Customer experience is everything. And by everything, we mean that CX is every single feeling a customer has when engaging with your company throughout all aspects of the customer journey. Great customer service, a great core product, sleek web design and a data-rich, connected sales process are all parts of great CX. But none of them are CX on their own.
Customers understand this concept intuitively. But helping your internal teams understand the truly holistic nature of CX is crucial, and often a trickier task to tackle than expected. In this article, we’ll explore how to talk to your team meaningfully about improving your CX — and how the right conversations can bring about lasting business change.
What customer experience leaders get right
To understand how an organisation’s adoption of customer service and support of best practices improves its ability to deliver superior customer experience (CX), Zendesk has partnered with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a leading research firm, for our second CX maturity study.
ESG surveyed 3,250 customer service decision makers in the study, exploring how improved CX capabilities are correlated with dramatically better business outcomes, giving organisations the insights they need to up their game.
The good news: Organisations have significantly improved their CX maturity in the past year. The proportion of Champions among mid-size and enterprise organisations in the UK & Europe has increased by 60 per cent year-over-year. Still, 41 per cent of companies in the region can be seen as Starters.
A key takeaway from the study: All customer service champion organisations share a common set of commitments. Specifically, they excel across three major areas:
- Customer experience. CX Champions deliver superior experiences for customers. They understand how every touchpoint adds value, without becoming overly focused on a single area and losing sight of the larger picture. As an example, 73 per cent of organisations anticipate chat and social channels will be heavily used by customers in the future, up from 52 per cent today. CX Champions are prepared for such a scenario: They respond to customers faster, resolve problems in less time, and require less customer effort.
- Agent experience. Champions put their agents in the best position for success. They are acutely aware that customers interact with a brand numerous times, through many channels (phone, email, chat, etc.). That makes gaining 360-degree visibility over customers critical to delivering exceptional customer support.
- Business operations. Champions understand that CX is a key business differentiator. They were 2 times as likely as Starters to have accelerated major CX projects. They review CX metrics and key performance indicators daily, analyse their performance continuously and evaluate the areas where they could improve, or have fallen behind. From there, they make targeted investments, both financially and in terms of time spent. These investments span three key areas: 1) People (staffing and training), 2) Process (learnings to evolve business processes) and 3) Data and technology (real-time visibility and tools).
If you think you could do better in at least one of the above CX domains, you may be part of the over 40 per cent of customer service leaders surveyed by ESG who described themselves as possibly falling behind in CX maturity. But bringing change to your organisation needn’t be difficult. In fact, with a few key steps, you can gear up and get your team fully on board to realise a better way forward.
Making CX discussion meaningful for lasting change
Customer experience is not a passing trend. And yet many organisations treat it that way.
To make a meaningful — and lasting — impact you need to lay out the stakes. CX is not just a cake topper for a successful business. In fact, stagnating CX can put your entire business at risk.
Here’s our guidance on how to talk to your teams about improving your CX meaningfully and lastingly — and what you need to do ahead of time to prepare.
Step 1: Understand the risk of not improving your CX (so you can lay out the stakes)
To bring across the risk of stagnating CX, you need to understand it yourself. For starters, find some examples of businesses within your industry (or outside of it) whose CX let them down. These organisations may still be in business, but have a lower market share than they did in their heyday (i.e. before they got outcompeted). They may be losing money or not be in business at all. It’s helpful to focus on businesses that were once highly regarded or successful in a particular domain. Perhaps they had outstanding Intellectual Property (IP)? Perhaps they created a winning product? And yet something still let them down.
By understanding what these businesses did right and then wrong (failing CX) you’ll not only get to grips with the stakes yourself, but you’ll be able to meaningfully illustrate to staff just how crucial great CX is for a business to continue to flourish. Everything else can be working, but in today’s market, if CX fails, a business can be doomed. Understand why and how this happens. Then get ready to bring your message to your team.
Step 2: Benchmark how your business is performing, right now
Do you know how good your current CX actually is? Do you have a sense of your areas of strength and weakness? For many business leaders, these areas are a little murkier than they should be. Some think customers are happy overall, but can’t explain the details of why. Others know they could be doing better, but convince themselves that they’re doing “okay” or “enough” to get by.
Before you engage with your team, you need to get to grips with where your organisation stands right now. That means developing a good understanding of CX focus areas and outcomes. Create charts, tables or graphics to help you understand your business performance more clearly. You can even involve your business teams in helping you gather the necessary information.
Need help with where to start? The ESG report can help you evaluate how you are meeting customer expectations, setting your agents for success, and taking control of your operations. Here are some topics to think about:
Are you delivering excellent service?
- 94 per cent of CX champions are focused on moving away from transactional interactions and towards relationship-building conversational experiences. Where does your organisation stand? How do you regard your customers? How do your agents regard your customers? How do they approach conversations?
- Are you meeting your customers where they want to be met? Chat and social channels will be heavily used by customers in the future. Do you have the tools in place to be able to effectively interact with your customers in the way they want — both today and in the likely future?
Are your agents empowered?
- CX champions give agents the tools they need to succeed. 72 per cent of champion companies are able to stitch together brand interactions across silos to best position agents to deliver exceptional support. Do your agents have access to all the information they need? Or are their efforts often stymied by siloed information or poor tools?
- Remote work is here to stay. On average, organisations expect a 26 per cent increase in the number of remote agents after the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer an issue. Do you have the right tools to support your agents now and in future, wherever they may work from? Are agents working from home at any kind of technological disadvantage?
Are your business operations effectively measured?
- Business leaders at champion organisations are 8 times more likely to review CX metrics and key performance indicators daily. They stay actively on top of their performance because they understand that even a day’s slippage can have knock-on effects across reputation and long-standing customer relationships. Importantly, they have instant access to insights they need, because they have the right tools.
Are you seeing concrete signs of business growth, or stagnation?
- CX Champions are 2.9 times more likely than companies with immature CX to report having grown their customer base in the last 6 months. Champions are also 5.5 times likelier to report their per-customer spend has increased significantly in the past 6 months. Where does your business stand, right now? Are your customers growing in number? Or are you losing them to competitors? Why do you think this is happening?
Step 3: Get ready to open up and begin the conversation
With the prep work done, it’s time to set up the first meeting. Call all your stakeholders together and begin by laying out the stakes clearly. Next, discuss where your business is right now. Be frank about areas of strength and areas of improvement. Finally, open up the discussion. Make the meeting a safe space to have an honest conversation about goals, obstacles, and priorities.
In the meeting, it is crucial to involve your teams and hear their opinions. What are the problems they see? What do they need to do their jobs better? How could they be more connected? More empowered? Ask what you can do to help them realise their goals. Next, set a time for a follow-up meeting so that you can discuss progress. Set time for another.
Embedding the importance of CX in your organisation requires ongoing effort. But with the right tools and approach, discussions can pivot from what’s not going so well, to what’s going wonderfully. Within just a few weeks, you can make meaningful strides to a more empowered, CX-focused organisation that works better not only for your customers, but for your internal teams too.
Find out how CX Champions are outperforming their counterparts
A lot goes into delivering a great customer experience (CX), but it can be hard to know where to make the most strategic investments. To help businesses make good, data-driven decisions, Zendesk partnered with ESG Research to build a framework around CX maturity and CX success.