POSTED : May 11, 2015
BY : Linda Corisdeo

The recent Customer Experience Professionals Association Insight Exchange in San Diego was a great forum of CX professionals sharing ideas and discussing trends that are shaping customer experience today. The continuing growth of the CXPA’s membership over the last 5 years speaks to the ever increasing importance of CX across all industries and markets. Despite the range of CX professionals and backgrounds, one common theme emerged: the effectiveness of customer experience and CX professionals solving real business problems.

Here’s some of the key takeaways:

Focus on the relationship

The event kicked off with a conversation focused on about how Customer Experience is ultimately about the human heart and relationships. “Because the human heart hasn’t changed” was the tag line. The value of empathy and listening in crafting a successful customer experience program is frequently glossed over as “the soft stuff” in the push to measure, monitor, and track bottom-line financial impacts. While adopting a ‘Golden Rule’ approach has long been held up as a measure of customer-centricity, I strongly believe the effectiveness of this is waning as customer expectations and participation rapidly evolve. Customer experience leaders need to shift to what I have heard called the ‘Platinum Rule’ – treat others the way THEY want to be treated. Companies wanting to create innovative and breakthrough experiences don’t have to look far for well-tested methods – Human Centered Design (e.g. IDEO) and Service Design (e.g. This is Service Design) for example – that can be leveraged to design innovative and effective strategies, products, and services.

Employee engagement

Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, gave a passionate keynote on how their employee culture delivers exceptional customer experiences. At the core, the message was pretty clear—the customer does not come first, employees do. Employees are the key to creating a customer experience and they need to be involved, accountable, and participating at every level for it to work. Employee culture is both a driver of and outcome of well designed and implemented customer experience strategy. CX leaders need to make sure that employee experience is part of the larger strategy as well as key operational competent of the CX program.

Strategy matters

Many CX leaders discussed how their companies have struggled to clearly articulate the link between business and customer experience strategy. CX leaders need to be able to clearly articulate the ‘why’ behind the customer experience strategy and connect to business, financial, and brand strategy goals. Being able to move the conversation beyond tactical and operational implementation with C-Level executives and stakeholders requires CX leaders to articulate the details behind the “what” and “how” that are driving their CX day-to-day efforts. Bottom-line—know why CX matters to your business, and know why CX matters to your customers.

Act as a translator

CX leaders need to be able to translate customer experience and design thinking methods into a language that fits the specific employee culture and business model. John Deere’s Global Manager of Customer Experience, Erin Wallace, shared a couple of really insightful comments in this area. First was that the CX team focused on “engaging hearts and informing minds” to drive action. She said that this approach allowed them to structure the data, insights, and narrative supporting the CX business case in a way that speaks to the needs of the executives or stakeholders in question. How often do the CFO, CIO, and CMO need the same proof points? John Deere also focuses on defining success for the customer experience by setting the quality bar at what delivers “Promoter Level Experiences.” Their customer feedback is transformed into the measures of success. It is worth noting too that John Deere’s customer experience strategy is guided by their goal to create customers for generations – CLV is taken to a new level.

Think different for B2B & B2C CX programs

There was a lot of heated discussion on ideas and approaches for B2B and B2C firms. Customer experience teams need a clearly defined path to translate insights into action. First, start with something that is not always obvious to executives—a survey is not a “Voice of the Customer” Program. Customer experience programs within B2B businesses have complexities that require intentional and thoughtful design. Unlike in consumer markets where a targeted sample of customer feedback can be trustworthy, B2B programs often require a census approach to gather accurate feedback. The imperative of “voice by value” takes on a heightened role to understanding who to listen to, where to listen, and how to link feedback to CX program outcomes.

Looking forward for Customer Experience

Bruce Temkin led a couple of sessions on both the current state and future opportunity for customer experience across industries. Temkin noted that while CX programs may be improving in their ability to deliver, the bar for what customers expect continues to rise even faster. In the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, 7% of companies earned excellent CX ratings, while 25% earned poor or very poor ratings. He also noted that CX programs also tend to focus their efforts on only 1 of the 3 key dimensions of customer experience (defined by Temkin as “success, effort, and emotion”). The net of these gaps are that most companies are mediocre in the customer experience they provide. Companies have a real opportunity to leverage customer experience as a differentiator, but it requires an accelerated process to identify and act on shifting customer expectations and for all elements of the customer experience – success, effort, and emotion.

Want to know how a Customer Experience program can become truly transformative in your company? PK’s Customer Experience team can help.

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