Four Trends Changing the Customer Experience Movement

Our Customer Experience capability is growing!  In the last two months the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has added about 300 members, with four new sites hosting local events.  Here in Minneapolis we hosted a great session to discuss Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Model, and how members are helping their companies move up the model.

As with any movement, this growth is leading to maturity and change.  Here are four trends I am seeing impact our practice today:

  • Customer Experience is moving beyond just NPS
  • Increasing recognition on the role of employee engagement
  • Customer Journey Mapping 2.0
  • Emerging Comprehension of Customers’ Non-Rational Thinking

Customer Measurement is Moving Beyond Just NPS

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is still the cornerstone of many customer experience programs.  What is changing is that companies are moving beyond the notion of using just one number, surrounding it with other factors, including satisfaction (yes, it’s still popular for many), loyalty, and the Customer Effort Score.

I am also seeing more composite scores.  Several participants at the Minneapolis CXPA event reported using an index comprised of multiple scores, and nobody was an NPS-only shop.  NPS remains the most popular score in the movement, but most companies are finding that it is not sufficient by itself.

Lastly, companies are starting to realize the importance of driver analysis.  Driver analysis shows which factors are most driving the NPS score.  Rather than simply working to improve all scores, drivers help you to focus effort on thos that will most improve loyalty.

Increasing Recognition of the Role of Employee Engagement

Historically, employee engagement was led by HR, and was managed separately from customer scores.  NPS/satisfaction and emploiyee engagement were rarely correlated, and while the link was acknowledged, they were not managed together.  Simply put, the HR and Research teams didn’t talk much, and any comparison was usually half-baked.  But that is changing.

Employee engagement makes or breaks a customer experience.  The rise of customer experience has led to an increasing interest in the role of employee engagement as a factor that leads to profitable organic growth.  While HR may still manage employee engagement, it is at least coordinated with customer management, and leading organizations co-manage these programs. This is a very healthy outcome of our movement.

Customer Journey Maps 2.0

The first customer journey maps had little in common with each other.  There’s still not total agreement as to what makes a great customer journey map, but consolidation is starting to happen.  For example, fewer journey maps are being generated based on internal perspectives.  As companies discover the limitations of their first maps they are looking for new ideas to help them to understand their existing customer journey

Ethnographic tools (particularly journaling) and customer behavior driver analysis are both tools that help improve the validity of your customer journey maps.

Emerging Comprehension of Customers’ Non-Rational Thinking

I haven’t found a pithier way to say this, but it’s becoming clear that rational items (such as functionality) get you in the door, but non-rational items keep your customers. This has been true for years – but the customer experience movement has made this much clearer.  Features and benefits still matter – but aren’t enough to keep customers from leaving you.

Consider banks.  Historically, banks focused on such rational items as interest rates.  Trust was taken for granted, and banks scored high on this factor.  But with the financial meltdown, suddenly trust matters – and customers don’t have it.  Bank leaders must be amazed – their trust levels have dropped until they are just above Congress.  Trust and simplicity are now critical to getting and keeping customers – a far cry from the focus on interest rates typical to this industry.

Speaking more broadly, a personal connection with your sales force or an elegant interface may play only a small role in getting an account.  Many initial shopping experiences focus on rational items that can be put into a matrix.  But features become almost irrelevant when customers are faced with poor customer experience, confusing interfaces, and other forms of complexity.

As the customer experience movement grows, we need to continue to focus on such “soft” items as trust, effort (or its counterpart, simplicity) and emotional engagement.  These are far more important than features, but much harder to manage.

How about you?  Are you seeing these same customer experience trends?  Or are there others you see driving the industry?  Please share your experiences in the comments section.

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