A guide to Customer Experience - CX
In this guide:
- What is Customer Experience?
- Why do we Need to Care about Customer Excellence?
- Perception is the Only Reality in CX
- Robots or Technology-Empowered your Brand Experience?
- CX Case Studies
One of the greatest challenges when embarking on any Customer Experience (CX) project is that the area is so multi-faceted, that few people share a common definition. This guide will help to define and demystify some of the terminology and introduce some world-class examples from leading edge organisations.
Customer experience is an amalgamation of interactions between an organisation and their customer over the duration of their relationship. It is now becoming the key differentiator and driver of growth in customer-facing industries.
"Not only is customer service a deeper field than those outside it may initially presume, it’s evolving at an unprecedented pace” - Help scout
The bewildering introduction and fast-evolving landscape of technologies and their vastly intelligent capabilities are stimulating changes in customer behaviour and exponentially increasing expectations and demands of service and experience. What was once a one-dimensional, in-store interaction with the sales person is now a complex web of alternate communication channels from social media, telephone, email to live chat, with the added feature of automation and artificial intelligence. This growing number of communication channels delivers immeasurable amounts of data. This means that, by the time the human employees sift through it all, the moment to influence a customer outcome has been missed. In fact, lag time in curating data driven intelligence may even mean that, in the interim, customer behaviour and expectations have moved on. To stay relevant, businesses’ are finding they need to enjoin the technological ‘arms race’ and implement up-to-date software, in order to really understand their customers’ needs and wants.
Source: Experience Matters blog
- 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. (American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer)
- More than half 16of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service. (American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer)
- U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.
- After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again.
- 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.
- When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find the buying experience more important than price.
- After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend.
Customer experience, at its core, is the art of perception and interaction; thus meaning that however, a customer perceives you, is what you are. This perception can evolve quickly or slowly through each and/or all interactions with your company or brand. Forbes says:
“Managing customer perception is one of the most important things brands should be doing. Everything a company does contributes to how customers perceive it, and therefore to the overall customer experience, including the messaging you use, the products you sell, the sales process, and what happens after the sale, plus other internal factors like the interworking of the company, its leadership, and the engineering of the product or service.” - Forbes
Forbes also believes that hiring passionate people and training them to love the product will reflect in the customers experience and can contribute to the overall perception. Everything needs attention and care applied, from the ease of navigating the website, cleanliness of the store, quality of product and acute focus on the customers’ journey at all touch points. “Customer perception is fragile and can change with each interaction, so constantly maintaining a strong customer experience is of utmost importance.”
Paul Boag author of Boag World believes that if you “ask 10 CX professionals what customer experience means, you will get ten different answers” but again, at its core, he believes that client experience boils down to perception; it goes as broad to “encompass what the customer has heard or read about an organisation, as this influences their perception of the experience.”
Ameyo’s Gartner defines CX as, “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” Forrester Research defies perception as being a “result of single or multiple interactions with a brand while seeking any information or support at different phases of the customer life cycle.” Interaction with a brand refers to “the various touch points like talking to customer support agent on call, self-service options or live chat, etc. across the buyer’s journey.” Forrester continues to explain that “in the modern digital era, customers are well-informed and [more] connected than ever” which they predict, due to the growing number of communication channels, "brands are increasingly turning to technology platforms as a way to improve customer experience across channels.”
We examine how top technology providers and some leading organisations see the interplay between People and Technology:
Qualtrics is an experience management company that prides themselves on their ‘holistic’ approach to CX, which represents in their tag line: ‘Software to help turn customers in fanatics, products into obsessions, employees into ambassadors and brands into religions.’ Qualtrics offer a sophisticated platform, used by teams, departments and sometimes whole organisations where all their information and data is put into one place to drive insights, analyse data and capture customer the true identity of their customer, their feelings and attitudes towards your business.
“Qualtrics is a technology platform that helps organisations collect, manage and act on all of their experience data… It used to be that only a few collection of people were able to gain access and manage that data, but now with Qualtrics, the entire organisation has access and can collect, manage, organise and improve experiences wherever they are in their organisation. Qualtrics is a system of action and its purpose is to drive improvement across the entire experience landscape.” - Ryan Smith, CEO & Co Founder, Qualtric
MaritzCX is a platform provider of software and research to help you to “respond to the Voice of the Customer instantly." Known for offering 'strategy and design consulting, mystery shopping, data analysis models, comprehensive program management, data collection and validation services.’
