When was the last time you took a walk in your customer’s shoes and experienced your brand from their perspective? Having a clear understanding of their priorities and how those priorities connect to your bottom line is extremely important.

The reality is, our knowledge of the customer experience, customer expectations, and our ability to deliver against their needs, is in constant flux. If we get complacent we may find that our focus, metrics, and the systems we use to manage performance, lose their ability to create real positive change. If it has been more than 2 years since your last deep-dive into the customer journey and the associated measurement and support systems, it is time for fresh perspective.

Are you asking the right questions? Do you have the right processes in place to listen and respond if customers have issues? Are you timely in addressing customer concerns? Are you listening across all of the relevant online, social, and conventional channels? Are you aggregating and disseminating information in effective ways? Do you have a clear picture of reality in terms of your ability to execute against your standards and training? Is it clear to all what the true priorities are?

These are just some of the important questions to consider. That said, even if you recognize the importance of the customer experience, it can be easy to get lost in the daily grind and lose sight of important details. If any of the following conditions exist, now is the time for a second opinion regarding the efficacy of your customer experience practices. To make the review process easier, we’d like to share a list of telltale signs that it is time to revisit your customer strategy.

  1. Low engagement in customer experience programs with customers and/or employees and managers;
  2. Low executive engagement or visibility into customer experience program metrics;
  3. Flat or declining customer experience scores;
  4. A high degree of variability in performance across your brand;
  5. A lack of certainty in the connection between scores and a desired business outcome;
  6. Dated program design, branding and PR strategies;
  7. Reliance on a limited number of channels to engage customers;
  8. High or improving scores, with inverse financial outcomes.

If effectively designed, your customer experience program can be a highly scientific tool to manage your business, placing the wants and needs of your customers at the forefront of decision-making. By deploying best practices in combination you will elevate your chance of success, and ensure you maximize the financial return on your investment of time and energy in creating great customer experiences. 

Contact our experts today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation that will help you determine whether it’s time to revisit your customer experience strategy.

 

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Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.

 

On June 21 and 22, Market Force participated in the Forrester Customer Experience (CX) conference in New York City. A report by Markets and Markets estimates that this space is due to grow to $8 billion by 2020, and certainly the level of commitment and investment by presenters validates that trajectory. I found the conference very valuable and walked away with a few key points that I’ll share with you. All of these points are framed by a keen focus by the world’s largest companies in creating cultures focused on exceptional customer experiences. 

  1. The customer is becoming increasingly powerful. George Colony, CEO of Forrester, put corporations on notice by claiming that we are now in an “existential crisis” with the increasing power of customers to voice their opinions and demand increasing levels of service. He believes that customers will increasingly judge corporation based on the state of their business technology and that software investments will be critical to success.
  2. Effortless customer experience requires vision. Vicky Jones at AT&T simply thrilled the audience with the bold and sweeping vision AT&T has for integrating large acquisitions like DirecTV with current mobility platforms to create an “effortless customer experience”. That focus is backed by AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson. His commitment? Over $1 billion in budget to make that happen. Vicky reiterated that this is a “long game” with sustained investment and grit to make it happen.
  3. Design with simplicity as the core principle. Echoing the message from Vicky Jones, Mark McCormick, Head of User Experience at Wells Fargo, spoke to the power of simplicity in the design of products and experiences. “Simplicity is hard. Simplicity is noble”. He made an argument that products and experience that are complex or difficult to use “rob us of time time and confidence”.
  4. Map the customer journey to align the corporation. A presentation by Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, Forrester analyst, compelled me to think again about the importance of customer journey mapping. This powerful tool makes it clear where every function and every employee plays a role in creating an effortless, simple customer experience. A good journey map will help create channel parity, simplify offers and pricing, and streamline platforms across multiple channels.
  5. Ask creative questions of your CX data to show ROI. Mike Dzura, EVP of GNC, presented a case study based on his experience as SVP of Operations at GameStop. He showed how analysis of CX data could predict top performing managers, clarifying where GameStop should make its talent investments and the strategy for growing game sales.

