3 Trends to Raise the Customer Experience Bar

Recently I took part in a couple of industry events centered around customer experience. These events are great, as they allowed me to meet with many other customer experience leaders in different markets, industries, and geographies. Many of these companies have gained a very mature voice of customer processes as well as analytics from years of surveying and listening to their customers. Many of them also have leveraged third parties to assist them with measuring data on their competitors’ customers to understand how they perform against the competition.

One thing became crystal clear from these meetings: The bar is constantly being raised. Here are three considerations for keeping pace with evolving customer experience expectations.

  1. It’s not about the numbers. Aiming for a specific Net Promoter Score (NPS) percentage is not the end game. Sure, it’s helpful, because it allows you to manage trends of your own performance. But if the industry you compete in is making massive improvements and you lag behind them, the number alone is less relative. Innovation in your analytics, process, sample size, segmentation, and more enables you to focus on the segments that are most important to you and your company. Many companies aim for a certain number at a certain point in time, but that doesn’t work. Experience shows that if you aim for a number, you will get there, but you’ll lose sight of the real goal—improving the experience to breed advocacy.
  1. Loyalty is important, but advocacy fuels growth. Earlier this year, Accenture Strategy released their 12th Annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey, and I had the opportunity to watch a presentation of the high-level findings. Accenture surveyed 25,000 consumers across 11 industries in 33 countries. I won’t steal all the thunder from the report, but one thing that stood out is that 61% of consumers switched providers in 2016—resulting in about $6 trillion “changing hands” among companies that are competing for wallet share. In the United States along. That means $6 trillion changed hands without any additional value creation; consumers were frustrated with the experiences they have received and voted with their wallets—taking their business elsewhere. These consumers may have been loyal to that brand for many years, but something happened (or didn’t happen) to make them switch. If they were advocates for the brand, research shows that not only would they stick around but they would tell their family and friends about why they should also use company X.
  1. Understand the economics. Segmentation is critical to understand how your organization links execution to strategy for performance. Most companies compete in several parts of a market—small- and medium-sized, mid-market, enterprise, and more. How you serve these customer segments can be very different regarding cost to acquire, cost to serve, and price sensitivity. For example, a high acquisition cost plus a high cost to serve coupled with high-price sensitivity almost always equals low profitability for a company. Some customer segments are more strategic than others. Some are high growth or highly profitable or just highly strategic as they execute a five-year plan. Listening to your customers is critical for success, but knowing which levers you can and should pull based on their feedback is always a balancing act.

Look for ways to move beyond simply keeping score—deeply understand your customers holistically and transform your customer experience practice to one that is rooted in advocates.