At MaritzCX, they believe that organisations should be able to “see, sense and act on the experiences and desires of every customer, at every touch point, as it happens.” Focussing on helping companies increase their “customer retention, conversion, and lifetime value by embedding customer experience intelligence and action systems into the DNA of a business operation.” MaritzCX promise to offer a customer experience programme that drives high value and high return. By focussing on customer retention and lifetime value, businesses’ can ingrain customer experience-driven insight and action into the DNA of business operations.
Branding themselves as the ‘leader for omnichannel customer experience & contact centre solutions,’ Genesys believe in exceeding customer expectations by using cloud and on-premises customer experience solutions. Connecting with customers, managing tasks and discovering trends are all found in one place, in their platform. Claiming that they can offer, ‘real-time insights to help make quick decisions and keep a focus on customer happiness.’ With a focus on ‘turning customers experience into a strategic differentiator’ the platform is split into three main categories; PureConnect, PureCloud and PureEngage. PureConnect allows for the customer to engage with your business in whichever medium they prefer, this allows for a flexible and reliable contact centre platform. Declaring that as the ‘only true, all-in-one omnichannel contact centre’. PureCloud is the operating system boasting an easy to use interface that allows for seamless integration with existing systems. Providing a ‘flexible environment that instantly scales to meet peak demands’ with an interactive dashboard resulting in ‘consolidated view of customers, call centre agents and interactions across all channels and locations.’ Finally, the PureEngage ‘call centre software combines real-time contextual journeys, world-class intelligent routing and digital transformation’ to make sure you’re continuously exceeding customer expectations for a personalised and seamless interaction from every channel from voice, video, email, chat etc. PureEngage focusses on engagement throughout the whole customer journey. To learn more about Genesys and their platform, artificially intelligence, new strategies and platform support, register to their event in Denver, CO on June 10-13, 2019 here.
Freshworks is another ‘refreshingly simple customer engagement software’ that solves the issues you face with your current business software. Stating that “Business software is clunky, expensive, hard to setup and frustrating to use.” To combat this, they’ve created software that is easy to use, ready to go and affordable to drive engagement and performance. They believe that ‘technology should work the way people work’ that ‘powers productivity and efficiency, and allows your people to WOW your customers.’ With nine products to choose from and two tools to add, you can get the right platform for exactly what you need, whether that’s a sales CRM, customer support software, an engagement suit, applicant software system and more, you will find a product to fit your exact needs.
As the industries’ only self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing database, Oracle technologies believe they are ‘disrupting old paradigms and unleashing new opportunities’ with their software by embedding ‘innovative technologies in every aspect of [their] cloud, enabling companies to reimagine their businesses, processes, and experiences.’
‘Complete, Open, Secure, Choice, Intelligent and Autonomous’ are Oracle's 6 promises when using their software.
Check out Oracle's latest article - 2025 CX Cloud Predictions- where they're promising to deliver ‘legendary experiences’ for your customers by connecting data, intelligence and experience. Strong believers in making sure every customers’ journey is personalised, unique, seamless and connected by leveraging ‘best-of-the-breed CX solutions’ through ‘data, behavioural intelligence, and experiences across all lines of business.’
How have others utilised and benefitted from exercising the key aspects of CX?
"Organisations [are] empowered by intelligent customer service [it increases] advocacy and loyalty to their brand by creating effortless service experiences. Effortless experiences support the time, place and need of each customer [which leaves] both customers and agents thinking not so much about the service process, but about how easy it was.” CXNetwork
Rooms To Go case study: Creating digital experiences to enhance the in-store experience
Rooms To Go is a major US independent furniture retailer that has nearly 7,000 members of staff across 11 US states, turning over $1.5 billion sales annually. The challenge, and objective was to find a way for Rooms To Go to emulate their easy to use, effective and emotionally rewarding customer journey, digitally. The goal was to inextricably interweave the offline and online customer journey and apply context between the customer actions and events; they did this by understanding the entire journey of the customer. They also placed focus on having a team that can connect, and make sense of all the engagements and interactions from multiple sites, devices and channels. In order to do this, a flexible data model was imperative as it needed to evolve to stay in line with customer behaviour and the team’s learning.
Placing value on customer context is essential; it allows the team to understand user behaviour and removes “the fragility of making decisions based on assumptions.” By gaining insight into this, Rooms To Go soon became immersed in their customers’ relationship with them.
“Tackling a challenge of this scale takes more than just technology: it takes the right people, process, stakeholder support and mix of technologies.” With this in mind, Rooms To Go invested in software from UserReplay. UserReplay’s "CX Analytics discovers the pipeline of hidden revenue opportunities by revealing the online struggles that stop customers converting… and reveals its impact on revenue, helping teams prioritise improvements based on value to the business.” By being able to connect behaviours with events, it helps the customer service team interact and react appropriately to pain points, and the IT team prioritise resolution based on monetary impact.
