Five ways to improve your customer and employee experience

Experience management (XM) will play a pivotal role in optimising value for customers and working smarter in 2021. Vicky Katsabaris outlines five ways that businesses can truly unlock the value of UX moving forward.

As we gaze hopefully towards 2021, it’s worth reflecting on how 2020 has transformed the blueprint for business success. Never before have quick actions to improve the experience for customers, employees and the wider market been so pivotal to maintaining a competitive edge.

Countless stories illustrate how brands that prioritised customer experience in light of the pandemic. Such as supermarkets dedicating specific hours for vulnerable customers or Netflix introducing a new way to watch movies together with friends even when you can’t be together.

As we look ahead, these same organisations are primed to deliver success in our ‘new normal’. For example, McKinsey research states changing customer needs and expectations will be the most likely trend to continue after the pandemic ends.

We agree. Yet the reality is most businesses will need to redesign how they listen to customers and employees as they head into 2021 so that they can more effectively measure, anticipate and enhance the experience.

Many of the listening programs used by businesses simply measure. But – as we’ve seen in 2020 – businesses need to be taking action. And specifically taking action on what matters, when it matters. This is where experience management (XM) has a critical role to play. XM builds on traditional listening programs to equip organisations with the insights and capabilities needed to take action with confidence and precision.

Volkswagen Group Australia is a leading example of a business unlocking the power of XM. Customer insights inspired the company to start developing an ecommerce strategy in 2019 – something that was quickly accelerated when Australia went into lockdown at the beginning of 2020. In less than 8 months, Volkswagen has sold 460 cars through the platform and over 550 customers have purchased a pre-paid service package. It has delivered a total sales value of $36 million.

To help you move forward in a world where customer needs and expectations may continue to change rapidly, we’ve outlined five ways to unlock the value of XM in your business:

1. Take quick and targeted action against high-value, high impact issues

A consistent finding throughout the pandemic is that demonstrating care for your customers and employees are two of the biggest drivers of brand trust at this time. This is why collecting feedback is not enough. Being able to quickly take personalised action is arguably the most important step your business must focus on in 2021.

Identifying the unique drivers of great experiences for customers and employees allows a brand to pinpoint which high-value, high-impact issues to address. Surfacing and taking action on these opportunities helps a brand to optimise the value delivered to its customers and employees and optimise investments – for both the business and customers. Further, being able to tailor experiences for high-value customers or segments allows the business to drive revenue towards the most profitable areas.

2. Listen through all channels at all times

In 2021 the rate of change will not decrease; if anything, it will accelerate. As a result, it’s crucial businesses regularly collect, analyse and respond to feedback from every channel people use to talk about your business – from direct email feedback to online reviews on social media – and include qualitative and quantitative responses. Scaling listening programs enables a business to develop a holistic view of the experience delivered.

Or, as McKinsey put it: “The next normal will be anything but static. The customer experience landscape is evolving with each passing week, so companies can’t ‘set it and forget it’ and still expect to stand out.”

Collecting a steady stream of experience data (X data) in these moments helps businesses close experience gaps at scale, and resolve – or optimise – issues before they arise.

3. Break free from basic data measurement

By transforming the way a business listens to customers, employees and the wider market, it will gain access to a plethora of valuable insights that can help teams to improve the products, services and programs you deliver for its customers.

But for this to become a reality, a modern XM platform needs to go beyond simply collecting data to offer intelligent automated actions. This ensures feedback is routed to the people that need to see it – whether product designer, marketers, engineers or the CEO – and can trigger workflows based on a pre-configured set of parameters. Additionally, it ensures feedback seamlessly integrates into the way people are already working. XM platforms should also leverage the power of AI to trigger workflows based on a pre-configured set of parameters, as well as filter out any fraudulent or ‘spam-like’ responses.

4. Get full control of your research programs for smarter insights

Having full control over your listening programs is vital to ensure you can operate at the speed customers and employees demand in 2021. Relying on third-party providers burns budget and can also mean waiting weeks for changes to be made and then gaining access to the insights.

We recommend businesses have a flexible approach whereby you can quickly and easily scale capabilities in-house to meet business needs.

5. Become the purpose-driven organisation you strive to be

The way a brand is perceived by the market is a reflection of its customer and employee experience. Using XM, businesses can connect their brand with the customer and employee experience they deliver by identifying and taking action on the areas having the biggest impact.

We recommend collecting, analysing and disaggregating experience data according to different employee demographics and customer segments to see what experience various groups are having and ensure appropriate action is taken to address any misalignment that exists to your company’s brand promise.

XM is the future of business

With the promise of a vaccine close on the horizon, some return to ‘normality’ beckons in 2021 and beyond. But businesses must not kid themselves: the impact of 2020 on customer and employee expectations will be permanent.

McKinsey states in its recent report, Elevating Customer Experience Excellence in the Next Normal: “Now is the time to make investments in the data, technology, and systems required to deliver exceptional experiences in a rapidly changing environment.”

Having systems of action that allow your business to rapidly respond to shifting customer and employee needs with precision and confidence has never been more fundamental to success.

Vicky Katsabaris is the director of experience management at Qualtrics.

Photo by Husna Miskandar on Unsplash.