.”

Manning advised his audience to neglect any of these five fundamental components of digital experiences at their own risk:

  • Search and navigation
  • Content
  • Progress and workflow
  • Error avoidance and recovery
  • Privacy and trust
     

Manning’s colleague, Andrew Hogan, cited the Starbucks mobile app as an effective tool for delivering a strong customer experience, and thus translating to greater revenues for the chain:

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For many, “digital” has become the standard, as reflected by other speakers who commented on the value of social media as a crucial component of the CX landscape. Indeed, customers increasingly view social media as the default venue for airing concerns about today’s brands.

“The customer owns the social channel, and initiates engagement with it,” said Paul Johns, CMO at Conversocial.

“Some Millennials would sooner tweet their displeasure than speak to an actual employee,” added Evan Shumayko of OgilvyOne Worldwide.

Not phoning it in

In another session, Vicki Jones of AT&T discussed digital customer experiences, and simplifying the customer experience to enable “a premium, effortless mobile and entertainment experience.” In her particular industry, customers have come to expect an experience that is simple, seamless, personalized, fast and secure.

In transforming the customer experience to meet these expectations, Jones singled out these guiding principles for AT&T—“a litmus test for every decision we make”:

  • The experience will be simple from the start.
  • They will simplify billing and account/service changes.
  • They will deliver reliably, and recover quickly.
  • Interactions will be friendly, but efficient.
  • They will recognize and reward loyalty.
     

To achieve these ends, AT&T has employed customer analytics protocols to streamline and standardize NPS®​ survey and transactional survey methodologies across the business, as well as gain a multi-product view of the customer incorporating more than 1,000 data attributes, encompassing:

  • Demographics
  • Offers extended
  • Usage
  • Customer profile/history
  • Channels utilized for engagement
  • Surveys
     

Jones said these insights help employees perform useful CX tasks such as capturing churn impacts across multiple products, measuring sales channel effectiveness by market and product, linking survey feedback to operational metrics, and analyzing how customer preferences can guide their offer strategy.

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“We will be able to predict, and be more proactive with
customers than ever before.” ‒Vicki Jones, SVP,
AT&T Entertainment Group

To ensure a winning CX program: simplicity, simplicity, simplicity

If there was one theme I heard discussed and prioritized above all others at CXNYC 2016, it was the importance of “simplicity” when it comes to building and optimizing the customer experience. Keep things simple for your customers, and they will be more inclined to stay.

This mindset might’ve been best exemplified by Jill Fruchter of Etsy, who said “we try to get out of our customer’s way, and let the customers find what they’re looking for.”

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Arguably the most prevalent buzzword at CXNYC 2016

Check back with our blog for “Part III,” as I’ll be discussing the case study presentation NICE hosted at CXNYC 2016, “Humana ‒ Tales of Innovation in Customer Experience.”

Want to learn more about how you can generate real value from your CX program? Join us Wednesday, July 13 for our online presentation, “Knowing the Value of a Dollar: The ROI of Your Customer Experience Strategy.”

 

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