What you learn when world class CX leaders come together

By Sam Richardson | January 11, 2018

As the holiday spirit swept into New York in early December, Nepa hosted a round table discussion with CX leaders from the retail, hospitality and entertainment industries. Companies that are on the top of their games. Literally the Louisville City FC had just been crowned USL Champions, while a national retailer was riding high from a strong Black Friday performance, and an international hotel chain that is posting RevPar growth amidst difficult conditions.

I think I speak for all when I say one of the biggest takeaways was simply the value of meeting with leaders for other industries to share experiences. This open venue allowed for open dialogue about overcoming challenges to make an organization be customer led and brainstorm about the future.  My professional new year’s resolution is to organize similar discussions. Comment below if you’re interested!

Without further ado, here are 4 key themes from the discussion.

1. Measurement is necessary; Story-telling leads to Success

There was a lot of talk about Executive Support. Funding alone is not sufficient – executives must evangelize CX programs through (and beyond) the organization to demonstrate their importance. Chick-fil-a – a company that has not been shy about its commitment to service – was mentioned frequently as a company that delivers great customer experience.

Not all measurements are created equal though, and measurement alone is not sufficient. The ability to translate CX measurement into financial predictions gives them more weight with analytical leaders. And, the best measurements need to be woven into stories that inspire all staff to be customer-obsessed. This is important for an industry that has too long relied on dashboards to inspire change.

2. Customers’ Experience your brand at the Front Line

Whether it’s an employee that lacks the empathy for a customer’s situation or a Disney employee that turns a problem into a Magical Experience – customers’ experience your brand at the front lines.

A common problem shared by CX leaders across industries is motivating and empowering front-line staff to deliver great experiences. This is especially important amidst increased reliance on partners to carry out parts of the experience in the gig economy.

Serving up CX dashboards and analytics are not sufficient – as data analytics rules the day in many corporate HQs, it does not on the front lines. While we didn’t solve this problem in an afternoon, there were some great tips shared:

  • Give authority to make the right decision for customers.
  • Provide the right decision support (e.g. customer data and focus on what is most important to get right).
  • Lead with passion and purpose – everyone need to see leaders putting customers first.
  • Communicate in the language of those in the front lines of your business.

3. Focus on the Customer over the Competition

Jeff Bezos (not in attendance) has said “If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.” This brilliant round table made similar points about the importance of being led by customers, not by your competitors.

A hotelier shared about how innovation to the room key by a competitor sent senior management into a frenzy to catch-up. But, their own customer data showed this innovation was not important to its customers. Chasing the competitor could have diverted valuable resources from delivering on what’s important to customers.

The point is simple here – have conversations with your customers and act on their needs and wants.

4. The attention economy – from Customer Experience to Customer Engagement

Anne Roggeveen, Professor of Retail and Marketing at Babson college, kicked off a discussion around the “owners” of different touchpoints – that is brand, partners, the customer, and externally (e.g. social/independent). In an increasingly connected and always-on world, the balance of touchpoints has shifted away from brand-owned and towards touchpoints owned by customers, partners, and other external sources.

With less control, Customer Experience needs to broaden to Customer Engagement. It is more important now to engage customers even at the touchpoints that you don’t own (e.g. review sites) and interact with customers beyond your traditional lines of business (e.g. branded credit card that builds loyalty through all a customer’s purchases). Journey Mapping and Path to Purchase solutions are making new strides in understanding all touchpoints along the journey, both on and off line.

You can also engage to help mitigate a bad experience at a partner touchpoint along the path to your brand (e.g. solving for a bad parking experience that is not owned by the sports club).

That’s it for now – there was some great content from this discussion that was left on the cutting room floor – please feel free to comment or email me (sean.dunn@nepa.com) to discuss more about CX trends heading into 2018. And, let me know if you can help me out with my resolution to participate/host more of these discussions this year.

Sean Dunn
Vice President, Client Solutions at Nepa USA

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