I appreciate this is a controversial title – but let me explain! Last year, I questioned whether Customer Experience had delivered the goods. This year, I question whether Customer Experience is the problem. This year, I think Customer Experience isn’t failing us; we are failing Customer Experience.
This whole line of thinking started last June with the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score. ACSI uses an overall U.S. Customer Satisfaction score to denote the health of the economy. Since 1994, the ACSI score rose from 74.8 to 76.8 in 2013 and then dropped to 75.2 by the end of 2014. The scores then show a steady decline across all four quarters last year, ending at 73.4. You can see the whole chart here.
This trend is, of course, a tad disappointing.
The idea of Customer Experience is that by improving it, you will increase your emotional engagement with your customers. They will feel positive toward your brand, like you more, form an emotional bond with you, become more loyal to you, and give you more of their business. It isn’t a stretch to assume they will be satisfied by the experience.
Many organizations say they have embraced Customer Experience. They say they have invested time and money into improving their Customer Experience.
But the ASCI continues to drop. Which begs the question, is investing in the Customer Experience worth it?
The answer is YES! We know that improving the CX does pay dividends. Our work with clients shows this to be the case.
Here are two examples:
Maersk Line who have improved their net promoter score by 40 points in 30 months which resulted in a 10% increase in shipping volumes.
Ricoh Canada who improved their net promoter score by 34 points in 30 months and have subsequently grown revenues by 10% year on year, in a “shrinking printer usage market”.
So if this change is possible, why hasn’t the ASCI risen the way we expected with so many people embracing the concept of Customer Experience?
I have a theory, but bear with me; again it’s a bit controversial! Part of the reason Customer Experience hasn’t made the gains for companies that it should is because people are just jumping on the bandwagon, rebranding their jobs Customer Experience, but not doing anything differently.
For example, only the other day I was talking to somebody who had Customer Experience in their job title. During the conversation, this person revealed the fact that he used to be in Customer Service. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Me: So, what are you doing differently now that you are in Customer Experience instead of Customer Service?
CX Professional: Nothing.
Sadly, this situation isn’t uncommon for me. Too many people think that Customer Service is the same thing as Customer Experience. But it is MUCH more than that. It involves a careful examination of what emotions the experience evokes throughout the different moments, including how customers come into the experience. Customer Experience also creates cues for the subconscious, which can be positive or negative. Customer Experience is all the moments a customer has in an experience with you, not just the ones with the Customer Service team.
In the case of the fellow I was speaking with the other day, their management perception is ‘they are doing Customer Experience now’. However, the reality is nothing has changed. To be honest, they don’t know what they are doing.
The danger that my industry faces is that with Customer Experience being the vogue topic these days, everybody talks about it even when they have no idea what it is or how to use it. As a result, nothing changes. The same outcomes exist because the same problems cause them. Only now, instead of seeing the problems in the experience itself and blaming them, the whole concept of Customer Experience takes the blame for overpromising and under-delivering..
Customer Experience isn’t the same thing as Customer Service. It is more than a title change or a catchphrase. It is more than a fad; it’s the competitive differentiator you need at a time when competition is fierce and not likely to ease up anytime soon.
When I started consulting back in 2002, no one knew what Customer Experience was. Now, in 2016, some still don’t. As I said, everybody has jumped on the Customer Experience bandwagon. You hear the term everywhere. You also hear a lot of ideas about what it is. We define it as:
A customer’s perception of their rational, physical, emotional, subconscious, and psychological interaction with any part of an organization. This perception affects Customer behaviors and builds memories, which drive Customer loyalty and affects the economic value an organization generates.
I would argue that most of the people on the bandwagon today don’t really appreciate what a Customer experience entails. I would argue that they certainly don’t go into the depths of what this definition includes. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know. As a consequence, they don’t make the progress that Maersk Line and Ricoh Canada have.
Listen, your competition would love nothing more than for you to carry on thinking that Customer Service and Customer Experience are the same things. But if you want to help your organization perform better and actually be better, you have to learn what Customer Experience is and do the hard work associated with improving it.
You have a choice to make:
#1: Do nothing and get the same results you always have.
#2: Jump on the bandwagon and say you know what Customer Experience is when you don’t and still get the same results you always have.
#3: Be a part of the movement that is designed to help you carve out a competitive difference at a time when a competitive difference is hard to come by. You can do the work needed to create a Customer Experience that makes your customers feel good about your brand, bond with you emotionally, and come back for more.
What will you choose?