The more time you spend immersed in the world of CX, the more it becomes clear that a whole host of competing theories exist around what the day-to-day managing of customer experience really consists of. One thing that most people do seem to agree on however, is that in today’s world, CX is pretty darned important.
A quick online search and you’ll bring up any number of reports and stats suggesting if you’re not focusing on CX, you’re probably not focusing in the right place:
- “By 2020 CX will overtake product and price as the key differentiator” – Jacada Group
- “72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is No.1 priority” – Forrester Group
Whether or not it’s actually embodied in practice, the trend for businesses to place a high premium on ‘customer experience’ is very much the contemporary vogue. But just how exactly did CX come to occupy its existing place in today’s retail landscape?
How did we get here?
A common retail narrative has it that digitalization has changed consumer buying behaviour. Over the last twenty years, a technological revolution produced a fundamental change in the expectations of today’s consumers. In an ‘always-on’ world, customers have lower attention spans, tend to a mobile first approach and increasingly rely on peer recommendations.
For today’s customer, to paraphrase retail futurist Doug Stephens, it’s not so much ‘what retailers sell, but how they sell it”. Whereas the store was once the ultimate showroom and transactional touch point for commerce, today’s shoppers are fully immersed in omni-channel, and marrying the convenience of online with the tangible pleasures of in-store has become the ambition for forward thinking retailers.
For those tasked with responsibility of owning the ‘customer journey’ – the job has becoming an increasingly tough one. Digital and physical touch points not only have to operate according to their own strengths, but they must also complement each other flawlessly. Customer Experience is no longer just about ‘marketing’ a certain brand story, it’s about embodying excellence across every touch point of the business.
For Annette Franz, widely respected CEO and founder of the blog CX Journey, the idea that CX is something that businesses are only waking up to today is patently ridiculous. CX is not just tomorrow’s next big thing, it’s what we should have been focusing on all along,
“Headlines like ‘CX will be the only competitive advantage in 2020’ kicks the can down the road for those companies…ignoring (or not getting it) that the customer experience is critical today.”
For Franz, the key difficulty with customer experience and culture transformation is quite simply that it’s hard work – “A lot of hard work. It’s a journey. You’ve got to move mountains. And silos.” Customers expect personalized and simplified experiences today. A report published by management consultants Bain & Company, suggests that in many ways Franz’s thinking is correct.
Closing the Delivery Gap contains the rather shocking statistic that while 80% of companies believe they provide ‘a superior proposition’, only 8% of their customers agree. In spite of what the 362 organizations surveyed thought they were doing to mark themselves apart from the competition, the report back from customers suggested they were not succeeding.
If the biggest businesses in world are struggling, to implement such programs, where does that leave those individuals tasked with the difficult job of looking after CX today?
For more reading, check out our previous post our CX series: