This post builds on my recent articles “Global Macro Trends Impacting the World of Insights and CX” and "The Top Trends in Insights and Research in 2022" by drilling down into what is happening in the world of insights and CX.
The Participant Crisis
Globally, and across all fields, the number of people willing to take part in surveys has fallen and has moved from being a nuisance to being a crisis. Key features of the crisis from a CX point of view are 1) the problem of not being able to reach a wide range of customers and 2) the problem of not getting sufficient responses to be able to benchmark individual teams, offices, stores, departments etc.
The two drivers of this problem are 1) too many organizations asking people to do surveys too often, 2) surveys which are too long, badly-written and poorly-targeted.
The key remedies for organizations seeking to maximize the reach of their CX programs are:
1. Improving the surveys, e.g. shorter, more engaging, discursive and people-centric.
2. Improving the targeting process, including better invitations, avoiding asking surveys too often, building on what is already known.
3. Showing people that their feedback is being listened to and is being acted on.
Not all Customers are Right
There has been a growing awareness that a small percentage of customers are simply cranky people, people who can be irrational and unpleasant. These people can create an unpleasant experience for other customers and can contribute to employee dissatisfaction and churn. Modern CX approaches seek to balance CX (the customer experience) with EX (the employee experience), especially in the light of the ‘great resignation’ and the tight labor market.
Traditional CX programs focused on auditing compliance against service levels determined by the organization. The two functions of these CX systems tended to be, 1) solving problems highlighted by survey responses, and 2) checking that KPI scores are being monitored.
The new trend for CX is to focus on outcomes, specifically on actions rather than measurements. This shift sees the CX program as a primary input into strategic thinking, influencing the direction of travel. Tactical CX often reports to the operations team, action-focused CX reports to a wider range of teams, including the C-suite.
Chief Experience Officers
The fastest growing senior role is the Chief Experience Officer (CXO), somebody who is responsible for CX and EX (employee experience) and drives the business towards HX (a holistic human experience approach). The rise of the CXO recognizes the shift from the product to the customer, from what is provided to what is experienced.
Transactional or Relational and Thematic
Most brands and organizations need to focus on either Transactional or Relational CX approaches. Transactional approaches are relevant where the customer tends to have a one-off interaction, such as the purchase of a car, a visit to a holiday resort, or a meal at a restaurant rarely visited. Relational approaches are relevant where a service is used frequently, for example, your mobile phone service provider, your regular grocery store, or your regular sandwich bar. Both transactional and relational approaches focus on fixing problems for those people who report problems.
Thematic approaches move the focus from the individuals surveyed toward the wider customer base. Thematic approaches shift the actions from responding to problems to avoiding problems from happening – for example via business process re-engineering.
The shifts from measuring to action and from tactical to strategic have accelerated the process of integrating CX programs with other sources of insights. This change is facilitated by the breaking down of silos, by the increase in available data streams, and the growth in tools that allow data to be integrated. When CX is used to drive change in the business, the insights need to be spread more widely, and in formats that make the information more useful.
The ROI of CX Programs
All programs need to prove their value for money, and this is just as true for CX programs. Too many CX programs have attempted to show their worth in terms of metrics such as Net Satisfaction or NPS. However, this sort of thinking is circular, since these measures are internal to the CX program and are themselves not good surrogates for the return we are seeking. ROI programs need to be evaluated in terms of features such as revenue, lifetime value, churn, and interactions (eg. downloads, play, visits etc.)
The world is dividing itself into CX programs that are stuck in the past, auditing performance against internally set targets, and those that use their results to change the organization.
If you are stuck in the past, key starting points include:
1. Focus on the experience, not the product/service
2. Integrate CX with other insight systems
3. Look for themes and opportunities for change, rather than simply measuring KPIs