Last month I attended Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in New York, which was a chance to check in on the latest thinking and priorities of the wider customer experience (CX) industry.
This sector seems to be growing rapidly. The event was attended by over 1200 people, and was a third larger in size than 2010. I noticed many organisations were represented by two or three delegates, rather than a lone Customer Experience Manager.
Most people I talked to from consumer facing brands reported a noticeable increase in investment in CX over the last 12 months. There was a sense that it has moved up the strategic agenda and now sits as a priority area for many executive boards. There’s a growing understanding that the experience in interacting with a brand is instrumental in the decision to become a customer, and goes on to govern the depth and longevity of that relationship.
So what was the latest thinking in Customer Experience?
There’s a lot of focus on delivering consistent experience across multiple touch points. Too many brands are allowing their internal channel silos to give customers a disjointed experience.
Amex showed us the importance of giving front line staff the tools, skills and authority to solve a customer’s problem at the first attempt. They recognised that being transferred from one call centre to another damaged the brand from a customer’s point of view and destroys the morale of their call centre teams. They embraced the importance of empowering customer facing staff, and made them aware of how they contribute to the ultimate success of the company; rewarding them on having satisfied customers, not efficiency metrics. It made for both happier staff, and happier customers.
Mobile has entered the mainstream channel mix for the first time. Forrester’s Julie Ask did a great session on the future of mobile. Whilst at present, most brands are still simply trying to present an extension of their branded experience onto this channel, Ask expects in the next few years that brands will get more sophisticated in their understanding and interpretation of a user’s location, time and context, to provide a more immediately relevant and personalised mobile experience.
Show me the actionable insight?
Despite all above, my overall impression as I came away was that CX is still too focussed on ways to measure customer satisfaction. Having Voice of Customer (VoC) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) programmes is all well and good, but I didn’t see much on how to interpret the data they have. I would argue that the industry is still a little too focussed on ‘What’ is happening, rather than focussing on ‘Why’.
Perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of the User Experience industry’s book, which in the last few years has redefined its role in digital channels, to provide actionable insight and experience design strategy, helping companies build successful and highly effective sales channels that also rate highly for customer satisfaction.