We all recognize a bad customer experience (CX) when we have to suffer through one. But we all appreciate great CX when interactions with our chosen vendors, retailers, or providers are low-effort, personalized for our needs, and ultimately successful. Whether placing an order, correcting a problem, or simply checking status, the loyalty and satisfaction we feel afterward—or the disappointment—is a reflection of the experience.
Companies today spend significant resources optimizing customer experience because executives recognize its impact on the bottom line. Gartner has found that 89% of marketing leaders expect their companies to compete primarily based on customer experience moving forward. In fact, CX is expected to overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator by 2020.
So what’s the best way to drive CX improvements for competitive advantage? Take the long view and measure your customers’ past Journey Experience and sentiment history.
How a Large Enterprise Measures Customer Experience Today
Because our most worthwhile connections in life are built on love, assessing customer experience typically means measuring a brand’s customer love. Accenture even attempted to quantify love for a brand experience through a metric called the ‘Accenture Love Index’, and InteQ, a loyalty agency for retailers adds an emotional component to generate their ‘customer love scores’. But in the end, love for a brand is really expressed by customers through repeat business, increased spend, or brand advocacy—people recommending the company or its products to family, friends and colleagues. Deepening customer love requires taking a long-term view of sentiment history, and also demands listening to a majority of your customers. Too many companies only hear from 1% of their base, likely when things go very wrong or very right.
Most companies only analyze individual touchpoints, like applying online for a bank loan, or buying products on a website, or the physical experience of shopping in a retail store. CX is then quantified in-the-moment, with most using metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) to determine if customers are satisfied enough to recommend the brand to others. Some companies use mapping tools to plan out future interactions to reduce frustration and improve overall satisfaction. But typically, CX is more of a forward-looking concept designed to streamline business.
To Know Where You’re Going, You Need to Know Where You’ve Been
Enhancing customer experience for the future means you must not only understand happiness and satisfaction at each touchpoint, but also measure how sentiment has changed over time—across the variety of interactions. This understanding comes from looking at your customers’ Journey Experience (JX), i.e. what customers have undergone with your brand or product in the past.
Measuring past Journey Experience often reveals a winding path, where emotions waver over time as customers encounter varying brand or product experiences, ranging from love to heartbreak or disappointment. In those cases, your ability to take corrective action—i.e. to win them back and rekindle the love—often leads to a degree of loyalty that is even stronger than before because you’ve earned their trust and reinforced their decision to patronize your brand.
It’s only by looking back over historical engagement and feedback that you can fully understand customers and work to be truly customer centric. Over the course of the customer lifecycle, analyzing Journey Experience allows you to see a series of pointers to times and places where your actions or other events caused them to switch from fan to critic, from promoter to detractor, or from love to disappointment.
“There is no such thing as too much feedback. And feedback over the journey experience provides great insight into the quality of your customer experience.”
—Mike Hilton, Chief Product Officer at Accolade & Co-founder of Concur
Brand Interactions Happen Increasingly Through Mobile Apps
While mobile has become the primary listening post for most enterprises, Journey Experience happens across many different touch points, channels, and devices. Aggregating all of these pieces creates an opportunity to build a ‘network of feedback’, and truly be responsive to customer needs.
Correlated with transactional data on specific activity enables drilling into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ specific changes in sentiment occurred. This provides better insights and lessons learned from past events, campaigns or other changes in their journey, and illustrates requirements for better CX in the future. Analyzing the Journey Experience of specific customer segments (like VIP or frequent buyer groups), as well as unique individuals, helps you optimize future actions and campaigns which drive better CX and improve loyalty.
Great CX comes from proactively capturing and analyzing customer feedback and sentiment across multiple dimensions, including time (history) and place (or device), then correlating that data with past events and activities which impacted customer love and relationships.
Measuring customer experience over all the interaction times and touch points makes you ready for the long journey ahead to grow customer love and loyalty.