The Forrester Research Customer Experience Forum East is barely over, but the takeaways are pretty straightforward. The days of making the case for customer experience (CX) as a strategic competitive advantage are over. Now it’s making the case to the business to begin the long, complex and expensive road towards CX leadership. That’s the message I took away from this year’s Forrester CX Forum in New York. The time for theory has passed. It’s all about getting it done.
So how did the conference kick off? Was all about data, technology and algorithms? No, it was about emotion. According to Megan Burns, VP Principal Analyst, at Forrester, the primary driver of loyalty is emotion. We all want to be acknowledged. We want to be valued and we want to be treated as something special. These are the drivers of loyalty. These are positive outcomes of a great customer experience and these are the qualities customer experience professionals should be trying to produce for their organizations. And all three of these are tied directly to emotions.
But it wasn’t just Megan telling us this. Anjali Lai, another analyst showed us some telling statistics from the financial services industry. Customers were 9% more likely to buy additional products when they received helpful advice, 11% more likely if they felt the employees cared about their needs and 16% more likely if the employees were both helpful and flexible, in other words if they treated the customer as if they were unique and special.
The converse was true as well, customers were more likely to switch to another provider if they had a negative experience; 25% if they received unhelpful advice, 22% if the employees didn’t seem to care and 31% more likely to switch when the employees were both unhelpful and inflexible.
This theme played through many good keynotes from practioners like Mark McCormick from Wells Fargo, who shared ethnographic research in action via real life customer videos. Rasesh Patel, SVP Customer Experience for DirectTV, showed the facts and figures associated with a ongoing multi-year customer experience initiative including increases of 16 points on Net Promoter Score (NPS) for care and field service staff, 38% reduction in frontline attrition and $25 million dollars in cost avoidance through improved field service reliability.
Getting even more granular, Rick Parrish of Forrester laid out seven distinct steps in making customer journey mapping more effective. The clue was that only one of the seven steps included actually conducting journey mapping sessions. The real value was realized by planning things like understanding the right personas and calibrating what the business needed before the journey mapping exercises were conducted. And afterwards, there’s only value if the outcomes are put to use and shared widely across the entire organization. At Tahzoo we’ve been doing this with our clients for years, so it comes as no surprise that we are in full agreement with Rick. And that was all in the first day.
Day two moved in a different direction. In acknowledgement that the world is changing at an ever increasing pace and that disruption has become the norm and virtually a constant fact of business, the theme for day two was around innovation. Which is both the cause and the antidote for disruption.
Tony Costa, Senior Analyst with Forrester kicked things off with a history lesson about Harry Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges, the famous department store in London and the subject of a popular PBS/BBC costume drama. Harry Selfridge didn’t open a better store, he redefined the entire shopping experience. Prior to opening his London store, no merchandise was ever on display. One had to ask a store clerk to bring out what they thought they might like. If the clerk missed the mark, they had to start over.
Fast forward to Amazon and Netflix and you see the same sort of fundamental disruption and change in experience. Jump to today and look at Uber and Airbnb and you see the ever accelerating speed and power of that disruption. The message is clear, you can’t survive if you aren’t a leader and the only way to lead is to innovate.
So what’s the net net from the conference? To my ears, it was you had better get going and make sure you’re making the investments needed to improve customer experience, drive loyalty and keep from being disrupted right out of the market.
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