Customer Experience or CX revolves around making a pipeline of sales and service in order to improve the brand’s interaction with their customer. When an organization invests in customer experience transformation, the company is likely to face certain benefits which can be listed as:
- By streamlining the customer and employee experience, CX helps promote a positive work culture and helps make the workspace more productive and energetic.
- With changing consumer needs and preferences, CX helps an organization adapt to these changes efficiently.
- With CX customer retention is higher as they are satisfied with the experience and likely remain loyal customers to the brand.
- Focusing on customer experience leads to more efficient management of the system aimed at providing the best experience possible.
In this blog, we take our readers through the analytical conversation that Shruti Jadhav, Associate Research Director, Quadrant Knowledge Solutions had with Kenneth Peterson, President CX, QuestionPro.
CX domain and its highlights
Starting with the lead conversationist, Shruti Jadhav introduced the guest speaker for the blog and dived directly into asking Kenneth to highlight some of his important learnings in the CX domain. To this, Kenneth recollects the overall years that he has worked between CX and operations and he stresses two different factors, numbers and humans. According to him, these two factors are difficult to connect, and Kenneth remembers his past office experience in the back end where he run run spreadsheets on various factors like a sales forecast, inventory tracking and, according to him, the most important one was labour planning. He dives into the detail of labour planning which revolves around checking boxes based on sales forecasts and how the labour is allocated on the main production floor this entire process is completely different from what is being calculated on paper and the reality. The disconnection happens primarily on the human end and Kenneth gives an example where employees have been delayed in work because of family commitments and one cannot simply forget the sensitive balance that has to be maintained between numbers speaking more for the experience and humans speaking for the experience. The other thing that Kenneth has learned from being in the industry all these years in the industry is no matter how great a technology platform is, it can never overcome a bad customer experience platform.
CX and evolution
With mutual agreement from Shruti, he shares a piece of her mind and explains that the customer experience domain has undergone changes and has been impacted by the pandemic. With this, she asks Kenneth a very important question on how the CX strategy has evolved over the years and in which direction he sees it progressing. Kenneth responds by saying that the answer to this question will vary from person to person. A technology provider will respond by saying that AI has bought about a change in the CX domain and will impact it if it has not started yet. Research has only scratched the surface of AI and even with the progress made, there is a lot to be desired. On the other end, a provider will argue about the importance of service and consultation. A company will try to talk about hiring and training. However, customers are in the best position to answer how CX has changed and these customers are all saying that the service is not at a satisfactory level. Companies and researchers are putting on blinders to these remarks and customers keep complaining about how the service is not satisfactory and they are not able to get the help they need at the right time. For example, during the pandemic, airline services were at their worse as they were not equipped with staff to handle these situations. To sum it up, Kenneth points out how things have changed and not changed in the CX domain.
Shruti adds to the conversation by pointing out that these problems are still persistent because of the increase in the number of channels and touchpoints and customers now have various channels to interact with a brand. Kenneth agrees wholeheartedly with this statement and adds his own remark by saying that there are companies out there claiming to be the best in CX but do not live up to the expectation.
CX and technological advancements
With this Shruti takes the conversation forward and talks about the various technological advancements happening in the CX domain with different types of tools emerging in the market. She asks Kenneth to point out a few tools and technology strategies that companies are investing in to improve their brand loyalty and customer retention. Kenneth recollects how back in the year 2002-03 they were migrating out from telephonic surveys and they has one IVR survey which would transition all customer surveys online. Way back then, people claimed that surveys would be dead in a decade or so. Even after all this time, surveys are still around but the trends have sifted to creating value out of these customer surveys and not just increasing the number of surveys performed. Even with professional market researchers out there, customers are filling up their surveys without putting second thought and this at times caused biased market research results. Kenneth points out that on telephonic surveys, a customer could be asked extra questions, and, in the present, a customer is just mindlessly filling up a review form. He points out that even though customer surveys will always be in trend, winners will be those companies that can tie up store, survey, and mail interactions to combine resources and bring the best value to customers.
