Effective Customer Experience Strategies
Learn how organizations create effective customer experience strategies (CX) from proper CX research. Watch our webinar to hear what leading companies are doing to leverage and promote CX initiatives throughout their organizations. We share 5 best practices that leading CX players are using to ensure their programs are successful over the long term.
As Director of Industry Insights, Carolyn is responsible for analyzing aggregate data to understand best practices and root cause issues surrounding Win Loss and Customer Experience programs. Utilizing primary source research and secondary information, Carolyn produces syndicated and custom client reports that help to illustrate best practices and benchmarking metrics. Prior to her current role, Carolyn served as a Program Consultant at Primary Intelligence since 2013, with direct responsibility for customers’ Win Loss and Customer Experience programs. Read full bio
Connie is the Digital Marketing Specialist for Primary Intelligence. She has over 20 years of experience in contracting, acquisitions, and communication. Connie studied global perspectives and leadership as an undergraduate at the Pennsylvania State University. She is an accomplished navigator of government and nonprofit business environments as well as a proven professional with the ability to create reputable relationships with stakeholders, employees, the media, and public.
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Primary Intelligence shared effective strategies for managing successful customer experience programs based on its State of Customer Experience 2015 report.
State of Customer Experience Research Background
The primary goals in conducting State of Customer Experience research were to:
- Understand how organizations perform Customer Experience (CX) Analysis and use CX data
- Understand impact of CX programs on company results
Primary Intelligence was curious about the impact of CX programs on operations, so it constructed a 60-question survey that asked about:
- Responsibility for collecting CX data
- Responsibility for analyzing CX data
- Annual program investment
- Length of CX programs
- Stakeholder support
- CRM/SFA tools used in support of CX Analysis
Primary Intelligence also wanted to understand the impact of Win Loss Analysis on more strategic areas of corporate performance, including:
- Program Success Rates: This measures the relative success of CX programs, including metrics such as the ability to retain customers, growth of customer accounts, improving understanding of customers, providing actionable customer insights, improving marketing efforts, and improving product capabilities based on customer feedback.
- CX IQ: Customer Experience IQ measures how well companies understand their customers, including what customers want and what’s important to them, what products and services customers buy, knowing and understanding the top challenges faced by customers, knowing the most important priorities and strategic goals of customers, and knowing the business needs or problems customers are trying to solve.
- Company Performance: Company Performance measures how much company performance has improved since last year in the areas of: Revenue growth, Profitability, Employee Attrition, Customer Support effectiveness, Customer retention, Marketing effectiveness, and Product competitiveness.
State of Customer Experience Research Methodology
Primary Intelligence received feedback from 54 respondents from an outreach to approximately 1,000 individuals during June through October 2015. The respondents were given a 60-question online survey. Of the 54 survey respondents, in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 43 percent of respondents. Survey respondents were typically in charge of or involved with their organization’s CX efforts. Roles included employees, managers, directors, and executives from Customer Support, Voice of the Customer Department, Sales Support/Enablement, and Marketing, among others. Most respondents were working in North American organizations at the time of survey completion, although respondents were also represented from other regions, including Europe and Africa.
Key Findings for Customer Experience Strategies
Finding #1 Customer Experience Benefits Center on Understanding Customer Needs
The first finding relates to the benefits experienced. This includes benefits that are expected and unexpected as well as immediate and extended benefits from CX programs.
Overall, when Primary Intelligence looked at benefits organizations are getting from their CX programs, it found that gaining an improved understanding of customer needs is the most significant benefit organizations are receiving from their Customer Experience programs, with 86 percent of respondents highlighting this benefit, as shown in this graph.
This is not surprising, given the nature and aim of most organizations to develop a deeper and broader understanding of their customers, including product and service preferences, support issues, training barriers, user experience, and price point appropriateness.
It’s also interesting to highlight other industry research Primary Intelligence recently completed that spotlighted the importance of “Understanding Buyer Needs” in competitive sales opportunities. In this research—encompassing an analysis of feedback from over 10,000 B2B buyers since 2008—Primary Intelligence found that the ability to understand buyer needs was the most important factor buyers used to judge sales performance when considering vendors in competitive sales opportunities.
