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Closing the reality gap between the C-suite and customer experience

Most executives today claim that customer experience (CX) is a top goal for their business, but Forrester’s research shows that companies aren’t making meaningful improvements in this area. At Summit, Rick Parrish, a Forrester principal analyst servicing customer experience professionals, shared results of a recent study that shows an alarming lack of leadership in CX across all industries.

At the core of the issue, according to Parrish, is lack of solid, foundational skills required to drive meaningful CX results. Here are some highlights from this session.

Mired in mediocrity

A large majority of customers are having mediocre experiences from the companies they do business with. Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, an annual report that ranks the CX performance of 314 brands in the U.S., shows that consumer satisfaction on their experience has stagnated, with 59% saying their experience is “ok.” Twenty-five percent of consumers rated their experience as “poor” or “very poor” in 2017.

More alarmingly, top brands’ CX performance has remained flat for years. There are no true CX leaders, Parrish said, because no single company has rose to the top of Forrester’s Index and kept on improving. Certain brands rose to the top of Forrester’s Customer Experience Index last year, but that’s only because other brands have declined.

There are no true CX leaders because no single company has rose to the top of Forrester’s Index and kept on improving.

Parrish recommended a practical framework companies can use to bridge the CX leadership gap. Customer Experience Management (CXM), according to Parrish, is a set of activities that every organization must perform to create and provide a great CX reliably and continue to improve over time.

Six competencies that lead to CX leadership

CXM requires mastering six competencies, and mastering all six is key, according to Parrish:

  1. Culture. Companies need to create a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employees on delivering great customer experiences.
  2. Research to understand your customers in depth. You also need to communicate that understanding to employees and partners.
  3. Prioritize by focusing on what’s most important for your customers’ experience and your business’ success.
  4. Design refers to how you define and refine experiences based on your vision and research-based customer understanding.
  5. Enable your employees and partners with the resources they need to deliver the right experiences.
  6. Measure and quantify the quality of customer experiences and their link to your organization’s overall metrics. Track and analyze what happens when customers interact with your company, how they perceive those interactions, and what they do as a result. Parrish emphasized that communicating CX metrics with actionable insights to employees and partners is critical.

Parrish admits that getting CXM is a big job, but the methods aren’t mysterious. He encouraged Summit attendees to ground their efforts in this framework since it’s a practical way of making big leaps in customer experience.