Understanding every human touchpoint, reaction, and expectation has evolved from a competitive differentiator for market leaders to an embedded, core practice that all businesses must achieve to survive.
We recently asked nearly 4,000 professionals in Product, Marketing, Design, and Research across an array of industries how their organizations approach customer experience (CX) and conduct CX research.
Our findings revealed that organizations are in the midst of a sea change. In prior years, the study found that delivering great CX was an aspiration, with only a handful leading the charge. This year, CX is front and center: 90% of respondents said that great CX is critical to success and that their companies compete on the basis of CX. And there is good reason: “The revenue growth of CX leaders is 5.1 times that of laggards,” writes Forrester.
The CX study surfaced three key best practices to create great customer experiences:
1. Embrace the Human Element
There’s too much emphasis on quantitative data. More than three-fourths of respondents said surveys and analytics often fail to explain customer behavior; and more than half of A/B tests fail to produce a statistically significant results.
Unfortunately, many executives only have access to quantitative data ‚ such as Net Promoter Score — which results in overconfidence. We found that executives are far more likely than others to report that their organization had very good CX; however, those armed with both qualitative and quantitative data understand the holistic experience and consistently report a much worse experience.
Without the air cover of executives, those equipped with both human insights and quantitative data are unable to make the process improvements needed to keep up with changing customer expectations, and risk losing to competitors who do.
2. Democratize CX Research
For the fifth year in a row, CX research is growing. About half of respondents reported that CX research budgets increased; only 5% said it declined. However, UX and Market Researchers alone can’t handle the volume needed to optimize all CX.
In an approach that many call “democratization of CX research,” technology is making it possible to empower employees throughout the company to conduct their own CX studies. 90% of respondents said they want to empower other employees to execute their own CX research.
Organizations must change their philosophy and require employees across disciplines and titles to connect with customers (like Amazon does) to make accurate, customer-centric decisions without slowing the business.
3. Venture into the Why, Well Beyond Websites
Most companies have little understanding of their customer’s entire journey because the vast majority of CX research focuses on a single experience (e.g., the homepage). Companies win by creating delightful experiences across all customer touchpoints. The study revealed a wide variety of uses for CX research, reflecting its broad adoption across departments. Emerging uses include testing customer reactions to marketing content, understanding customer behavior and lifestyles, and complex in-the-wild experiences.
Optimizing and integrating every customer touchpoint has transitioned from being a cutting-edge advantage to a necessary part of doing business. To maintain or leapfrog your market position, better understand the entire customer experience. That is not only how customers navigate your site or app, but also why they make decisions or buy from you.