It’s never been a more exciting time to be in the customer experience (CX) business. By 2021, global spend on customer experience is expected to reach $13 billion. To understand the dynamics behind this fast-growing discipline, and advise companies on how to deliver best-in-class experiences, we recently surveyed 1,000 organizations.
What we discovered is that those who put “true experiences” at the center of everything they do outperform the market, with virtually all — 93% — of organizational leaders reporting sizable year-over-year financial growth, and some even moving their share prices 69% ahead of the competition.
Because of this stunning ROI, organizations are scrambling to transform their operations so they can deliver seamless human experiences. But this is no small task. Becoming customer-centric requires change across the organization. We found that the companies who excel in customer experience have three things in common:
1. A connected culture: The most successful companies have a truly customer-centric culture, which entails a commitment to customers that starts at the top and cascades down. And 67% of them acknowledge it requires substantial resources and budget. These executives create an environment where risk is rewarded and failure is seen as an opportunity to grow. Most importantly, they know that a great customer experience is everyone’s job, so they collaborate radically — where other businesses see silos, they form connection points.
An example of a company that blows it out of the (amusement) park, is no surprise, Disney. Disney goes out of its way to immerse employees in its customer experience culture in numerous ways. Its Take Five program, for example, encourages cast members to take five minutes out of every day to do something special for a guest. This quickly becomes habit, greatly improving the experiences for customers.
2. Are data-driven: CX leaders don’t simply pay lip service to data. They have created a cohesive data strategy to support the organization’s quest to make the customer journey their new value chain. But progress in this area is mixed.
Some CX leaders are addressing data silos with numerous owners, parsing out mountains of data to reveal the critical few from the important many, and applying the right skills to integrate complex data streams.
Other CX leaders — about 30% of them — have created a deliberate and consistent single view of the customer by identifying the right data sources, integrating them in a systematic way, and creating insights that empower their teams to take action.
And we found that the most successful CX leaders are using predictive models and machine learning to anticipate their customers’ future needs and desires.
Becoming truly data-driven is an ongoing quest, even among CX leaders, but the right level of investment can yield tremendous value and competitive differentiation. Companies who get this right today enjoy more personalized interactions with their customers, better access, and lastly are able to guide customers through journeys to optimize experiences faster than ever.
3. It starts from within: In all customer journeys, there are opportunities to offer a human connection that leads to an emotional bond. Eighty percent of CX leaders hire on the basis of raw talent — seeking professionals who can easily engage with customers. Eighty-two percent of them coach desired interactions on a regular basis.
And when those behaviors are achieved, 76% of leaders empower their employees to do right by the customer. And within 56% of CX leaders, reward and recognition systems cascade from the senior management to the frontline, and exceptional experiences are socialized in every day forums.
In today’s world where executives have access to a wide array of technology and data, creating peak customer experiences is the new norm and one of the few remaining paths to exceptional ROI. As digital analyst Brian Solis stated, “Products don’t define a brand, experiences do… . Simply put, brands are increasingly defined by those who experience them.”