Customer Experience (CX): Three experts weigh in on what CX means for 2020
In our report, A Look Ahead: 2020 Business Process Outsourcing Trends: Can Technology Transform the Customer Experience?, we surveyed leaders to understand their top business and outsourcing objectives for 2020. By far, Customer Experience (CX) is their top priority, with 47.8% of survey respondents choosing to invest in people, processes, and technology to grow their business by delivering on CX promises.
In this article, we interviewed three experts to gain deeper insights into what CX is and how to master it.
Master the basics
Adrian Swinscoe, customer experience consultant and advisor and Author of How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing (Pearson), believes in mastering the basics. “It all starts with understanding who you are and what you are doing,” says Adrian. We all know that Amazon, Apple, Nordstrom, and Southwest deliver great CX. “What’s fascinating is that they don’t talk about the customer experience as much as everyone else, they just do it because they know why they’re doing it.”
He shared how Amazon’s customer service has evolved over the years, from mostly email support with occasional phone support. As they expanded their app usage, their self-service CX had to evolve. “They have so much data on what the customer is doing and what questions they are asking that they’ve been able to nail down what the appropriate responses should be to different customers.” They respond quickly, estimate what the outcome should be, and optimize the journey around that outcome.
Adrian believes that even if you’re not Amazon, you must start with two questions. First, how does your service and experience strategy support your business strategy? Second, does it have a positive ROI? Companies are challenged to answer both questions, but the outcome is simple. Those who deliver great CX have lower costs.
“The answer is to get really bloody great at self-service,” Adrian said. “It’s the really simple things that aren’t sexy, they’re just hard work. It takes time and focus and effort. If you’re not doing self-service, it’s a massive place to start.”
Create a clear CX vision
“What I’m seeing are two very distinct approaches to CX. One approach simply renames what companies are already doing as “Customer Experience” without making any substantial changes. It’s a marketing thing with a better buzzword and that's not customer experience,” said Jeff Toister author of The Service Culture Handbook.
“On the other hand, some leading organizations that do understand CX know that it drives so many other things. Better experience means more loyalty, better word of mouth, bigger orders, more predictable revenue streams, and lower costs.” For example, companies that sell products that require assembly need to provide clear instructions as part of the packaging and delivery experience. “You’ll actually get fewer contacts from customers needing help getting started with the product, which drives support costs down,” Jeff said. “But it’s only a smaller group of organizations that are truly trying to make the entire experience that much better.”
To deliver on CX, Jeff believes you must ask two important questions. “First, we should internally agree on what CX means. Everyone will have different interpretations of what the goal is if you don’t agree on a common goal.”
The second question builds on that common goal. “Before any organization really embarks on any kind of customer experience initiative, they should create what I call a customer experience vision,” Jeff said. “Make sure that everything you're doing from product design, marketing, to customer service, to operations, and everything in between is aligned and pointed towards that vision. And if you fail to do that, then you probably get some fairly random and inconsistent results. But if you can create that clear vision and get everybody on the same page, then you tend to get a much more focused customer experience effort.”
Deliver to customer expectations
Lynn Hunsaker Chief Customer Officer at ClearAction Continuum specializes in customer value performance, consulting with organizations to prevent CX issues. “In some industries, the end-to-end customer journey is facilitated through contact centers and related customer support entities and tools. In many industries, though, customers may never need these entities and tools as long as engineering, manufacturing, facilities, marketing, finance, etc. have ‘hit the nail on the head’ in delivering to customers' expectations.”
Lynn went on to explain what customer contact centers must do to excel. “Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) related CX must be highly efficient and effective, but customers would say their experience is superior whenever they don't have a need to use BPO-related help.”
Internal alignment around the customer is key. “Lacking characterization of intentional customer experience as a north star for how to run the entire business is the Achilles heel for CX,” Lynn said. “The non-customer-facing groups are weakest in CX frame of reference for their daily decisions, placing ever-higher burdens on customer-facing staff and tools. I call it Jenga-management, and it's the norm.”
Companies are facing new challenges as customer expectations rapidly increase. “What customers see in one industry is now rapidly expected by customers in all industries that serve them.” Lynn believes that greater use of text analytics can improve the customer journey. “Support data includes statements like "I was trying to do X, but Y happened and now my consequence is Z." This reveals outcomes that customers expect and goes beyond traditional customer survey information. “This may be the best source for determination of intentional customer experience, segmented naturally by expectation and consequence combinations.”
Learn more about CX and technology trends impacting outsourcing in 2020
Our experts provided insights into the CX imperative for 2020 and beyond and how to take a step back to ensure your strategy is on course to achieve it. Start by asking the right questions, aligning your business objectives and defining how you will support the customer journey. This could save you from making major missteps when implementing technology tools, including RPA, chatbots and AI which could be used to provide top quality CX while lowering costs in the right situations.
To learn more about how BPO and technology can drive your CX success, download our report, A Look Ahead: 2020 Business Process Outsourcing Trends: Can Technology Transform the Customer Experience?