UserReplay’s tool suite (Tealium, Powerfront & Mulesoft API) ensures that there is a flow of relevant data between systems.” By keeping in line with their customer-centric approach and integrating technologies, Rooms To Go then had an all-important single view of the customer by monitoring behavioural patterns such as adding to cart or checking out so they can implement more subtle ways to affect conversion. For example, “[we noticed by using UserReplay that we were] not making it [as easy for people as we should have been], which resulted in many [customers] removing items [from their basket].” “We [could] actually watch, validate and act on the customer interaction and behaviour, in real-time.” Mike Austin
Read the full Rooms To Go case study here
The influx and introduction of technological advances have propelled the travel industry into a multi-faceted business, that now offers the users tremendous amounts of choice and specialisation for their search for the perfect away-from-home experience. The birth of online travel agent platforms has somewhat caused the travel agent to become redundant - except there is a market for the human touch. In today’s world, with everything becoming increasingly technological and data driven, the human element is becoming increasingly important to place companies ahead of their competitors.
Thomas Cook case study: the 24-hour promise
“You can make an experience more positive by communicating at the right time.” Sarah Holian - Head of Operations & Customer Services at Stratajet. This quote very much applies to Thomas Cook’s new 24-Hour Promise policy; in the summer of 2016, Thomas Cook discovered a pain point during their customers’ experience journey; they recognised that if a customer is not completely happy when they arrive at their destination, they will still complain even when holiday is already over. This is the ever-present challenge of “too little, too late” remedial actions meaning there is no possibility to find a solution to make their customer’s holiday and experience better.
In reaction to this, Thomas Cook changed their approach. The new initiative involved the introduction of messages; within the first hours of a customer arriving at their hotel, they would get a message to ask if everything is as expected and whether there is something Thomas Cook can do to help. If a customer does have an issue they are asked whether they’d like to be contacted and Thomas Cook will solve the problem in 24 hours. If there is no solution to be found at that time, the customer will receive a voucher of 25% of the cost of their current holiday to spend on their next holiday or the opportunity to fly home on the next available flight.
So far, only a few vouchers have been handed out, but this new promise has meant that Thomas Cook are more pro-active, offer the customer the opportunity to vent through their feedback and get a response immediately. Following the promise introduction, Thomas Cook’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) has risen after the implementation of the promise.
Annette Höher-Bäuerle, Group Customer Experience Director at Thomas Cook Group, explained: “As the initiative went on, we were able to see a significant improvement of tour operator NPS scores at many of our participating hotels. Both internally and externally, our tour operator NPS scores showed the fruits of our risk.”
Qualtrics Case Studies: How focussing on the human has changed their customers results
Ryan Smith (CEO of Qualtrics) exclaimed that there are two types of data; 1. Operational, and 2. Experience. The former involves such things as sales numbers, finance data and HR systems and the latter fundamentally focusses on the ‘human factor data’; this is the belief, the emotion and the sentiment - how people feel. Experience data, he believes, tells you why and what to do. Qualtrics use their platform as a company wide XM system, like CRM or ERP, but managing four core experiences of business: CustomerXM, ProductXM, EmployeeXM and BrandXM.
Vodafone New Zealand & Qualtrics
Vodafone’s goal was to turn their customers into fanatics who stay longer, spend more and tell their friends. “Experience is the new value of today” says Jin Wan, Enterprise NPS Lead Vodafone NZ. When they started three years ago, their NPS score was in the negative 20s, but since the adoption of Qualtrics, their score soared to the positive 60s.
Whilst Andrew Fairgray, Head of Corporate Vodafone NZ, knew that “getting feedback was always important” he realised that there weren’t any “hard facts or disciplines around drive and outcome.” By using Qualtrics, Vodafone were able to feed all the real-time data and verbiage into the system from the customers and deliver that information directly to the account managers and sales professionals. This “granular level of detail to understand what it is that really delights the customer across multiple touch points,” Ken Tunnicliffe, Enterprise Director Vodafone NZ.
They soon discovered that customers want to be contacted proactively, so they increased their number of account managers, introduced monthly review sessions on their service provided, and focussed on the whole journey, rather than fixing issues right at that particular touch point. With this new found priority on customer experience, their objective is to not only be the best service providers in telecommunications, but to make sure they are “recognised as having the best service experience, regardless of any industry,” Andrew Fairgray.
