1. Your customer experience (CX) is arguably as important as your product

Is your customer’s experience more important — or valuable — than your product? Opening headliner Tracy Robertson, Global Enterprise Vice President, Digital, Stryker, and former Global Vice President, Kimberly-Clark, explored this thought-provoking question in her signature presentation, CX 1.0 to 3.0: New Journeys for New Customer Expectations.  Declaring that the customer experience (CX) was a very high-stakes topic, she briefly defined it as the customer’s perspective on all their interactions with an organization, both online and off. Noting that customer expectations are rising and that many customers will leave after just one bad experience, she stated that, today, the customer experience is as important as the product. She added that both needed to “bring it – the product and the experience must be excellent.” To support this statement, she shared the results of a recent survey: “4 out of 5 customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.” (Source: 4th Edition State of the Connected Customer Salesforce)

The well-known innovator and change agent also shared highlights of Kimberly-Clark’s Customer Journey revamp process, which included collecting voice of the customer, voice of the organization and voice of the data. Leveraging organizational assessments, rigorously defining the mission, strategy and timeline (five years) and hiring for critical skillsets – including outside of the industry – were key components of the ultimately successful undertaking. Tracy concluded her presentation by telling participants that it pays to be an experience driven business, as brands with a superior CX have been shown to bring in five times more revenue.

2. Capturing and leveraging data is essential to a winning customer strategy

Derrick Dickens, Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President, Customer Operations, PEPCO Holdings (PHI) An Exelon Company, shared a Case History – Unleash the Full Potential of CX Technologies. Derrick examined the role that analytics can play in understanding the customer journey and the benefits those insights can bring. Explaining how the company’s 2018 analysis had identified the “case for digital” and opportunities to improve customer satisfaction across journeys, he shared five Customer Strategy Outcomes identified by PEPCO and some of the digital technologies needed to support them. The desired outcomes were:

  1. A world class CX –  supported by creating  memorable moments through a personalized experience
  2. Affordability – achieved by partnering with customers to provide programs and pricing that helped them access affordable energy, for example
  3. Strong community value –  lift up communities and their economic development by promoting beneficial policies and legislation
  4. Innovation and value driven growth –drive investment growth, beneficial regulatory programs and innovative solutions
  5. Clean and environmentally sustainable communities – facilitate community access to clean energy, products, and services; support environmental and sustainability goals

Derrick identified specific strategic outcomes that were achieved. These included improving first contact resolution (FCR), reducing the customer effort needed to register for online accounts, and increasing self-service adoption, among others. In closing, Derrick reminded participants that being customer focused is an ongoing process that should be supported by ongoing data collection and analysis.

3. There is no one size fits all omni-channel CX – only the right combination of channels and touchpoints for each customer

Day one of the Executive MindXchange concluded with a Capstone – Managing Customer Expectations in a Post-COVID World, delivered by Jennifer Borchardt, Vice President, Omnichannel Experience and Strategy – Wealth Management, US Bank. Jennifer discussed the many ways that customer needs and expectations, which were rapidly changing before and during COVID, continue to change as the world changes – and faster than ever! Jennifer described how customer experience transformation has moved from digital-first, to mobile-first, to experience-first. She explained that, although mobile has become almost ubiquitous, customers ultimately seek a combination of digital applications and human assistance. This should culminate in an “experience-first” approach built on creating holistic relationships across channels and cohesive, powerful experiences. As she stated, there is no one size fits all omni-channel experience; all touchpoints must work together to serve customers in different, unique ways.

Jennifer noted that many companies developed innovative customer touchpoints during the pandemic that will now become part of their ongoing omni-channel experience. She cited telehealth functions like virtual visits and apps used by patients as a good example of technology innovation from an industry that was not previously or traditionally technology-centric. Other examples included the banking industry, which began offering video chats with virtual bankers for complex transactions during COVID, and new, smart chat options offered by United Airlines to customers who needed to cancel or reschedule flights during the pandemic; this function is still available to United’s customers.

4. 2021 is poised to become the year that will differentiate brands who adopt a TOTAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE mindset

Day two headliner Michelle Emerson-Russell, Executive Director, Workplace & Customer Experience, Verizon Business Group, opened her presentation, The Success Mantra: Enabling Brand Recognition Through Total Customer Experience, by stating that 2021 would be a pivotal year for implementing a total customer experience. Noting that adopting key technologies will continue to be an important part of creating a sustainable competitive advantage, Michelle shared a recent survey showing that, by 2022, more than two thirds of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies like chat bots, machine learning (ML) and mobile messaging.

Michelle also stated that Total Experience = Employee Experience + Customer Experience and underscored that employees affect the brand and the customer experience in significant ways. Enabling differentiated customer experiences with analytics, 5-G connectivity and adherence to data privacy and security guidelines are other tools needed to help ensure a successful, state-of-the-art customer experience.

5. All businesses must adapt at the speed of the market or customers. (And leadership must implement change with compassion for employees)

In his Capstone – Effective Change Management Across the CX Ecosystem presentation, Michael “Coop” Cooper, Founder, Innovators + Influencers, reminded participants that customer  needs and requirements are changing faster than ever before.  In fact, most of these evolving customer requirements are shifting faster than many in the C-Suite understand. Coop underscored the importance of organizational change as a means to keep up with evolving customer demands and shared common challenges organizations face when implementing change.

Beyond the natural human resistance to change and the complexities of driving organizational change internally, Coop emphasized that it is employees who must implement changes, and their success often depends upon ongoing managerial support and compassion. No doubt, this approach is frequently overlooked by leaders and front-line managers who are so often under pressure to accomplish corporate objectives or implement new ways of working in a very short time. Coop channeled his years of experience counseling and coaching business leaders to emphasize the important truth that compassion and employee support are key components of organizational change. Words of wisdom to heed as change and customer-experience driven business models become the order of the day for so many companies.

These are just a few of the many timely insights from this content-rich virtual event. You can find more customer contact industry articles and trending best practices here. Or, check out our next in-person customer contact event, Customer Contact West: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, taking place October 24-27th, 2021 at the Hyatt Huntington Beach California here.