As you’ll hopefully be aware, next month (27th June) brings with it the return of our annual analytics and conversion conference at Bath’s Apex Hotel.

We’re incredibly excited about our programme and speaker lineup for 2019. With that in mind, we’ll be building up to the event with a series of in-depth interviews with the industry experts who will be joining us to deliver the conference.

First up is our first speaker on the day, Customer Experience (CX) consultant, Alan Colville.

Alan has spent almost two decades in a variety of roles; the CX guy at large companies like BT and Virgin Media, a UX designer for digital agencies, founder of a web start-up and part of an international cooperative of designers and developers.

If the below whets your appetite for finding out more about CX and its importance, Alan will be giving a talk at our analytics and conversion conference on 27th June.

To find out more and get your tickets today, click here >>>

1. In not too many words, please tell us what you do…

As a Customer Experience (CX) consultant, my work is all about measurably making services useful, usable and desirable for users, and efficient and effective for organisations.

Recently, I’ve brought customer-driven research, strategy and design to FTSE 100 companies, Arm and Rentokil Initial. Right now, I’m helping a Russell Group University reimagine and design the end-to-end experience for their students and staff.

2. How important is customer experience? And what can it do for brands?

Digital has created new expectations. Customers expect better experiences, powered by better systems. The changing connection between people and business, enabled by digital, has transformed existing business models and creates disruption.

Like wildfire, this disruption is sweeping through all sectors of business. As technology proliferates, brands have no choice but to improve the experiences.

“When customers have a good Customer Experience, they are 2.5x more likely to make additional purchases than if they had a very poor experience.”
CX Efforts & ROI, Temkin Group 2018

By 2020, CX will be the key brand differentiator over price or product (Walker Research). We are in the age of the customer. Brands that take a customer-centric approach to cultivate loyalty, based on better understanding customer needs, are the ones that are increasing differentiation, sales, retention, loyalty and reducing costs.

Increased revenue a study from LSE shows revenue goes up 1% when your NPS increases by 7%

3. Given its importance, why do so many CX initiatives fail?

I’ve seen a real appetite for change and better CX from business leaders. Yet, according to Forrester research, 81% of organisations have seen their CX initiatives fail in the last three years, and just 25% of CX programmes actually improve the customer experience.

Here are five reasons I repeatedly see:

  1. Organisational barriers - eConsultancy found that ‘two-thirds of companies accept that organisational structure is the biggest barrier to customer experience’.
  2. Dabbling in CX - failing to make CX a fundamental part of business strategy, supported with commitment and continuity of senior people.
  3. Failing to engage employees - happy, engaged employees help create happy, loyal customers.
  4. Marathon not a sprint - great CX doesn’t just happen, certainly not quickly. It takes planning, hard work and unwavering commitment. All too often, businesses appease themselves by doing small, tactical CX initiatives, which fail over time.
  5. Transformation as a destination - rather than it being a way of working, that allows businesses to be flexible and adaptable in order to steer themselves in a new direction.

As ING’s Bart Schlatmann put it, “Transformation is not just moving an organisation from A to B, because once you hit B, you need to move to C, and when you arrive at C, you probably have to start thinking about D.”

4. What are the most common CX challenges your clients face?

My clients are undergoing unprecedented change driven by technology, rising customer expectations and competition. Many are changing to emulate the speed, dynamism and customer centricity of digital players.

Standing still isn’t an option, and the biggest challenges and blockers are:

  1. Breaking down organisational structure - to enable better communication, collaboration and outcomes across teams, the business and for customers.
  2. The fight for talent - one of the biggest blockers to delivering great CX is finding the people with the skills to do it. Outsourcing CX is not a long-term solution, so I spend much of my time mentoring, training and helping build in-house teams.
  3. Consistency across channels - the customer journey is increasingly erratic, with 20% more touch points each year, which is even more reason to map and understand it in order to deliver consistent messaging and experiences across channels.
  4. New ways of working and thinking - with so many new, agile ways of working and thinking, it’s difficult for businesses to know what to do and how to do it. Understanding UX, CX, Agile and Design Thinking, for example, is challenging for businesses and can lead to poor implementation of these approaches and techniques.
  5. Data paralysis - with so much data, businesses can see what’s happening, but struggle to know why. Getting to actionable insight that gives confidence and clarity to the business to know what to do can be hard.

5. If you could focus on only one element of CX, what would it be and why?

Increasingly, I see business challenges through the lens of customer journeys. A customer journey visualises what customers do, their needs and perspectives throughout their interaction and relationship with an organisation.

Built collaboratively, based on insight, journey maps are a CX power tool. They bring insight to life, tie together data from multiple channels, uncover opportunities and un-met needs and critically are a great way to galvanise the business around and overcome organisational barriers.

Building a shared understanding of the customer journey can be the single most important element of CX. Once you accept that it’s never done and there’s no CX silver bullet, just an ongoing commitment to observation, insight and continuous improvement.