Why your CX Program isn’t “Winning”

Two weeks ago, I posted “Is Customer Experience a Missed Opportunity?” and shared CCW’s 2018 Market Survey. The report discussed the fact that many customer experience (CX) programs are failing to drive change. There were multiple takeaways; only 9% of programs said their primary use of journey maps was “to ‘orchestrate’ predictive and/or proactive engagement,” whereas 31% primarily used them “to fix ‘pain points’ in the experience.” This was one of many reasons CX hasn’t been having a strong impact in many organizations.

A recently released report from CustomerThink CEO Bob Thompson, “Customer Experience at a Crossroads: What Drives CX Success?” takes this further by showing the differences between “Winning” CX programs and programs that are Beginning and Developing. It includes lessons for any CX program. The white paper isn’t free, but it’s worth the investment (no, I don’t get any commission; I was interviewed for the white paper, but that’s it).

The definition of a Winning program is one that is “able to quantify CX benefits or achieve a competitive edge,” and the survey showed that just 25% of programs qualify. You may not agree with this definition of Winning, but I’ll bet your CEO does.

The most important finding is that less mature programs focus on making their customer experience easier by reducing pain points. Winning programs “design experiences to create an emotional response.”

Bob is right on. CX is composed of three factors – Effectiveness, Ease, and Emotion – and research from Forrester, Temkin Group and others agree that Emotion is the most predictive of customer loyalty. Unfortunately, too many CX leaders focus on quick wins. Quick wins help show progress, but unless you’re simultaneously focused on strategically redesigning your experience, this sense of progress won’t help. Showing progress doesn’t help if you’re not going anywhere.

There’s way more detail in the 35-page report than I can include in a blog post, but one critical area is that Winning programs are more likely to take an outside-in perspective to understand and act on customer feedback. This extends to our area of focus, journey mapping. It’s important to map your customers’ journeys, but the report says “simply creating a map was not found to be a success driver. What appears to matter is consistency across the journey stages and thoroughness of implementing journey mapping practices.”

Some big differences between Winning and Developing programs include that Winning programs are more likely to:

  • Develop personas for each customer segment
  • Involve customers in the creation of maps (one of our journey mapping best practices)
  • Clearly defined customers’ end goals or desired outcomes

This reflects the findings of our own survey, which showed that 65% of journey maps fail to drive change. Just creating maps is insufficient. What’s important is to use them to redesign your experience.

One other difference really caught my eye. Winning programs were more likely to use their journey maps to create an end-to-end future state journey map. This one question had the biggest separation between Winning and Developing programs – 3.5 versus 2.3. In fact, this was tied as the lowest score for Developing programs, along with involving customers in the creation of maps.

The best CX programs don’t just fix problems; they redevelop the experience to create an emotional connection. Future state journey maps help you create the vision for that change. At the same time, the best programs measure the current state so that they can show the impact of the redesigned experience, ideally through revenue (new sales, retained customers, additional purchases), but otherwise through reduced operational costs.

This report is a wake-up call. ¾ of programs aren’t winning, and a key reason is that they aren’t doing the hard work needed to create new experiences that earn the right to customer loyalty. It’s not enough to measure NPS and customer satisfaction (although the report has some intriguing findings about this, too). You need to use your measurements and journey maps as a launchpad for change. If 25% of the programs are winning, there’s a decent chance one of them belongs to your competitor.

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