Tiffany Carpenter is Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK, and is a Judge at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.

I’m delighted and excited to be on the judging panel at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards, which are taking place on October 11.

The entries are in and more than 100 companies have been shortlisted – a clear signal that Customer Experience has gone mainstream and organisations are recognising the positive impact and business value that can ensue.

Having reviewed the entries for the Best use of Insight and Feedback category, I noticed several recurring themes in the submissions that made the shortlist.

There is increasing acceptance that Customer Experience is the new battleground for organisations, and a study by Forrester found that CX leaders delivered compound annual revenue growth rates (CAGR) of 17 percent, compared to just three percent for CX laggards. 

Gartner  also reports that nearly all companies will primarily compete on Customer Experience rather than price in the coming years. Yet many companies struggle to tie their Customer Experience strategies to genuine business results and end up losing momentum in their efforts to optimise the CX as a result.

To secure ongoing investment and achieve the growth rates suggested by Forrester, it’s critical to provide the proof points back to the C-Suite of how investment in Customer Experience initiatives are driving tangible results.

What I noticed about each of the shortlisted organisations in this category was that all had clearly identified the goals and objectives of their customer insight and feedback initiative, and were able to align it to business strategy. What’s more, each of the organisations were able to articulate the major wins from their Customer Experience initiative across a range of metrics including increase in revenue, lifetime value of customers, customer satisfaction and advocacy, reduced churn, and fewer complaints.

These are the operational fundamentals for most businesses, and therefore will not only support ongoing investment but highlight the case for much wider ownership of Customer Experience – including at senior levels, within all organisations.

Another recurring theme was the integrated approach to collection, analysis, distribution, and action across a variety of customer data and feedback. We’ve never had more detailed data about what consumers want, how they act, and what their experience is as they interact with the organisation. Meanwhile, new capabilities such as big data, machine learning, and the Internet of Things are giving companies exciting opportunities to listen to and understand their customers in ways that were not possible just a few years ago.

Yet detail is one thing; clarity and actionable insights that enable organisations to become more responsive to customer needs and deliver more compelling experiences is quite another. The organisations that made the shortlist were able to look beyond the fog of data to identify the insights and actions that would make the biggest difference to their customers and deliver tangible business results.

Companies have been struggling to overcome customer service and data silos for decades. The operating model for most companies is organised around business functions, products, geography, or channels rather than around the customer.

These silos naturally lead to  fragmentation in customer-facing processes and are a significant barrier when it comes to delivering a consistent, end-to-end Customer Experience. The reality is that customers don’t think of organisations in terms of business units and channels, they see the organisation as one single brand and they expect relevant, consistent, personalised, and seamless experiences whenever and however they choose to interact.

So I was very impressed to see the creative ways that customer insights and feedback were being used to break down these organisational silos. Those that were most successful in achieving this had ensured their planning and preparation phase included aligning and influencing stakeholders from both within and external to the organisation, ensuring everyone understood the vision, their role, and that ownership and accountability was clearly agreed.

I’m looking forward to meeting each of these organisations and hearing more detail about their initiatives when they present to the judging panel at the awards finals. My key takeaway from this first round is that those organisations that demonstrate business impact and value are most likely to gain additional investment in Customer Experience, and, crucially, will be poised to win the battle for customer hearts and minds.

Find out how SAS is helping Royal Bank of Scotland transform its organisational processes, improve employee engagement, and deliver excellent customer service.

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