Customer Experience is a global movement – across the world, an increasing number of companies are understanding the business case for focusing on the customer, and are seeking the right tools to achieve this goal.
Some countries have, however, reached a greater level of CX maturity than others. The roots of CX culture run deepest in the United States, where organisations such as Amazon have set a global standard in customer centricity.
In fact, an Ipsos + Medallia study indicated that 19 percent of US customers feel their expectations were exceeded in online retail experiences, compared to just nine percent of UK customers.
While there remains considerable variation among sectors – only 11 percent of American customers feel similarly positive about their offline retail encounters – there is also a striking difference in CX perception among countries.
In Germany, relatively few online retail customers say their expectations were exceeded – eight percent compared to 19 percent in the US.
Customer Experience in the UK lies somewhere between these two extremes; more sophisticated than in Germany, but not yet at the level of the US. Some UK sectors, such as the hotel industry, perform particularly well, with 21 percent of customers saying their expectations were exceeded. Yet the overall average across sectors is under 10 percent – well behind the US figure of 17.3 percent.
So the UK is getting there with Customer Experience, but it’s far from consistent and there is still significant progress to be made. The question at this stage is: what can UK companies do to take Customer Experience to the next level and establish themselves as the uncontested CX leaders of Europe?
1. Be smart about your surveys
There is a tricky balance to strike in Customer Experience: you want to know as much as possible about your customers, but they don’t want to spend all afternoon answering your surveys. Fortunately, a limited number of open-ended questions will typically get your customers sharing their most pressing concerns.
This is why it’s so important to get surveys right. The best time for your customers to answer questions is in the moment, when memories of the interaction are still fresh and likely to elicit the most accurate responses.
A great way of capturing these fresh opinions is by embedding surveys throughout your customer journey. These provide more granular responses than general end-of-transaction emails, and they’re a great addition to your CX toolkit.
It’s now possible to embed surveys at highly specific stages of the journey, such as when customers are watching media-heavy content or reading product pages and descriptions. You can decide which approach is best for the specific needs of your business.
2. Use real-time text analytics
Qualitative feedback is essential for gaining a more nuanced understanding of customer issues. Many companies in the UK still employ large teams of people to sift through this feedback, looking for trends, but the truth is that technology can enable your staff to make smarter, data-based decisions while saving valuable time.
For example, text analytics can identify the tone of written responses using artificial intelligence, automatically sorting them into clusters and enabling you to identify and prioritise the most important areas going forward.
This enables your team to operate at a higher level, interpreting the findings from your text analytics and putting them to good use.
3. Bring Customer Experience into instant messaging
Capturing feedback at the right time, and on the right channel, is vital. However, instant messaging integration isn’t just about feedback – you can also include targeted features that your customer will really appreciate, such as holiday or entertainment recommendations.
Using platforms like WhatsApp or Messenger also enables customers to share a wider range of media by uploading videos or sending photos while having a more convenient and frictionless feedback experience.
4. Integrate with voice technology
Abound 10 million Brits use a smart speaker, and that number is expected to grow by a third in 2019. Since this is an increasingly significant touchpoint, it’s important to measure precisely what customers think.
It is now possible to integrate surveys with Alexa and other web-connected devices through solutions such as Medallia’s Digital Anywhere.
When you combine these insights with data about how your customers interact with IoT (Internet of Things) devices, you can get a clear picture of their priorities across the whole customer journey. It’s also important to remember that Customer Experience expectations continue to rise. If your CX innovations don’t keep up with consumer trends, how do you expect to retain customers?
5. Do more to personalise
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Customer Experience. Customers will respond differently depending on the circumstance. Being sensitive to these nuances is crucial for anyone working in CX. For instance, if a passenger’s flight has just been cancelled, that may not be the best time to ask for feedback: it will most likely serve to irritate them.
The more advanced the technology you have informing your CX strategy, the more you will be able to personalise and deliver outstanding experiences.
6. Incorporate artificial intelligence platforms
The potential for this goes far beyond text analytics, and we’re now seeing revolutionary new products using AI to optimise Customer Experience. AI-driven CX solutions can deliver targeted, precise insights about every touchpoint in your customer journey.
Beyond helping you understand qualitative feedback, these types of advanced solutions automatically assess your survey responses and can help you predict the impact of changes to your CX strategy.
What next for the UK?
Although a European leader, there remains a significant CX gap between the UK and the US. It’s only by harnessing world-beating technology that Britain will be able to deliver experiences to that same high standard.
Whether it’s collecting feedback in a smarter, less intrusive way, or using artificial intelligence to inform decisions, truly embracing the digital revolution and adopting more advanced CX capabilities is the best way to enhance Customer Experience.