CX and perspective on Experience and Service
After concluding this question, Shruti takes the conversation forward and points out the thin line that exists between customer experience and customer service and there is a significant amount of confusion. So Shruti asks Kenneth to give his perspective on the matter. To this Kenneth points out that his current company just acquired another company called Suite CX and their journey mapping tool is all about the touch point and being able to bring it together to form a map. With all the data visually represented for all the points, helps get valuable information more easily, leading to problems getting addressed more quickly. From addressing problems in call centres to improving click rates from checkout to purchase, the combination of operational matrix and CX journey mapping helps derive the optimum solutions.
CX and tools to look out for in 2023
At this point, Shruti points out that companies already have a large amount of data in their system and any actionable insight from these data is often difficult with the recent hype around personalization and hyper-personalization, she asks Kenneth to point out some of the tools that are in the market on which brand is relying and heavily investing to improve the customer experience. Kenneth explains how his teenage children interact very differently with brands and how he has interacted all this while and he sees an enormous difference. People would generally walk into a store and probably check out the website beforehand but nowadays individuals are engaging with brands on social media. Old-school brands took a long time to get on the social media bandwagon and even after a social media presence, these brands are interacting with their consumers in a very traditional way. However, newer brands are jumping on non-traditional trends and some brands have gone as far as only selling their brands on certain social media platforms. These newer brands are only targeting a niche audience and only certain people have exclusive access to these websites and their products. Unlike older business brands that cater to all audiences, these newer brands are very specific about the age group they are targeting to sell their products. When talking about emerging brands, their foremost mission statement is mostly about serving society and making a great customer experience meanwhile this ideology is not seen in older brands that have been in existence for decades.
CX and the difference between Experience and Service
Again, focusing on the thin line between customer experience and customer service, Shruti indicates the confusion that exists between the two and asks Kenneth to give his perspective on the matter. He points out that if a person put up “Customer Experience” in any search engine, they are most likely to get contacts of field marketing representatives who are part of customer service. According to him, one cannot be out above another but without customer service, there is no customer experience. He gives an example that any person going to a company website and facing a problem should be able to contact someone and get the issue sorted. Kenneth specifies that CX does not mean survey but about a strategy and a commitment to treat customers better and CX starts building from there, with customer service a part of the experience.
CX and personalization problem
Next, Kenneth talks about brand personalization and how some struggle with this. He gives an example wherein he sends thirty-five B2B surveys to individuals involving questions thoroughly asking about certain tools and services used and he saw people struggling with the same. This makes him point out that if a company is not able to personalize for thirty-five people how will they make it for twenty million customers. He then goes on to mention an individual names Jonathan Hawkins from a company called Anthrolytics and this individual talks about empathy at scale and how to deliver it. All AIs are great at personalizing but the important thing to note is when to trigger that empathy. Kenneth specifies that in supermarkets there are self-checkout kiosks that help customers check out with their few groceries easily instead of waiting in line. However, irrespective of this technological advancement, if a person needs assistance, the machine cannot notify people who can assist. He further highlights that if a customer is pausing in the self-checkout kiosk because they forgot one item, the machine is not programmed to ask the customer why they have paused and if they need something else. So empathy is an important factor that needs to be imperative in the personalization experience and no matter how advanced we make an AI system, empathy will still be lagging.
CX and best practice companies can adopt
With this interesting statement, Shruti takes the conversation forward by pointing out the CX tools and technology advancements going out there, companies still face problems in using the best CX tools and ask Kenneth’s opinion on the same. He notes that when it comes to technology, people have become successful in creating features that are flashy which attracts a majority of people. Kenneth gives a real-life example where his company is all about the journey and measuring multiple tough points but if a company approaches QuestionPro to measure one touch point and complete a few surveys he would not suggest his company to be a solution provider. Kenneth’s biggest advice on this topic is awareness of what the companies are buying. Brands and companies should understand that buying CX software is not going to fix their problem but make them aware of their problems. Hence, it is important for brands to follow this and be aware of the strategy they would be following. Before a company invests in a customer journey mapping tool, they have to be aware of the end goal for which it will be using the tool. Kenneth advises companies to start matching up with the image they want to portray and the customer experience they want to deliver.
With this Shruti ends the conversation by stating that organizations need to be cognizant when it comes to choosing the right set of CX tools and it should resonate with the company’s overall business goals and CX strategy.
We hope that our readers were enlightened by the advice put forth by Kenneth and Shruti which not only informed but guided us on how to take the right decisions on the CX domain.
Shinjini Sarkar, Senior Content Specialist, Quadrant Knowledge Solutions.