Don’t sleep on these CX priorities in the year ahead
I recently had a fairly simple but remarkable customer experience that gave me new appreciation for the role of CX in 2022.
I’ve been in the market for a new mattress. I cannot say in strong enough terms how much I dislike shopping for mattresses. Next to pants and vehicles, I approach the process with dread and loathing. But a new mattress was needed and thus, I set out to identify the perfect match (spoiler: there isn’t one).
After watching dozens of YouTube videos from great mattress influencers, reading recommendations from Wirecutter and going to a real physical mattress store, I settled on Saatva. It checked all of the right boxes.
The initial customer experience was great. It was easy to order, arrived with delivery into my home and included removal of my old mattress. Those were good benefits. But I found that I just didn’t love the actual product as much as I had hoped. I emailed them about my issue and they promptly offered to send a foam topper at no extra cost.
After sleeping on it again for a couple of months, and against all instinct to just make it work, I decided this was not the right mattress for me. I called to have it returned and that’s when the experience went from already good to great.
A single customer record, linked to my phone number, meant they knew right away who I was and the issues I had been experiencing. I didn’t need to explain anything. I didn’t need to give them my phone number or email. It just worked. After a short conversation, their representative politely offered a replacement or a refund. I got an email confirmation and the rest of the process was completely effortless.
This is what a modern customer experience should look like for every customer, every time. It’s not really hard – at least in concept – but it’s also not easy.
It’s Been a Year (Two, Actually)
Customer experience, as a function and as a profession, has changed so significantly since 2020. Customers have changed. Behaviors have adapted. Companies, and the people who work for them, have shifted to hybrid work models that changed how the workplace feels. These all impact what’s ahead for CX this year and beyond.
Disclaimer: if we’ve learned anything, it’s that there is no certainty when making predictions. Many things can happen that could alter how CX is evolving.
Recently, GetFeedback released their 2022 State of CX Report that covers everything from compensation to job satisfaction to forecasts for the future. It’s a worthwhile read. This is a summary of our perspective on some of their findings and predictions. It’s a comprehensive review that draws on input from more than 2,200 CX professionals across the U.S. and Europe, in 26 industries ranging from B2B to B2C.
First, let’s talk about the CX function as a profession: much has changed, and much has not.
Our experience working with clients on CX programs is consistent with their findings: there is no single CX hub across enterprises. In some organizations it’s home is in IT, in others it’s product, sales or support. A little less than half of their respondents work in organizations with formal CX programs which means – still, in 2022 – that the majority of companies are operating without a defined CX program. It is difficult to have the holistic impact that CX promises without an organization-wide commitment.
CX Is a Team Sport
Teamwork is the top strength that CX leaders in the survey value most, and for good reason.
Particularly in organizations that have yet to adopt formal CX programs, a cohesive team approach to CX is an essential step toward progress. We advocate for something called the Triangle of Awesome: customer service, sales and marketing (and sometimes IT, depending on the organization). Whether formalized in a Center of Excellence model or managed informally, the Triangle of Awesome brings the right functions to the table to address CX insights and needs.
GetFeedback also explored what tools CX leaders are using to manage their programs and again found inconsistency: roughly equal percentages are using CRM, dedicated CX platforms, service/help desk and messaging/chat tools. Our view is that this reflects the wide use cases for CX in an organization. There is no right or wrong set of tools.
Employees Want In On It, Too
What was clear: continued recognition of the challenges posed by employee experience.
Employees are the front line of any CX program. Happy, motivated employees that are provided the training and support needed to excel in their roles leads to CX excellence. But the pandemic has made employee experience programs much more complex to construct and deliver. And no doubt, the macro environment is putting a strain on everyone that can lead to people not feeling they can perform at their peak potential.
Indeed, digging a bit deeper into their findings reveals just how much impact that macro environment is having: of the 10 top obstacles to CX program success, employee motivation ranked No. 1, followed by skills and training. Customer experience is directly correlated to employee experience.
Top Priorities for CX in 2022
What should be the areas you focus on as a CX leader or advocate in 2022? These three would be good places to start.
- Be the bridge to HR: People are struggling to stay connected to their organizations for all kinds of valid reasons. We’re not always working together in the same way we did. And we’re not sure where to find resources needed to do our roles. We’re distracted by the constant parade of things happening in the world around us. You can help your people by identifying a few vital areas of overlap between customer experience and employee experience, and partnering with HR or people development teams to brainstorm ways to improve those key vital elements.
- Expand how you connect and collect: One way to short-circuit CX is to use real-time data to make changes quickly. To do that you’ll need to expand how you collect data from customers to gather it closer to real-time, and you’ll need to share that data and any insights you draw from it with a cohort of colleagues who can help act on it. This should be a high priority for CX in 2022.
- Teamwork: Many organizations continue to battle CX headwinds without a clear enterprise-wide mission. You need to identify what functions in your organization belong to your CX Triangle of Awesome and then seek out real human beings in those roles who you can enlist to help. CX cannot be solved by solo contributions.
There are many other findings and recommendations in GetFeedback’s report. To read it, go here.