Written by: Cindy Blackstock, Managing Partner
Customer experience—say it and everyone’s ears perk up. It’s the hot topic in our industry. While attending the recent CX Next conference in Boston with the SIVO team, we saw how CX is influencing and intersecting with consumer insights.
The X Factor
Despite being a shiny and buzzworthy idea, it seems as though there is not yet a singular, agreed-upon, industry-wide definition for the term customer experience – affectionately referred to as CX. We spoke with presenters and attendees at the conference and asked, “Tell us what customer experience is about.” We never got the same answer. It became apparent that everyone is exploring what that “X” factor means for categories, brand and products.
Here at SIVO, we have our own perspective:
Customer experience is the customer’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings about their interactions related to an organization or brand.
In truth, we have been working to reveal the customer experience all along. For us, it’s not an intimidating or nebulous concept, because we are qualitative experts who can uncover these customer perceptions. We get to the “why” behind the customer experience data and translate it into actionable ideas that businesses can use. Our work goes hand in hand with the emerging discipline of CX.
Data + Stories = A Winning Formula
At the conference, we learned that for typical customer experience research, the information is primarily quantitative. Quantitative research is essential for validation, since data, surveys and results play a role in helping to measure change over time. But the process can’t stop there, since survey data is not a comprehensive measure of the consumer’s voice.
I believe clients need a better blend of data and stories—companies need to have the human component, the truly “experiential” piece to bring the data to life. And to make a business impact, organizations need that qualitative, intimate understanding to find out what is behind the data. I think the quantitative helps identify whatto fix, and qualitative helps identify howto fix it.
The Brand Voyage
Customers are also on a journey with a brand. And it’s the whole trip, not the individual stops on the route that predict success. For example, the customer service may be acceptable, but the whole brand experience is negative for the user. So a brand might get a high rating in a survey about customer service, but that one interaction will not reveal the whole story. Brands need to talk to customers and ask, “How are you doing?” instead of, “How are we (the company) doing?” These questions reveal the crucial and impactful, human element of CX.
The brand journey is also structured differently for customers. Most organizations are vertical, while experience for customers is horizontal. SIVO stiches together a map, an outline of the horizontal journey of the customer experience. From there, we decide where to go deeper:
- Start with customer voices
- Create a customer journey map
- Identify the touch points
- Dive deep into processes, tools and people
With key consumer insights to illuminate the quantitative data, customer experience can be a true relationship. Customers can interact with the brand across each and every touchpoint, instead of a one-time “event.”
Making CX Count
When customers have many stops along the total journey with a brand, there are many opportunities to engage and enhance the relationship. And SIVO believes in leveraging those touchpoints to make a real impact:
- Exceed expectations where they count
- Make a positive impact at critical moments and earn loyalty
- Make the customer experience have real meaning
Carry these thoughts in your “suitcase” as you embark your own journey.