Understanding buyer needs bested eight other sales-related categories, including “responsiveness” and “product knowledge,” by a wide margin when buyers were asked to select which category was most important to them in judging their sales teams.
In this way, Primary Intelligence noted that understanding the needs of customers and buyers is a universal desire, not only from prospects but from current customers as well. Sales teams and account managers who take the time to understand the needs of their audiences—whether they’re prospects or current customers—will reap the rewards of new and renewing contracts, along with a greater likelihood of future business and a higher propensity to recommend them to friends and colleagues as well.
Finding #2 Access to Customer Experience Information
At Primary Intelligence, broad access to Customer Experience information is viewed as a best practice since this gives employees, managers, and executives deeper insights into customer perceptions of the organization. Widespread access also allows individuals at every level to construct possible remedies to address customer concerns and gives impetus and support for new initiatives.
As reflected in the graph above, the groups with greatest access to Customer Experience information are Executive management (81 percent), Sales management and leadership (79 percent), and Marketing (74 percent). Interestingly, less than half (49 percent) of organizations provide access to Customer Experience information to their Sales support and enablement teams. “Other” groups with access to Customer Experience data include Support, Human Resources, Legal, Quality, Engineering, and Operations.
Even if the desire exists to share CX data, however, putting a mechanism in place to ensure customer feedback is available throughout the organization can be challenging. In fact, it’s a stumbling block that many firms encounter, especially when they’re large and geographically dispersed.
Finding #3 CX Data Sentiment
It’s important to use every opportunity to capture customer feedback, including advisory boards, user groups, online surveys, onsite visits, telephone interviews, social media, trade shows, and industry conferences.
While account team feedback is vital in terms of understanding internal perspectives of customer health, hearing the feedback directly from customers and in a wide range of forums helps to ensure the feedback is multi-dimensional and not skewed to a particular segment or customer type. This is especially important for firms that have a small handful of large customers that may not be representative of their entire installed base.
The question remains whether or not CX leaders and stakeholders believe they have enough customer experience data, whether they need more data, or if they feel they have too much.
When asked their opinions about Customer Experience data sentiment, respondents were fairly evenly split between indicating they had enough Customer Experience data and expressing a need for more CX data. However, no respondents believed that they have too much Customer Experience information.
CX Data Sentiment: Segmented
When additional analysis is done relating to Customer Experience data sentiment, the findings reveal that most respondents who have CX programs in place today believe they are getting adequate Customer Experience information, while 70 percent of respondents without CX programs believe they need more data.
Clearly, organizations without CX programs in place are feeling the void, with respondents highlighting the need for more customer data. While organizations with a total or near monopoly in their markets may be able to succeed without customer feedback for some time, eventually they will be forced to hear the voices of their customers.
It is well understood in B2C markets that customer feedback is critical. In B2B industries, this realization is also accepted but the urgency is not always present due to the fact that B2B buyers generally have fewer choices than B2C buyers. And in some cases, buyers may be forced to choose between mediocre and poor, rather than good and great.
Still, B2B vendors are learning that positive customer experiences help drive customer satisfaction, build loyalty and referrals among buyers, and lead to stronger revenue and profitability outcomes over time.
Notably, 20 percent of respondents without CX programs in place have no access to any Customer Experience data, while just two percent of respondents with CX programs in place lack access to any Customer Experience information, further highlighting the gap between these two groups.
Finding #4 Customer Retention Rate Improvements
Research revealed the perception among many in the industry is that CX is hard. And one measure of how “hard” CX is, is how far can companies move the needle on customer retention rate improvements.
Looking at the above chart, over half—or 53 percent—of respondents were “Unsure” when asked to rate how much their customer retention rate has improved over the past year due to their organization’s CX program. The remainder of responses were fairly evenly split between a 1 – 5 percent improvement and an 11 – 20 percent improvement.
Noteworthy is the fact that no organization believed their retention rates had improved more than 20 percent in the past 12 months, indicating areas of significant potential for improvement in companies’ Customer Experience journeys.
Conclusions & Recommendations
- Get support from senior executives
- Engage employees
- Institute closed feedback loops
- Create repeatable processes for fast follow up
- Consider debriefing/discovery sessions
- Implement customer journey mapping
- Take incremental steps
- Don’t get “hung up” on numbers