This year’s Forrester CXNYC conference showed the seismic shift happening in Customer Experience Management (CXM) in the context of brands increasingly focusing on the customer and customer engagement.

This is a shift that puts empathy with the customer and data-driven design at the centre of CX practice. While “empathy” and “data-driven” may seem almost contradictory terms, the change in the way customers and businesses interact in today’s omni-channel world demands a new approach to CX that marries the art of experience design to data science and analytics. CX is evolving as it acknowledges the full omni-channel customer journey and the broader context of Customer Engagement. Experience Designers who traditionally owned the customer journey, or designed the journey, are having to adopt new practices as they embrace the fact that it’s the customer’s journey, not theirs.

Until now CXM has mainly relied on qualitative research and the designer’s intuition to make customer interactions easier and more efficient at each individual touchpoint. This has no doubt had a positive impact on the usability of singular channels, but at the same time has contributed to the fragmentation of the customer picture into multiple functional silos. No longer having the whole customer in sight, but only the narrow perspectives offered by each channel, businesses have over time lost the human touch, and with it the ability to empathise with their customers. This is ironic considering that the proliferation of touchpoints, which is responsible for fuelling the growth of this problem to almost unmanageable proportions, is at the same time generating, and giving organisations access to, an unprecedented amount of information on their customers.

Everything we saw and heard at Forrester CXNYC confirmed this point of view: “Customer engagement goes beyond managing the experience at touch points to include all the ways companies motivate customers to invest in an on-going relationship with a product or brand.  More customer interactions across more touch points are shaping the degree of engagement a customer feels with a brand. Brands that learn to design and execute effective customer-engagement strategies will have the advantage; the others will lose ground.” (McKinsey, Five ‘No Regrets’ Moves for Superior Customer Engagement.)

Industry-leading research has also proven that failing to understand the customer journey as a whole is a source of more dissatisfaction than an individual negative experience along that journey. Focusing on individual experiences at isolated points of interaction will not lead to a value-driven ongoing relationship that meets the expectations of the customer. Journey performance is a much stronger predictor of customer satisfaction and business outcomes. Analysts and businesses at the Forrester CXNYC conference all agreed on one point: it is time to “add science to the art” of CX management.

“Customer journey analytics is the next frontier in customer obsessed measurement.” Joana Van Den Brink- Quintanilha, Forrester

Forrester’s Joana Van Den Brink- Quintanilha introduced customer journey analytics as “the next frontier in customer obsessed measurement”. She showed unequivocal evidence that journey analytics can produce big gains for the organisations embracing this practice. For example, car manufacturer Ford saw a 48x email performance lift by connecting offline and online journeys, while hospitality group Xanterra reported a 91% lift in online conversion when presenting customers with personalised content. Joana also said: “Journey analytics enables customer-led journeys”. This mirrors our thinking when we say, it’s their journey, not yours. It also reflects McKinsey’s point of view: “the heart of journey centric measurement is the organising principle of measuring customer experience at the journey level as opposed to looking only at transactional touchpoints or overall satisfaction.” (See previous blog)

At the event Rob Comstock, EVP Operations at Cablevision, explained that building empathy with customers is not just about process improvements, but requires a cultural investment from the C-suite to the front-line. When he made Net Promoter Score 30% of the front-line employees’ performance scorecard he almost triggered an insurrection among customer service representatives, but over time Cablevision’s NPS rose from below 50 to over 70, and agents’ individual performance grew proportionally with it.

Alice Milligan, Citi’s Chief Customer and Digital Experience Officer, said that Citi’s CX revolution started by shifting the cultural mind set of the company from value capture to the concept of co-creation of value. This then translated in prioritising the top customer experiences to address based on transition volumes and NPS scores.

To summarise Forrester CXNYC, as customers demand more relevant and personalised interactions with brands, those brands need to understand the customer journey as a whole and deliver genuine customer engagement over time rather than merely good individual experiences in isolation. Forrester CXNYC showed us that organisations must embrace a more disciplined, scientific approach. This requires firms to put co-creation of value at the centre of the brand’s culture, leverage data science and journey analytics to understand customer behaviour and needs, and adopt rigorous measurement practices to prioritise customer initiatives and quantify results.

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