As companies are ramping up their 2019 initiatives at the beginning of this year, it’s a good opportunity to look back on what we’ve learned in 2018. As customer experience leaders, we have to set the tone for our organizations by acknowledging customer needs and motivations.
Reports like Forrester’s Customer Experience Index are helpful for CX leaders, because they help us to understand the environment in which our customers are interacting with companies and brands every day. They help us to level set expectations.
Today, I want to explore 3 challenges brands are facing in 2019 and what your company should do about them.
Challenge 1: At the top, it’s difficult to improve.
According to Forrester, a “stagnation” among top brand left a leadership gap:
Elite brands’ scores remained static. We refer to the top 5% of brands across all industries in the CX Index as the “elite brands.” Of the 15 elite brands that were in the CX Index last year, 12 showed no statistically significant score change. In fact, of the 11 elites that were repeats from 2017, only USAA’s direct banking business displayed any change — a small drop that reverses a gain it made last year.
Opportunity: Incremental growth is still important in 2019, and now more than ever, reliable experiences that trigger word of mouth are key. For brands looking to make a difference in the perception of their CX, I recommend that companies focus on experience reliability. In my book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0, I share that the London School of Economics has determined that there is a 300% revenue gain to be had by focusing on reliability versus wow moments.
Why is experience reliability so key? When your experience is unreliable, the most powerful way to grow will suffer: positive word of mouth. If the experience you deliver to customers is not consistent and reliable no matter what channel or silo or location they interact with, then customers won’t vouch for you. That will impact recommendations and organic growth. Recent research by my friend Jay Baer’s company, Convince & Convert, showed that 83% of Americans say that word of mouth makes them more likely to purchase a product/service. Therefore, even if you’re at the top of your game, your company should audit the customer experience and determine if there are opportunities to test and improve.
When your experience is unreliable, the most powerful way to grow will suffer: positive word of mouth. If the #CX you deliver to customers is not consistent and reliable, then customers won’t vouch for you. Click To Tweet
Challenge 2: Many brands don’t stand out against their competitors.
The Forrester data shows us that fewer brands are differentiated against their competitors, with more of them being perceived as “OK” or middle of the road:
The number of good and poor scores dipped, while the number of OK scores rose. The percentage of brands in the good category diminished from 16% to 15% as the quality of some brands’ CX fell (see Figure 21).2 Similarly, the percentage of brands at the poor level shrank from 23% to 21% as the quality of their CX rose. As a result, the percentage of brands in the OK category swelled from 59% to 62%.
Opportunity: To truly differentiate your company and become perceived as “good” or “excellent,” your company MUST focus on the life of the customer, changing the company’s behavior to deliver value and be trusted by its customers. This goes beyond focusing on tasks to focusing on the organization as a whole.
In 2019, I’m encouraging leaders to put their skin in the game and truly invest in changing their organizations by focusing on advocating for their customers at every step of their customer journeys.
Challenge 3: Brands must tap into multiple, positive emotions.
Forrester’s research shows that the top six most important emotions were: appreciated, confident, grateful, happy, respected, valued. These emotions demonstrate that there is a range of experience that companies can and should address for customers, so that they become more loyal. It’s not just about customers perceiving respect or happiness; it’s also about customers feeling confident in their choices.
Brand performance in the US CX Index, 2018 reflects this: Elite brands provided an average of 22 emotionally positive experiences for each negative experience, while the lowest-performing 5% of brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative experience.
Opportunity: In two recent episodes of my Daily Dose Vlog, I talk about the importance of earning long-term relationships by taking the fear out of the experience and respecting the customers through enabling graceful departures. These are important examples of the actions companies must enable. It’s not enough to pay lip service to understanding customers’ emotions. Your company must enact policies and train teams to truly make them feel confident.
If these opportunities sound right for you, take my #MakeMomProud quiz to audit your company and determine your path to becoming a beloved company.