Experience Management and the rise of the CXO

21 Jul 2021

Experience Management and the rise of the CXO

The experience economy has changed the way businesses operate today, whereby now Experience Management (XM) is a board level priority for the world’s leading organisations.

Competing on price or product is simply no longer enough – consumers demand exceptional customer service, tailored to their specific needs and preferences. 

This focus on XM has had even greater resonance during Covid, where consumers are embracing new ways to communicate, interact with, and buy from, the brands they love. Indeed, they are increasingly loyal to the brands that consistently provide value with minimum friction or stress.

Four pillars of XM

Brands realise XM needs to be ingrained within every operating process and function, from product development to brand marketing. However, despite digital transformation accelerating across almost every industry, some organisations can struggle to deliver this level of service as their data is not connected, personalised or actionable, says Stephanie Barton, MD EMEA at experience management company Qualtrics.

To overcome this challenge, the Qualtrics XM platform enables organisations to design and improve experiences across four pillars: brand, product, customer, and employee.

“What’s important is bringing the data together – the employee experience, customer experience and brand experiences are interlinked. This is a differentiator and how organisations will compete in the future, rather than making decisions based on gut instinct,” says Barton.

“I can see what my customers are saying, what feedback I’m getting from employees, my actionable insights, and what I need to do.”

Macro-level insight

Grace Francis, Chief Experience Officer at creative agency Karmarama, acknowledges that we are living in a unique window of time. But it is one where technology like machine learning (ML) is enabling brands to acknowledge loyalty and lifetime customer value, for example:

“Historically, we’ve been pleased when customers come back to us. Now we can consciously identify and continue to reward them. Simple examples include; lifetime value customers, being put to the front of the queue for deliveries."

"Meaning customers unconsciously benefit through loyalty and get a better service in return, which is entirely possible for brands to provide, not just at logistical levels but in all sorts of different ways,” they explain.

Similarly, it is no longer sufficient to rely on metrics like a net promoter score (NPS) at the end of a customer engagement experience.

“Instead, we’re looking at the micro conversions, at those moments of engagement. We’re looking at the implicit and explicit data…together it starts to give us a full picture which is even more accurate than we have for ourselves as individuals,” says Francis.

Insight over data

Marc McNeill, Customer Experience Director of Auto Trader, agrees that while a NPS is great for measuring and monitoring the health of your experience, the subjective insight you can derive behind that number is more important.

Similarly, he observes that what people say and do can be two separate things – which highlights the value of insight over data.

“If you’re thinking about buying a car, what are the two or three things that are most important in your choice of car? Colour is really important – and yet, if you ask the Auto Trader data, colour is way down on the list. That’s because of where the option to filter your search for colour appears. When it’s placed near the bottom, few people use it.

“But when people go in [to a car showroom] to buy, colour is really important. Listening to what people say, and observing what they actually do, are two different things.”

McNeill says the type of insight needed to provide a successful experience for the customer is “very much of a macro level” including their feedback and insight.

“Obviously, consumer insight is really important. It’s those macro trends – the fact that consumers are starting to be more comfortable with the concept of buying a car on the internet. A lot of people give up in the process of car buying, because it is hard, because there are so many barriers. So, if we make it easier, people are going to be buying cars more often.”

All aspects of the experience

New data from Qualtrics shows that fewer than half of consumers globally consider good products and services to be the most important factor in selecting a company. “Focusing on one purchasing driver is not enough – businesses should prioritise product quality, customer service, and the brand’s position in relation to its competitors, and wider society,” it notes.

As a result, organisations today are tracking customer behaviour to improve, predict, constantly iterate, and innovate to ensure market penetration and expand market share.

From a business leadership perspective, the emphasis on XM goes hand-in-hand with the rise of the Customer Experience Officer (CXO) as an important voice in the boardroom – which will lead to XM becoming integral to almost every aspect of a brand’s strategy.

Says Francis: “This generation of CXOs or experienced practitioners will make an amazing next generation of CEOs because they are holding customers and the business in mind, and they can’t let go of one for the sake of the other.”

To discuss the CXO or Experience Management in your own business please contact Michael Drew of the Global Technology & IT Services Practice.