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Customer experience has become so important—even more important than products themselves—that more than 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great one, according to research by Capgemini. And yet the same report showed that while 75% of companies believe themselves to be customer-centric, only 30% of customers feel this is the case.
Quite a disconnect. So what’s stopping more companies from improving their customer experience?
In some cases, executives are reluctant to invest in customer experience (CX) because they find it hard to project the ROI of these initiatives—despite studies like one by Forrester last year that determined CX has a tangible effect on revenue, customer loyalty, and even stock performance.
Secondly, improving the CX a company provides necessitates a cultural shift. It requires a company-wide commitment and sense of ownership for customer experience by every employee. That’s a big leap when many businesses have no established process or budget for improvements.
How then can a company overhaul its approach to CX and reach the promised land of brand loyalty? You wouldn’t try to navigate an unfamiliar city without a map app, and the same should hold true for the CX journey. You need a blueprint.
The first step, as obvious as it may seem, is to establish where you currently are. What is the organization’s CX maturity level? Maturity levels can be classified as aware, reactive, optimized, and visionary.
To climb the ladder of maturity, it’s important to assess where you fall within each of the following pillars that impact your maturity level: strategy, culture, technology, governance, and measurement. Drilling down into the five pillars:
The desired state of strategy is where insight collection and customer-centric decision making are integrated into process, everyone is empowered to understand customers, and customer understanding is aligned to business strategy.
To empower customer-centricity throughout the organization, companies can set up centers of excellence that oversee the program, collect strategic and foundational customer insights that drive strategic direction, create training and tools, and are embedded in key product and service initiatives.
A strong customer-driven culture is where executives have fully bought in on the importance of CX, the company has shared values and behaviors around delivering a great experience, especially around hiring, socialization and rewards, and, last but not least, endless curiosity about customers permeates everything the business does.
Articulating the need to encourage endless curiosity, Jeff Bezos said in his 2019 letter to shareholders, "Sometimes (often actually) in business, you do know where you're going, and when you do, you can be efficient. Put in place a plan and execute. In contrast, wandering in business is not efficient...but it's also not random. It's guided—by hunch, gut, intuition, curiosity, and powered by a deep conviction that the prize for customers is big enough that it's worth being a little messy and tangential to find our way there."
An optimal technology pillar means the company has a suite of quantitative and qualitative platforms to gather and analyze customer data and insights, teams have broad access to platforms that support customer-driven decision making, and a system for sharing and storing customer data and insights is in place.
An optimal governance program involves customer empathy responsibilities defined by role, training and empowerment programs to drive success, and appropriate workflows to retain integrity.
To make sure everyone up and down and across the organization is invested in CX, companies should establish “immersion hours” in which people at all levels dedicate time to specific tasks that involve interacting with, observing and understanding customers.
And finally, a strong measurement program means a measurement framework is in place and adopted, it is focused on key business metrics (cost avoidance, revenue, etc.), and the impact of changes based on insights from customers are measured.
When assessing your CX maturity, you are likely stronger in some pillars as compared to others. When in this position, you have a couple choices. You can optimize and really double-down on where you are strong or you can focus on building the pillars that are weak.
In today’s digital world, saying you offer a great customer experience isn’t nearly enough. You have to prove it every day, with a carefully devised, ongoing plan that helps everyone in the organization be customer-first. And in order to get to this promised land, you must invest in the five pillars of CX maturity to move your practice—and the success of your organization—ahead.
This post was originally published by our friends at CMS Wire and is shared with their permission.
About the author:
Janelle is UserTesting's Chief Insights Officer and an expert research practitioner fascinated by human behavior and intrigued by data insight. She brings over 15 years of experience conducting large-scale customer research initiatives with both B2C and B2B companies across a variety of industries to help them transform their customer, user, and brand experiences.