I originally wrote today’s post for Momentive.ai. It appeared on their site on January 25, 2022.
Customer expectations were already changing before COVID-19, but the pandemic has amplified them and accelerated new expectations.
These changes drove GetFeedback, the agile customer experience (CX) management solution by Momentive, to conduct research among 2,200 CX professionals worldwide.
How exactly has the industry evolved? And how can CX leaders navigate this new terrain to reach new heights? The 2022 State of CX Report presents these findings.
As a CX coach working with companies to understand their employees and customers, I was excited to dig into the report’s data. I was particularly intrigued to understand some of the emerging trends in the marketplace around customer expectations and the experiences overall.
In this article, I’ll comment on the findings from the report that I found most captivating, starting with a big one about employee experience. (Be sure to download your copy to get access to all of the findings!)
Key finding #1: employee experience is the biggest obstacle
“Employee motivation” and “skills and training” were the top inhibitors of successful customer experience programs.
Without your employees, you have no customer experience. Employee experience and customer experience are intertwined. You must ensure that your teams have a great experience at work and have access to the tools they need to do their jobs well in order to reduce employee churn and avoid loss of intellectual capital. (Here’s a blog post about how to improve the employee experience across the five stages of the employee lifecycle. Read it and then share it with your peers in HR.)
When I interview my clients’ employees, they often tell me that processes are broken, policies are outdated, and they don’t have the tools and resources “to serve their customers the way they deserve to be served.” (Their words, not mine.) You will need to fix that.
But what tools and training do employees need to deliver a great customer experience?
For starters, get to know your employees. Find out what they know about customers and customer experience before offering tools and training. Understanding their needs will enable you to design a better employee experience. It sounds like the work you need to do to create a better customer experience, doesn’t it?
Ask yourself: what tools do they need to help them serve customers the way they deserve? What problems are they trying to solve? What training would help them be more efficient?
We all like to learn and grow. A full 86% of employees say job training is vital to them—and 74% are willing to learn outside of work hours to improve their performance. Employee training means more confident teams and better service to your customers. Plus, you show employees that you believe in them, which also motivates them. Training and motivation can go hand in hand.
Motivation itself is harder to address, as people are motivated differently. You need to understand what motivates each employee. To uncover that, ask them; it’s the only way. Some may be shy about sharing that information face to face. Consider sending a survey or holding brainstorming sessions that allow employees to offer up ideas that can be voted on by the group.
SurveyMonkey has many employee experience survey templates that you can use to understand employee sentiment, including what’s influencing employee morale. Create surveys and send them to your team, or share these templates with your HR partners and work together to strategize on ways to measure and improve the employee experience.
Key finding #2: leadership Commitment is key to seeing results
I’m not a fan of using “buy-in” when it comes to executives, so I was happy to see that this research question was worded differently, with findings showing the degree to which executives are “invested” in CX initiatives. A stronger word would be “committed,” but I like “invested.”
“Invested in” does have a double meaning in this report. Respondents shared what degree executives were invested in CX efforts, how much, and to what end. When executives invest in customer experience, brands are three times more likely to yield return on investment (ROI) than those who don’t have that commitment from executives.
Executive commitment is imperative for your customer experience program. I was recently meeting with a new client, and the CEO asked me what factors are critical to success for the work they are about to begin. My immediate response was that he must lead the charge and commit to the resources––human, time, financial, etc.––necessary to learn about the customer and act on these findings.
Brands whose executives are invested in CX efforts are three times more likely to yield ROI than those that don’t.
How do you get executive commitment? By appealing to the left and right sides of their brains. The left (logical) side is all about data and numbers (“Show me the money!”). Build your business case by starting small; demonstrate quick wins that are tied to business outcomes. The right (emotional) side of the brain is about stories and seeing and feeling through the eyes of the customer. Immersion programs, survey verbatims, and journey maps are great ways to tell customer stories in their words.
Key finding #3: company culture needs your attention
With this finding about culture needing your attention, we’ve covered the top three factors that are critical to customer experience efforts:
- Culture is the foundation of the business and of your customer experience strategy
- Leadership commitment is vital to success
- Employee experience drives customer experience
Company culture is the combination of “core values” plus “behaviors.”
Brainstorm with different department leaders the desired behaviors associated with each value. This includes behaviors that you believe are in line with the intent of the value, behaviors that would make you proud to work for this company, and behaviors that are deliberately aligned with the culture you are designing. For further clarity, you can outline behaviors that are not acceptable due to this core value.
It’s important to know that a customer-centric culture is deliberately designed to be that way. You will have customer-driven values and require CEO and executive commitment to put the customer at the heart of the business. I always say, “No discussions, no decisions, no designs, without asking: How will it impact the customer? How will it make them feel? What value will it add? What problem will it solve for them?”
One final note on culture: it’s not enough to have your core values on your website; they must be socialized and operationalized. Use them when you hire, fire, and promote. They must be factored into process and policy design, as well as decision making. Ensure that these values are lived and breathed every day.
Key finding #4: top ROI metrics used are growth and retention
There are three commonly-used metrics when folks try to build the business case and show return on investment (ROI) for their CX initiatives:
- Cost to serve
Your executives may want you to build on all three of these or select the one that is most relevant for the business; however, it’s typically easier (and faster) to show process improvements that yield cost savings than to immediately try to link improvements to revenue growth as there are many different contributing factors.
Retention would be my second “easiest” pick because revenue growth is often attributed to a lot of things going on in the business, not just your CX improvement initiatives. (Although, shouldn’t they all be CX improvement initiatives?)
What did GetFeedback uncover? Growth and retention are the two metrics used most often to measure ROI of CX initiatives. Growth is used most often in the U.S., while retention is used most often in Europe. Also interesting: cost to serve is the second most used metric in the U.S., while growth is the second most used in Europe.
Download the full report for more trends
That’s just a taste of the findings from The 2022 State of CX Report. This 52-page report is packed with many interesting findings you ought to consider as you plan out your CX strategy work for 2022. The more informed you are, the more prepared you’ll be to take on what lies ahead.
Trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are going. ~ John Naisbitt
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2021, she wrote the manuscript for her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business, which is now available to preorder on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.
Images courtesy of GetFeedback and Pixabay.