In summary, the conference emphasized the increasing importance of the Customer Experience, with companies like Ford, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Marriott, SiriusXM, American Express and Etsy emphasizing their own investments in time, money, and people...lessons for all of us. To understand more about Market Force’s solutions for prioritizing investments, see our strategic advisory workshops.

As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

Have you been measuring the same things in your customer experience surveys for the past three years? Has your mystery shopping program been in place with little change? Has it been 6 months or more since your team met to clearly assess your measurement program—including spend and ROI? If so, it’s time to step back and do a clear-eyed evaluation.

Too often, measurement systems are left running untouched for months or years. That’s a mistake. The market is dynamic, customer expectations change, and your own products and services change as well. Granted, there is a cost to making changes:

  • You do want a stable measurement system to track and trend results;
  • If compensation is tied to results, changes may need to roll out slowly;
  • There’s work involved—and that includes aligning stakeholders.

However, the benefits of carefully evaluating and fine-tuning your program far outweigh the challenges. You will want to:

  • Find the gaps. What methodologies need to be added to assess brand and store level performance? What focus areas or questionnaires need changed?
  • Align the questions. Remember to construct a questionnaire matrix to ensure that you use the same wording and scales across your measurement instruments.
  • Evaluate communication. Go out to franchisees, the front line, managers—all users of the data—and ask whether they are getting what they need to better manage their business. If they aren’t, you’ll need to rethink that strategy.
  • Raise the bar. Demand more of your teams. We have one client who raises standards every year in order to remain best-in-class. The bar he’s set in demanding exceptional customer experience has become a real challenge to competitors.

Market Force provides CX Strategic Planning workshops to assist with this process. We’d be glad to discuss how we might help you. In the meantime, check out a video published by The Telegraph interviewing Cheryl Flink, Chief Strategy Officer for Market Force. You’ll find some great tips for designing your customer experience management program. 

Gino Virgadamo is a Key Account Manager at Market Force Information, specialising in the pub, restaurant and petrol-convenience industries. Over the past 4 years, he has helped businesses understand key drivers & trends, as well as provide strategic planning to drive ROI and stay ahead of the market. 

The World Bank projects a 3.3% growth in GDP for 2016. But the projection for high income countries is lower, with the US at 2.8% and Europe at 1.8%. When the economy softens, businesses typically respond in two ways:

  1. By cutting costs
  2. By seizing the opportunity to gain competitive market share.

The one thing businesses must not do is short-change their focus on customers. 

A 2015 study by Forrester Research shows that companies that deliver excellent customer experience have a high correlation with likelihood to recommend and consider the company for another purchase. They also have a much lower likelihood of switching—key when competitors lower their prices or introduce new offers to lure customers away. What’s really interesting in Forrester’s research is that many companies are putting a renewed focus on customer experience with various indices and ratings skewing higher. Most importantly, Forrester cites research demonstrating the strong relationship between share holder value and actual revenue. 

    Market Force’s research confirms that emphasizing the customer experience impacts loyalty and revenue. Across dozens of statistical models we have built for clients in the restaurant, retail, grocery, wireless, and petro-convenience spaces, we’ve found that high satisfaction rates result in 2x to 12x higher recommendation ratings. In addition, we’ve found that a focus on operational excellence and customer experience has a positive and significant impact on revenue results like YoY same store sales (restaurant), conversion rates (retail), household spend (grocery) and volume of fuel sold (petro-convenience). 

    The strong relationship between CX and financials makes a compelling argument for continuing your investment in customer experience. Continue measuring so you understand how every function and every location delivers to customers. Increase the visibility of those measures, and make sure every employee understands his or her impact on the customer experience and is committed to excellence. Demand action with commitment from managers to addressing issues and improving scores. Model the relationship between CX and financials to show ROI and build the business case for keeping your program intact. Your investment will help your business thrive in a slowing economy. 

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    To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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