Customer Experience (CX) in Context

By Cindy Blackstock, CEO and Founder

Customer experience—say it and everyone’s ears perk up. CX is influencing and intersecting with consumer insights across most business sectors: CPG, Retail, Automotive, Financial and Healthcare, to name a few. 

The X Factor

Despite it being a buzz worthy term, there doesn’t seem to be a singular, agreed-upon, industry-wide definition for the term customer experience, affectionately referred to as CX.  Definitions and approaches to CX vary but most just want to know what that “X” factor means for categories, brand, and products.

Here at SIVO, we have our own perspective: 

Customer experience is the customer’s behaviors, perceptions, and feelings about their interactions with an organization, brand, product, or service. 

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 quantitative and qualitative research experts who are skilled at understanding people to reveal their truths. Through the optimal combination of quantitative and qualitative research approaches, we get to the “what” by collecting customer experience data, identifying the touchpoints along the customer journey. Then, we get to the “why” behind the customer experience data—the stories, emotions, pain points and delights—and translate it into actionable ideas that businesses can use. The two research approaches go hand in hand with the discipline of CX. 

Data + Stories = A Winning Formula

Many market research vendors try to capture the customer experience primarily through quantitative research techniques. Survey data is essential for quantifying the various paths and touchpoints along the customer journey. It plays an important role in validating the experience, so teams can also measure change over time. But the process can’t stop there. Survey data is necessary but is not a comprehensive measure of the customer’s voice. 

SIVO believes clients need a better blend of data and stories to get the complete picture. It is the human component, in a truly “experiential” in-context setting, that brings the customer experience to life. To make a business impact, organizations need that qualitative, intimate understanding of the experience, to find out what is truly happening during each touch point. In other words, we believe that quantitative research helps identify what to improve, and qualitative research helps identify how to improve the customer experience. 

The Steps to Insights 

Your customers are on a journey. There may be many individual stops on the route that make up the overall experience. For example, access may be acceptable, customer service may be satisfying, but there may be positive and negative aspects of the product experience for the user. All these individual touchpoints may net to an acceptable customer experience but may not reveal the nuanced opportunity areas that could lead to an improved experience. Brand teams 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 detailed human element of CX.

SIVO stiches together a map, an outline of the touchpoints that make up the journey of the entire customer experience. SIVO’s typical approach is 4 Steps: 

With preliminary insights that build team intuition, quantitative survey data to build and validate the journey, followed by qualitative deep dives to uncover the nuanced details, the true customer experience can be revealed. Teams can map customers’ interaction with the brand across each touchpoint, identify opportunity areas to act on and then track the customer experience annually, to ensure the quality of the experience remains positive or improves over time. 

With the journey maps in hand, SIVO’s best practice is to facilitate an Activation Session so that client teams can immerse themselves in the journey and the voices of the customer. A few group discussions and exercises help teams to digest the learning, translate and prioritize into an action plan that can be shared with key stakeholders across the organization.   

To discuss your customer experience research needs with experts from SIVO, please reach out to our team at Contact@SIVOInsights.com

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