How Do You Deliver Exceptional Customer Experience? Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Q&A With Ed Thompson

It's important organizations understand the different types of projects that can improve the customer experience.

Your customers demand excellent products or services, and expect an exceptional customer experience (CX). We asked Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, as well as conference chair of Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015 Barcelona, in Spain, November 8-12, to explain how to lead successful CX initiatives and best manage your CX metrics. 

Q: How do organizations measure CX?

Hundreds of CX metrics exist. Large organizations use at least 50, and no organization uses the same combination. An organization implements CX metrics both before and after CX projects to build consensus about the priorities, rationale and business justification of these investments. Getting the full picture requires multiple metrics that may be more challenging to obtain, but are required to provide a true reflection of the organization’s CX challenges and strengths.

All organizations focus on customer satisfaction metrics. Almost all those that develop a CX initiative tend to also look at measures of customer loyalty and advocacy; approximately half also include quality metrics, and around one in three look at employee satisfaction and engagement metrics.

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Q: What are the most common points that lead to CX project failures, and what do successful organizations do differently?  

A Gartner online survey conducted in the first quarter of 2015 among 289 respondents in charge of CX projects found several common causes of CX project failures: poor overall direction and lack of senior management sponsorship, failure to fix issues with business processes that damage the CX, the lack of a customer-centric approach to business, and poor collaboration and coordination across the organization.

In contrast, the drivers of successful CX projects are the improved use of customer feedback, good leadership, repaired or improved business processes, multichannel management, and good collaboration and coordination across the whole organization.

As technology plays a central role in half of CX projects (according to chief customer officers), it can determine if someone becomes, or even remains, a customer. The CIO must take a leading role in pushing the company toward delivering better CX management, and showing how technology can boost the CX and grow the company.

Q: Gartner has developed a CX project framework of seven broad categories. What are the categories that are most frequently adopted by organizations today?

It is important for organizations to understand the different types (or categories) of projects that can improve the CX. There are seven types, each with a distinct focus: Listen, Think and Do; From Out to In; Act as One; Open Up; Get Personal; Alter Attitudes; and Design Better.

While there is not one project type more paramount than another, the online survey showed that organizations focus on some more than others. Last year, the focus was most on Listen, Think and Do projects, where they listen to customers across multiple channels and close the loop in replying to customer feedback in a more timely manner.

Today, organizations are focusing more on three areas in addition to Listen, Think and Do. Firstly, the Open Up category, where organizations recognize the need to help customers by opening up new channels, honoring privacy to demonstrate trust and improving co-creation by fostering increased customer participation.

Secondly, the Design Better category, where organizations focus on designing the experience — benchmarking usability and empathy, as well as focusing on brand execution.

Finally, organizations are focusing on Acting as One. Customers do not like to deal with a series of unconnected departments or individuals. The challenge, however, is to achieve multichannel consistency. Customers expect persistence of information across channels — they expect to be recognized and remembered.

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