How to leverage CX’s competitive advantage

Companies need to walk the walk after all the CX talk, writes Alex Allwood.

In today’s experience economy there are two kinds of marketers: the majority who pay lip service to the concept of customer experience (CX) and the 33% who consider themselves mature CX leaders.

Econsultancy’s new report on CX maturity in Australia and New Zealand reveals the CX competitive gap – a weakness in this market that has not been clearly identified before.

This report on CX maturity shows that 77% of Australian and New Zealand brands rate themselves as ‘not advanced’ or ‘immature’ in their CX initiatives. Additionally, 50% of survey respondents said that “their analysis of the customer journey was at most an ‘elementary level’ with ‘a lot of missing parts.’”

Further, the report indicated that these companies weren’t able to “piece together the customer journey and as a result, are not sure why their customers choose their product or service over another.”

Related: Allwood on brand promises and the CX gap »

Today, the customer purchase journey is complex, and bridges both the physical and the digital, with almost limitless channels for online search, research and purchasing, coupled with multiple points of brand interaction leading to the post-purchase relationship.

Irrespective of the type of experience a brand delivers, the goal of CX is the retention of existing customers and acquisition of new customers. When brands provide emotionally rewarding experiences, these create memorable moments that customers want to continue to experience and recommend to their family and friends.

Customer journey mapping is the process of understanding the purchase journey from the customer’s perspective, representing customer interactions as the customer experiences them; what they are doing, thinking and feeling when they are interacting with the brand.

The purpose behind the mapping initiative dictates whose journey is mapped; which target segments, potential customers, high value customer segments or for B2B customer acquisition the different roles in the buyer journey and how each are involved in purchasing and usage.

Developing customer or buyer segment personas helps brands understand their customer needs, expectations and behaviours; and provides insights into attitude and behavioural patterns in purchasing, technology, brand usage and lifestyle. Essentially, personas help understand customer’s emotions; why they feel the way they do.

The customer journey map is a framework utilised by a company’s customer leadership team to unite siloed divisions from across the business – driving customer conversations internally, encouraging collaboration on customer programs and fuelling action that is based on the customer needs.

Critical to success, is internal stakeholder collaboration from across the organisation. Cross-functional involvement in the mapping process delivers ‘buy-in’ and collective understanding of the purchase journey, and leads to deeper customer empathy.

Importantly, mapping serves as a framework to connect the operations of the business to each stage of the path-to- purchase; driving accountability and a single focus on resources and investment for touchpoint optimisation and experience design.

For mature CX brands that execute the fundamentals extremely well, minimising their customer’s frustration and annoyances, the next stage is creating great experiences that deliver ‘wow’ or surprise and delight moments that further differentiate their experience.

Whilst a ‘current state’ journey map documents customer painpoints and moments of truth in the purchase journey, ‘future state’ journey mapping is used to innovate for a yet to be defined experience for a new product or service.

While future state mapping uses current state mapping as an input, the attention is focused on innovating for a new experience, not improving an existing interaction. The key difference in future-state mapping is an ideation phase.

To be successful at the ideation phase, technology and research company Forester recommends CX leaders use a systematic approach by employing multiple rounds of ideation, prototyping and evaluation to uncover new sources of customer value.

For brands that reach CX maturity, the benefits of their CX programs are realised; reaping the rewards of sustainable business growth through higher revenues and decreased costs; higher customer retention, increased recommendation, and lower marketing and operational costs.

In a final statement, the Econsultancy report looks at the future of CX in the region and optimistically indicates that over the next five years, 63% of brands will differentiate on CX initiatives.

However, with the rapid shift in customer purchasing behaviour brought about by our digital-first world: the speed of innovation, disruptive digital technologies, and the changing face of the customer – brands here will need to commit to expediting their CX programs and ‘walking the CX talk’ sooner, rather than later.

 

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Alex Allwood
BY Alex Allwood ON 23 May 2016
Alex Allwood is CEO of the Holla Agency.