Customer experience (CX) is central to creating value and it is even more important in times of crisis when brands need to fight harder for their customers.
Kantar BrandZ data shows that brands with strong customer experience grow their brand value at a much higher rate than those with weaker customer experience; yet Forrester research reveals that less than half of CX pros say they can prove the business impact of changes in CX. Our experience at Kantar shows that by taking four mighty steps, you can amplify the CX agenda within your organisation and demonstrate the strategic value of CX.
1. Small but mighty – build momentum to prove impact
It is very tempting to aim for a ‘big bang’ strategic initiative or programme that tackles the big questions and challenges within your business in one hit. Often these flounder and erode confidence in CX programmes. To go big requires a level of CX maturity within your business that is often not present. Why? Because you need firstly to build it.
Don’t attempt to go too big too quickly. Rather, pick an area where you can have an impact and demonstrate the win in terms of dollars earned or saved, customers won or retained, or value grown. For example, we partnered with a large global retailer, and by looking just at the physical store experience, we uncovered a ‘frontline friendliness model’ that informed future service delivery in these channels. The result? Three times higher revenues at sites who adopted this model. And for a major credit card brand, we uncovered their largest blocker of customers adopting specific product features and helped them shift focus from acquisition to customer education and activation.
It’s imperative to work with your business to unpack known problem areas and spend the time learning from the experience of your customers to identify what will make an impact and how to action it. Most importantly, monitor the outcome to demonstrate the benefit to the business. Do this and make the business owners of these areas the ‘heroes’ so they become your CX champions and support for future initiatives. Proving impact evolves your CX narrative from defence and investment to strategic input.
2. Mightier together – connect siloes to optimise investment priorities
Typically, programmes sit in isolation – brand, creative/ad effectiveness and customer and employee experience. While all are very expertly designed and considered, they’re often very independent. So, when your C-Suite ask where to invest for the biggest impact, such as media or self-service channels, it is extremely difficult to know.
Connecting these silos can be one of the most challenging but beneficial goals for all your programmes. Generating the perspective of the relative impact and importance of each touchpoint and tool at your disposal will identify where investment will have the greatest return on investment.
Did you know that your top 10 touchpoints will drive over 80 per cent of your brand impact? So, by connecting the silos you can:
- uncover which touchpoints deliver the most impact
- understand your performance against your competitors to identify the priority touchpoints that require attention
- kick start initiatives to understand how to improve performance in these areas.
For example, for a coffee retailer, we uncovered their most significant touchpoint (from the perspective of business performance) was shelf presence – and this was performing below other brands. We also identified a gap in both their social media presence and sampling strategy relative to their potential impact. TV and product usage experiences were identified as leading the category. This helped focus the brand to invest in key touchpoints and improve to supercharge their performance.
3. Mighty metrics – know your lead and lag indicators
Do you know your beacon metrics? Those that tell you there is a customer retention or revenue loss problem coming and give you the opportunity to jump in and course correct. Often businesses pick KPIs that are lag indicators. For example, NPS – the result of all experiences and mental connections people have towards a brand – is not dependant on one specific interaction.
When NPS shifts, the business will always ask ‘why’; but the answer is often vague, unclear and related to things that happened months ago. So, businesses develop driver models to understand the biggest impacts on NPS and other KPIs, but again, because the analytical processes behind these driver models look to identify similar patterns in response, they can also skew to other lag indicators. This doesn’t mean they are not valuable – they can be very much so – but we need to keep in mind what role they perform.
Lead indicators are those that move before the KPIs do. They give us the ability to forecast future problems and act. It’s imperative to do the work to identify your lead metrics. These deliver visibility in closer to ‘real time’ to allow intervention and reduce the likelihood of money going out the door.
Lead indicators tend to sit within and outside of the CX survey metrics themselves. Look at how Employee Experience aligns or leads the Customer Experience. Look for how volume of contact across specific touchpoints or channels might lead an uptick in preference/NPS or an erosion of satisfaction (depending on how well aligned the experience is to expectation). Social media and search behavioural patterns can often be a strong lead indicator or advocacy. Price changes generally lead shifts in other perceptions. Know your lead and lag metrics because they will help you focus and make sense of the data movements.
4. Mighty memories – be ‘meaningfully different’ to supercharge business performance
When it comes to CX, if you just follow what the research and the UX testing tells you about how to create a good journey, you’ll create a good, efficient one – but one that is most likely identical to your competitors. So, while you need to meet consumers’ emotive and functional needs, you also need a signature difference for your brand only.
A ‘meaningful’ brand builds a clear and consistent emotional connection with consumers and is seen to deliver against their needs. The power of ‘difference’ reveals the extent to which some brands are seen to offer something that others don’t and lead the way. Define a clear perspective on which parts of your CX are fine to be just like everyone else and those that must differentiate your brand. Embrace consumer-centricity but don’t forget about brand-centricity and re-set the business expectations of what great CX looks like. By defining a signature experience that is distinctive to your brand, you will go the extra mile. Offering ‘meaningfully different’ CX will help supercharge your business performance and make your brand more resilient, especially important in the current consumer and market context.
To stand out, embrace customer obsession and pursue CX innovations that differentiate your brand. Stop relying on CX strategies that consumers perceive as similar. Difference matters. Think about how to create and curate meaningfully different experiences in the moments that matter. By doing this, we proved for a leading bank that landing ‘difference’ reduced their chance of specific customer churn by 50 per cent.
Amplify your CX agenda
The disconnect between CX measurement and business performance remains a challenge for many and this is not surprising. Demonstrating impact and creating a truly customer-centric culture that can impact change is extremely challenging and requires long-term commitment and a multi-discipline approach. Setting up a CX measurement programme is just the start – a lot of hard work – but just the start. Once your ‘listening ears’ are switched on, the focus must shift to targeting specific initiatives to evolve your CX program from looking in the rear-view mirror to one that is future-focused, proactive and tackles key business issues.
As CX leaders, how do we help optimise budgets while at the same time have the biggest impact on customer experience? How can we differentiate and build our brand through the experiences we deliver every day? How can we change the way we speak about what we do and build an objective, commercially orientated narrative? Well, you cannot do this alone. You need sponsors, advocates and the right partners with a tool kit that goes beyond traditional measurement expertise. It’s what will deliver the CX-factor to lead your business into supercharging growth.
Get in touch to find out more.