You know that one competitor that you’re constantly chasing, and you feel like they’re always just a few steps ahead? They may be in the lead because they have made improving their Customer Experience (CX) a top priority in their business. According to Forrester Research, companies considered to be CX leaders consistently outperformed CX laggards in the market from 2007 to 2014 — and by a lot. Those market leaders had a 107.5 percent cumulative total return between 2007 and 2014, compared to a return of only 27.6 percent for those considered “laggards” on Forrester’s CX Index.
The report also indicated that improving CX is the #1 priority for executives this year. To achieve this goal, the once segregated business functions of marketing and IT must unite for the greater good of CX. CIOs and CMOs alike are being held responsible for delivering business (and customer) value. Companies that are considered CX leaders have been putting their money where their mouth is for years now. Their investments in the right people and technologies that align with the customer-centric agenda are now paying dividends — literally.
Shaping your IT strategy in the “Age of the Customer”
We already know how drastically customer expectations have changed over the last 5 years or so. Businesses are now expected to think mobile-first, and provide integrated products and services that fit into their customers’ digital lifestyles. But it can be difficult for many organizations to keep up with these high expectations, and the seemingly endless need for newer and better technology can be daunting. CIOs must rethink their tech strategy and invest in a more agile model with a CX focus. Think of it this way: your customers are the sun and your business is the earth — they keep your business alive, while you make sure everything you do revolves around them.
According to Forrester, it’s important for CIOs to understand where their customers are headed in their journey, and to meet them there with digital assets to enhance the experience. IT teams are tasked with choosing solutions that are built around that concept, while still fitting in with the organization’s current and future portfolio. “It requires an architecture that is at once flexible, agile, and secure — and developed from the outside in, not from the infrastructure out. To achieve this, your enterprise architects must be embedded into your CX initiatives from the outset.” Sometimes, this may mean letting go of the constraints of your legacy systems, and embracing technologies — like cloud platforms — that fit those criteria. Breaking up is hard to do, but your customers don’t want your old baggage interfering with their relationship with you.
Innovate with crowdsourcing
You may be thinking “easier said than done” when it comes to implementing strategies to improve your Customer Experience. After all, not every company has an IT budget like that of Zappos or Starbucks (both of which are known for their CX). But some of the work involved may be accomplished more easily than you think. Developing digital assets that will take your CX to the next level can be done quickly and affordably with crowdsourcing. Things like programming, design, architecture, and code optimization can all be done by some of the world’s top talent. Projects (and parts of projects) can be done at the same time, giving companies a buffet of innovative ideas to choose from, and an end product that can make an immediate impact on CX.
Forrester’s CX Index is based on 3 key questions:
- How good is a company’s current Customer Experience?
- Why is the Customer Experience quality what it is?
- What should a company do to improve?
These are great questions to ask yourself and your customers if you want to gauge your company’s own CX performance. Ask them (often) what you can do better to improve their experience and really listen, or you will constantly be chasing competitors who do.