That Customer Experience Sweet Spot

That Customer Experience Sweet Spot

For CXSF 2016 Attendees, CX Innovation Is Where the Money Is

(This post is the second in a series discussing Forrester’s CXSF 2016 event. Click here to read the first, “I Found My Customer’s Heart in San Francisco.”)

When it comes to brands positioning themselves for long-term success, Kelly Manthey of Solstice recommended they “seek a surfboard,” which will empower them to “accept things won’t stop moving, and ride the next wave of digital innovation.”

“People will pay more for innovation,” she added, citing findings that consumers who value innovation are willing to pay about 20% extra to deal with an innovative brand.

According to Manthey, brands succeed when they take this three-pronged approach to developing customer experience strategy:

  • Lean product strategy ‒ Conduct rapid experimentation, focus on MVPs, and adopt a “test and learn” mindset. (She cited Domino’s as a brand that excelled via rapid experimentation with emerging technologies and customer engagement strategies.)
  • Human-centered design ‒ Empathize with the customer, deepen the emotional connections, and meet your customers where they are. (“Become your customer. They’re not just building a product for a customer, but they’re building a product we use. We have purpose.”)
  • Agile engineering ‒ Ensure a nimble process, respond to change rapidly, and encourage cross-functional collaboration. 

The ROI of strong CX. Any questions?

Designing for the customer

Several of the speakers emphasized the value of a customer-centric design for customer experience, including Cindy Chastain, group head of customer experience and design at MasterCard. According to Chastain, the traditional methodology of “repair, elevate, optimize, and differentiate” is outdated and far too simplistic for today’s CX program; rather, CX professionals must account for these considerations:

  • A service-level CX strategy defines the vision and roadmap for delivering a relevant, useful, and emotionally resonating customer experience that will drive business results.
  • Leveraging design and design-thinking in a strategy and planning phase brings creativity, innovation, prototyping, and customer validation earlier in the process.
  • A flexible, bottom-up framework for driving customer-centricity can be the key to galvanizing momentum within a complex organization.

In one of the show’s more lively presentations, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Rik Reppe and Juan Carlos Morales—the former an energized Penn to the latter’s mellower (though still vocal) Teller—spoke of whittling down CX strategy to what they call the “B-X-T” principle:

  • Business ‒ It is viable to the business and achieves the desired financial impact.
  • Experience ‒ It is desirable to humans and will be adopted without a lot of change management.
  • Technology ‒ It is feasible today with the use of emerging and existing technologies. 

“Make the client and the user one of us, not one of them.”

Don’t forget your personnel, either

Echoing a critical point presented at CXNYC, Forrester’s Sam Stern emphasized the importance of accounting for the employee experience as a driver of positive customer experience. While strong CX ensures customers obtain value from their interactions without difficulty, and feel good about it afterwards, strong employee experience ensures personnel has the knowledge and skills they require to deliver those interactions, with autonomy and a sense of purpose.

Another Forrester analyst, T.J. Keitt, suggested employees are actors who can relate to their counterparts within customer organizations (for B2B), and that “customer experience” really boils down to a series of interactions with different stakeholders over time.

Know your customers, and their journeys

As to these “different stakeholders,” Keitt noted that there are many customers within a B2B account, and if you don’t know who each of them are, you cannot know how to organize them as a complete account. He spoke of the importance of using all available tools to achieve an end-to-end view of the customer, and of capturing all influencer perspectives, correlating CX success with business success, and providing guidance and validation for CX improvements.

Clients want to see results, both short-term and long-term.

Helen Crossley, head of audience insights research for Facebook, presented on the value of actionable audience insights, specifically taking stock of the multi-channel customer journey. According to Crossley, cross-channel conversions are still increasing, across all journeys, with 50-60% of desktop conversions starting on mobile devices. Three examples:

  • U.S. travel consumers take 43 days, on average, to complete their purchase journey.
  • 76% of car shoppers who start their journeys via mobile devices have already made their decision by the time they visit a dealership.
  • 63% of beauty product consumers use their mobile devices as a resource for product information while shopping in-store.