BMW Japan & Qualtrics
As the world’s leading manufacturer of premium automobiles and motorcycles, and provider of premium financial and mobility services, BMW Japan knew that understanding and responding to in-the-moment feedback from customers at scale would be the key to unlocking growth in their market. However, the monthly insights they received from customers were more internal key performance indicators (KPI) analytic driven that was not being distributed to employees in time to change customer attitudes and behaviour, so they needed a platform that could help react to insights in real-time.
In order to drive action from insights, they had to neglect their current system for collecting data at their 84 dealerships because, although their 30 question survey and strong internal focus on monthly KPI provided an aggregated view of systemic problems for future resolution, but did little to resolve an individual customer’s problems. With the introduction of Qualtrics, their 30 question survey reduced to 3 simple questions and less of a focus on aggregate score and more on individual customer experiences. Employees now actively listen to the voice of the customer (VoC) in real-time and, as a result, thoroughly understand the root causes. Each dealership now regularly implements targeted action plans to pro-actively improve future experiences for every customer.
Their philosophy follows the simple requirements; the moment customer feedback comes in, it needs to be actioned. Employee enthusiasm about closing the loop on customer raised issues has increased and 90% of customer feedback is now responded to, in less than two days. Because Qualtrics enables a personalised experience for every user in the organisation, it means that time is economised and workflow is managed as each dealer doesn’t have to dig through an organisations’ worth of data to quickly discover the root cause.
“Qualtrics has delivered what we needed from a customer experience platform provider: The technology to measure and turn insights into action for improvements, hands-on support from a local team in Japan, and the ability to easily adapt programs for the Japanese market.” Takeshi Ohwada, Manger, Customer Relations Sales Channel Development.
"Even though individual changes can sometimes be small, the cumulative results most certainly aren’t. Being able to measure and manage an entire customer experience not only improves your customer’s experience but also your brand and the customer’s perception of your business." - Qualtrics
MaritzCX Case Studies: Enabling organisations to see, sense and act immediately at every customer’s touch point
MaritzCX aims to help businesses see important issues and trends earlier, so they can respond faster, and “turn every customer experience into a clear competitive advantage." Claiming to be the only customer experience company that combines one of the “world’s most advanced CX software platforms with industry-leading research services and world-class CX expertise.”
They combine data from surveys and various data collection points, text analytics, predictive analytics and provide dashboards and reporting, action and case management and social CX. They take data from a number of different sources, touch points and general noise and develop them into valuable, actionable information you can share with everyone who needs it.
MaritzCX & Transamerica: Adopting a Unified Customer Experience Ethic
Recognised as leading providers of life insurance, savings, retirement and investment solutions, Transamerica serves millions of customers throughout the U.S. With over 10,000 employees, Transamerica were finding it challenging to promote a customer-centric approach and company culture. Their quest was to identify a technology that would offer a solution to achieve this goal and gain a better understanding of their customers.
“Though pockets of Transamerica were paying lots of attention to the end customer, we did not have consistent methods of understanding the customer experience and measuring customer engagement and loyalty,” said Rich King, ex-director, customer experience, Transamerica Investments & Retirement (I&R) Division.
The first port-of-call was to fine-tune, deliver and analyse relationship surveys that would expose key loyalty metrics (NPS) and drivers of engagement. After 90 days, the team delivered relationship surveys to 170,000 customers and 15,000 advisors, receiving a 12.8% response rate. Once the responses were fed into the MaritzCX system, the data was analysed and delivered in a way that presented a holistic, unified view of the clients' experience emerged.
“The survey results revealed that more than 75% of respondents perceived Transamerica as an industry leader. Additional diagnostic reporting found commonalities in demographics and product purchases among these segments.” MartizCX
More interestingly, analysis provided insight into brands customers favoured over Transamerica where customers had relationships with competitors and provided competitive insights which ultimately uncovered blind spots in channel interactions and products.
Furthermore, Transamerica collected information concerning assets at risk, it provided an early detection system for significant withdrawal of assets; 11% of customers surveyed fell into an ‘at risk’ category. By using MaritzCX system, Transamerica quickly and easily identified that the main reasons segments of customer might move away was due to a serious lack of communication. Action from this insight created strategies to conduct a more proactive and personalised approach, increasing engagement.
“Meaningful client interactions are fundamental to loyalty, and long-standing customers often don’t have a need to contact Transamerica,” said King. “So, we are now looking at ways to increase meaningful contact with all our customers, especially the ones who have been with us the longest.”
“Armed with such powerful data and analytics, Transamerica is well on its way to becoming the customer organisation it aspires to be. This consistent measurement approach enables insight-based decisions across every aspect of the Transamerica experience.”
Read the full Transamerica case study here
Stay tuned for the second part of this guide.