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CX Next Recap: Empathy, Emergence, and Money

May 11, 2018

Sam Richardson

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As Customer Experience (CX) professionals gather in New Orleans for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) 2018 Insight Exchange, I’m still reflecting on key themes from the recent CX Next 2018 conference in Boston. This exclusive event, which Nepa was honored to Chair, featured heavyweight CX thought leaders and a great roster of practitioners. Here’s what still resonating two weeks later:

Empathy is the bedrock of Customer Experience

Understanding and embracing customers’ needs and their context is the basis for delivering great experiences. Katherine Deschene of Steward Healthcare preaches that hospital staff must first connect with the patient before completing the task. Marijke Maartense from Philips Healthcare doubled-down on this point with an insightful talk about how to keep it human amidst a sea of technology and digitization.

CX professionals have an obligation to help every person in the organization understand their customers and their context. CX Author & Thought Leader, Kerry Bodine, introduced a bold vision for moving from orchestrated experiences to emergent experiences, guided more by simple principles or rules than a detailed playbook. Kerry borrows the concept from emergent properties in the natural order, best exemplified by the beautiful formations of starling flocks. Every employee in your company should act as individual starlings do –  following a simple set of shared rules – to create beautiful customer experiences. Companies that are already doing this, like and Southwest Airlines, are already reaping the customer retention benefits.

Delivering on Customer Experience is heavy lifting

While empathizing with customers and having a vision for better experiences is the starting point, there is a lot of nuts-and-bolts work behind the scenes to make improvements a reality.

Dave Hodgman, Digital Transformation Strategist at Comcast, shared what goes into meeting his team’s goal of having customers spend less time on routine service requests (like paying a bill or changing a plan). Enabling new experiences for customers requires applying a deep understanding of available tools, data management systems, and corporate policies to customer needs. And, creating new experiences is not enough – CX professionals need to drive the customer adoption of new service methods. This work requires collaboration across many groups at Comcast, and without it, dreams of better experiences would not become reality.

Customer Experience Professionals need to learn a new language

The standard measurements for Customer Experience success – C-SAT, NPS, Customer Effort Score – are no longer sufficient to gain the commitment of executives. The essential metric of business is money, and we must point to financial results – including increased revenue and decreased costs – to earn the investment required to deliver better customer experiences.

Diane Magers, CXPA CEO, hammered this point in “Building and Executing a CX Strategy in an ROI Driven World”, a workshop on mapping techniques that lead you to the business value of a strategy. Diane cited an example of a CX professional who delivered on their goal of improving NPS. The program was then closed, in favor of other investments that visibly demonstrated cost savings and/or increased revenue.

The good news for CX professionals is there are many opportunities to demonstrate how their strategies and programs are driving bottom line results. There are also new ways to translate your CX measurements into financial values – a topic that I spoke on in my “Level up Your CX Measurement” presentation. The key is to link each aspect of customers’ experience to its financial impact on company financials, which both validates the current impact and enables further optimization. It’s all available in our Cultivating Customer Experience Measurement eBook.

I’d like to thank Knect365 for organizing this great event and for asking Nepa to chair this gathering of CX professionals. Look forward to next year!