Furthermore, Crossley notes that cookies have been rendered largely ineffective by their overuse.

Another presenter, IBM’s Larry Yusuf, took things a step further, linking customer journey analytics to their value in identifying patterns, citing root causes, and empowering brands to predict (and affect) customer actions. Among other things, he discussed the concept of “struggle analytics”—a term I liked very much, as it suggests urgency, and underscores the importance of CX more broadly.

CX professionals are pursuing answers to these questions every day,
and we’re all doing our part to help them get there.

Forrester’s Tony Costa spoke to the value of not only listening to the voice of the customer, but using it to guide strategic decisions. By challenging assumptions and adapting to cultural shifts in the marketplace, LEGO was able to orchestrate a thorough CX turnaround over the past ten years, and become the world’s biggest toy company.

LEGO won by listening to the voice of the customer
—in this case, children.

A balancing act

While CX strategy clearly seeks to present pleasant, rewarding interactions for the marketplace, most any brand executive would tell you the ultimate motivation behind voice of the customer, customer journey analytics, design, and the like comes down to one clear item: return on investment. Businesses want to see their CX paying off, delivering customer loyalty and attracting new customers, serving goals of increased revenues and market share.

Julio Hernandez, head of KPMG’s Global Customer Advisory practice, spoke of CX as “the new competitive battlefield,” and how businesses can most effectively leverage their CX efforts to achieve optimal financial value—that customer experience sweet spot.

“It’s important to understand what customers want and value, but you also need to understand the value of the customer,” said Hernandez. “Segment your customer base around the customer experience. Identify their journeys, understand the value of each segment, and research the importance of each interaction.”

According to Hernandez, it is critical to understand how different interactions vary in importance to customers. Some are must-haves, while others are selectors (those which drive customers to choose one brand over another), and still others are delighters (whereby customers are surprised by an exceptionally high level of service). As you’ve heard before, no company can be “always incredible,” so one must focus efforts wisely.

Here are the parts, according to Hernandez. A CX champion
becomes more than the sum of its parts.

Hernandez proceeded to profile a global telecommunications provider that “made the right bets” to optimize its customer experience ROI.

The Internet of Things (that may require a bit more work)

Finally, one topic that received considerable exploration was the Internet of Things, which remains a source of potential disruption and opportunity for the customer experience. In his presentation, Forrester VP Frank Gillett cited how the IoT was being used to optimize the fan experience at Major League Baseball stadiums, shift the auto industry “from selling motorized sculpture to providing mobility services,” and give consumers an “intelligent” oven that will prepare food in precisely the manner they request (by voice command).

“We always relied on the customer to tell us what’s wrong with the product,” said Gillett. “The IoT has the power to flip that.”

Another Forrester VP, Jeffrey Hammond, discussed how the Milwaukee County Transit System was using IoT to optimize its bus schedules and notifications, while WLS Lighting Systems was using it as a means for optimizing the efficiency of parking lot lighting. (If nobody is there, why waste the power?)

Hammond’s recommendations for brands intent on
pursuing an IoT strategy.

Hammond cited a litany of problems currently associated with IoT, but believes it’s “absolutely the smart thing to pursue.” Perfectly underscoring IoT’s growing pains and the considerable challenges of overcoming them, just as Hammond was giving his presentation, a global DDoS attack traced to compromised IoT devices was preventing me from tweeting about the conference, and causing a great many headaches across the country.

Technical difficulties aside, I had a great time at CXSF 2016, and can’t wait to catch up with Forrester again, further on up the road.

Join Forrester and NICE on Thursday, November 17, for “The Dawn of Anticipatory CX.” In this webinar, you’ll learn how to manage customer expectations as early as possible and sustain positive emotional momentum throughout the customer’s journey.