By the end of 2020, the key differentiator for a brand will be its customer experience rather the product or the price of the product, says the follow-up report, Customers 2020: A Progress Report, by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm.
Customer experience or CX refers to the perception of the customers towards a brand. Improving CX is vital for the survival of the brand as it improves customer satisfaction, generates customer loyalty, and also helps achieve the long-term business goals. Various interactions with a brand that a customer has throughout the customer lifecycle determine an experience. As each customer is unique, so is the experience. Thus, a standardized approach to deliver CX does not work well and needs to be customized according to customer preferences.
In the wake of the pandemic, shopping preferences have changed drastically and customers are looking for more and more personalized experience. The new normal has disrupted not only individual lives but also businesses. With downsizing and customer acquisition on hold, retaining existing customers to survive these turbulent times is what businesses are focusing on. The need to maintain positive relationships with customers, showing empathy and care as a business, has never been this crucial.
However, research shows that businesses are still struggling to offer superior customer experience and CX management still gets top priority in the marketing strategy of growing number of businesses.
So what is wrong?
CX challenges and solutions to address these challenges
A Gartner report says that more than 70% of CX leaders find it difficult to create projects with a view to enhance customer loyalty and achieve better business results. Let’s take a look at what is wrong when it comes to delivering superior CX and how to fix it in the present complex environment.
Challenge #1: Personalization issues or the missing emotional connect
Most businesses still take a standard or one-size-fits-all approach to CX and fail to personalize or deliver that empathetic touch while interacting with customers. Customer expectations have undergone a 360-degree change and customers now expect a customized experience each time they interact with a brand. They are wary of receiving generic marketing messages. A recent Pulse Check report by Accenture, states that nearly 91% of customers are more likely to go for brands that remember, recognize, and offer relevant recommendations. However, businesses are unsuccessful in offering personalized experience as they are unable to correctly analyze customers’ journey.
Solution #1: CX is not only about strategies and having processes in place; it is also about making an emotional connect with the customers. Engaging with customers through the right channel at the right time and in the right way is essential to deliver a personalized experience. Leveraging customer journey analytics to efficiently anticipate customers’ needs and personalize the interaction for proactive communication can go a long way to resolve this challenge. However, it is important to understand – what, when, and how to personalize. Once this has been figured out, it becomes easier to engage with customers in real time through the latest marketing tools and technologies.
Challenge #2: Breaking down data silos
There still exist data silos that are difficult to penetrate due to rigid and incompatible systems in place. Teams across the business organization need to leverage this data to gather actionable insights and shape the customer experiences in meaningful ways. But, only around 34% of executives say that they have a single view of their customer data, according to a Forbes Insights report. For other decision makers, customer data is still out of reach.
Solution #2: Customer data analysis is crucial to understand the behavioral pattern of customers and create engaging conversations or offer customized recommendations. Businesses need to break down data silos and have the relevant customer data available for decision makers to make the right CX decisions. By leveraging the benefits of a centralized content management tool that is rightly connected to CX applications, businesses can get a single view of customer journeys that can be easily accessed and analysed, when required, to deliver the right message to the customer.
Challenge #3: Capturing customer feedback in real-time
Most businesses don’t capture real-time customer feedback nor do they understand its importance. This may be due to the absence of appropriate CRM tools or lack of focus on this aspect. Real-time data is a powerful asset that helps improve businesses’ success rate and hence should not be ignored.
Solution #3: Real-time data or real-time customer feedback is crucial in shaping the experiences of customers. Using real-time feedback, it is easier to understand customers’ perception of the brand. It is an opportunity to know more about the customers’ preferences and to improve the brand in every possible way. Gathering feedback in real time is important as after a certain time lapse, the quality of response might not be accurate and effective. In today’s era of social networking and other digital platforms, it has become easier to procure customer feedback in real-time through live chat tools, survey forms, questionnaires, follow-up emails, and other kinds of latest CRM tools.
Challenge #4: Tracking CX metrics
Similar to real-time customer feedback, monitoring or tracking CX metrics is another factor that is often overlooked by CX professionals. These metrics is a measure of success of all your efforts towards implementing a CX program. Many marketers or CX professionals fail to monitor the CX metrics after a certain period of time.
Solution #4: The three important CX metrics that are often important to measure are customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Apart from these, defining and measuring other metrics such as purchase loyalty, retention loyalty, and ease of finding products can throw light on the factors that have a huge impact on the brand and business, as well as provide visibility on the areas or services that need improvement. Analyzing the customer journey can also significantly bring out the actual gray areas that need to be addressed to make a positive impact on CX.
Challenge #5: Measuring the impact of CX on ROI
A daunting challenge that CX professionals face is the difficulty of quantifying the impact of CX on business returns. Articulating the value that CX brings to the business in numbers and making a strong business case for seeking an approval for continued investment in CX projects is not as easy as it sounds. Measuring returns is the most daunting part of ROI calculation which is why it often gets overlooked.
Solution #5: For CX initiatives to be on the same footing as other business programs, a solid quantitative assessment of the return on CX investments needs to be put forth. Finding a connect between the customer experience and the business metrics is important. The best solution here is to analyze the customer journey. By identifying what drives customer satisfaction and finding a correlation between the customer experience and increase in earnings can quantify the impact on ROI. Similarly, analyzing various touchpoints along the customer journey such as a repeat purchase, churn, cross-sell, up-sell, revenue generated from new customers are some of the benefits that can reveal a great deal and justify a positive impact on the ROI through CX initiatives. To analyze customer journeys, there are various tools and technologies available that provide a complete report on each customer journey at the click of a button.
The emerging role of conversational AI in CX
From the above discussion, we have seen that analytics plays a major role in streamlining CX processes to a large extent. Data analysis can reveal stories on customer behavior and expectations, giving a clear picture on how to refine CX processes and strategies. However, businesses are broadening their horizons and moving away from traditional web analytics to conversational AI that is better equipped to solve CX challenges.
Apart from providing faster resolutions to common customer issues, conversational AI provide useful information on what customers want or what they are looking for. Conversational AI offers valuable insight on the sentiment and intent of customers assisting CX professionals to proactively engage in meaningful interactions and deliver exceptional personalized customer experience. This technological edge could prove to be a game-changer for early adopters.
Conclusion The meaning of customer experience has changed drastically during these times of pandemic. CX leaders who can visualize and anticipate the changing customer preferences and habits, and innovate accordingly to build long-lasting relationships with customers, will be in a better position to offer superior CX.