It’s impossible to deny that customer experience (CX) is now the crucial battleground for brands. Especially when we consider statistics like this:
By 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience - compared to 36% just four years ago. (Gartner, 2015)
And by 2020, CX will overtake price and products as the key differentiator for brands. (Customers 2020 Report)
But this isn’t all. There’s a plethora of equally mind-blowing stats and research results from a wide range of sources that confirm this trend.
In reality, this is no surprise and I would in fact argue that this has always been the case. More than 15 years ago, I was watching a presentation that claimed ‘customers are the new media’, meaning a company’s only chance of growth was through brilliant customer experience.
Today, customers are truly the gatekeepers of growth. They review, share, talk and critique customer experiences to a point that the business case for a concentration on customer experience is compelling…
A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing cost by 10%. (Leading on the edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy and Mark Murphy)
70% of buying decisions are based on how the customer feels (McKinsey)
According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% feel that companies consistently meet their expectations (Forbes)
Allow me another ‘Wow!’
The growing emphasis on customer experience over the last 5 years has been dramatic - so much so, CMOs are now calling it the ‘fifth P’. But there is still some debate about what this actually means, and a lot more evidence to suggest that CX alone is not enough.
Let’s tackle the debate first...
What does this actually mean?
Many articles and thought pieces on the subject focus on the use of data and digital media to deliver better customer experience. I’d say that 75% seem to do this, but surely they’re missing a fundamental point - customer experience is the product of many things beyond just the use of data to target and communicate.
Customer experience is built by all the little touches in a brand experience; the multitude of service, design, and communication elements all have a significant impact on how customers feel about a brand.
So it is not just data that makes the difference, and it is not just the improvement to customer experience that will help companies grow. Improvement is not enough. In fact, on its own, improvement is dangerous.
CX alone is not enough
If companies just focus on improving service, ironing out the glitches, and making everything run smoothly, we will soon hit the issue of differentiation. It’s inevitable, and is already happening. Which means CX development must be driven by the brand.
‘Greater Alignment brings greater success.’ (Gallup Research, Harvard Business Review)
Greater alignment is an essential part of any brand alignment programme
Let’s take a closer look at The Jockey Club as an example.
Ladies Day at Aintree - part of The Grand National Festival - had been experiencing decline in attendances for some time. Something they had to change…
They worked out the core drivers and motivations triggering attendance at the event, and identified the various barriers preventing people from visiting. Using this information, they realigned their customer experience and built a new customer driven experience with a series of fantastic brand amplification moments to help redefine the event as a celebration of fashion, style, and the women of Liverpool once again.
‘The future is all about the ‘A’ word.’ (Martin Glenn, ex CEO, United Biscuits)
And whilst we are going heavy on the stats, here are some more from the Harvard Business Review that highlight the impact of greater alignment...
12% higher customer loyalty
16% higher profitability
18% higher productivity
25% less staff turnover in high turnover companies
49% less staff turnover in low turnover companies
37% less absenteeism
So no, CX is not the new ‘P’. But the stats prove that customer experience + alignment is most certainly the formula for success.