CX Week 2017: Building Holistic Customer Experiences

Co-Authored by Zach Gerber, Marketing Director & Ben Rogers, Senior Strategist

While CEOs believe their brands are delivering a superior customer experience (80%), only 8% of their customers agree. The customer experience has become choppy, disconnected, and inconsistent. 

More than ever, we’re seeing siloed efforts that continue to build upon this disconnect.

Brands used to be up against their competitors. Now, they’re up against something even more daunting: new customer expectations. And while these expectations are high, they’re also achievable. With 66% of customers choosing to switch brands due to poor customer experiences, we can’t afford to under-deliver.

Each year, we attend the online conference, CX Week, hosted by Qualtrics. Last year, we wrote on how to adopt a customer experience mindset in order to provide a better user experience. We’ve been analyzing, debating, drafting, and editing ever since.

If CX Is So Important Why Isn’t Everyone Doing It?

Companies aren’t exactly ignoring their customers. We see that C-level leadership knows the customer experience is important, in fact, 89% of companies were projected to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by the end of 2016 (Gartner).

So why are so many companies still struggling to deliver on the experience their customers are looking for? Well, it turns out that excelling in this area isn’t so easy. And many who set out to impact organizational change to improve things for the customer, often fail. When this happens, many customers abandon brands for good and turn to competition.

Maybe this is why Qualtrics refers to the process as magic!

magic is a process graphic

Focusing on the customers and their needs is one key aspect to surviving in this modern CX world, but it needs to be done holistically. The McKinsey & Company article, Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Experience, goes into great detail on what potential tripping points may be holding companies back from achieving success. Do you recognize the tendency to do any of these?

·      Defining CX by touchpoints alone.  

·      Failing to segment users and their feedback.

·      Relying on pain points and stated issues.

·      Believing that measurement alone will improve the experience.

·      Only focusing on long-term benefits 2-3 years out.

·      Lack employee engagement and leadership role modeling.

Customers, however, are only one small piece of the larger CX transformation, focusing only on customers will also lead to failure. The larger and maybe unseen portion of the equation is the business and how it must change. Referring back to the magic gear visual, business can be broken up into Leadership, Operations, and Employees.    

"There’s a big difference in a way you might think about customer experience if you’re just focused on fixing what's broken and getting out of the penalty box versus if you truly want to break through and become a customer service leader across industries."

Leading the business forward into this brave new world is arguably the harder part of the process that involves many moving pieces and parts. Every step along the way is a chance to fail and many companies get caught up in their own personal transformation.

·      Focusing on vanity metrics.

·      Segregating benchmarks, measurements, and goals by department.

·      Obsessing on past performance.

·      Neglecting to disseminate research.

·      Failing to engage employees.

·      Leadership not adequately role modeling.

·      Mapping out only long-term benefits.

·      Missing the chance to link to value.

How do we get it right?

How do you elevate the customer experience to a level that customers want and expect? It starts with aligning not only your products, services, and digital experiences, but also an alignment of your people.

Collectively define who your customer is.

We are no longer able to have separate departments thinking about the customer differently. A customer is not equal to site traffic. And we need to imbed true customer insights into every critical business decision we make across each department so that we’re all working towards the same goal. 

cx week graphic

Determine where your customers are talking, and listen.

Customers are rapidly turning to Twitter to resolve their issues. According to Social Bakers, more than 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter. And during the past two years, we’ve seen a 2.5X increase in the number of tweets to brands and their customer service usernames. If you haven’t yet, establish a customer service strategy on social media, and use those findings to support the rest of your customer touchpoints. 

rapid replies can drive 5x revenue

Improve your approach to customer research.

Ben Babock, Head of Research at stresses the importance of building a research culture. “Give everyone in the organization access to research," he exclaims. Confining research findings and even activities to an individual department of job title compounds the silo mentality.

Foster inclusive research by inviting team members to a ‘watch party.’ This is a simple way to introduce basic concepts, make insights accessible, and break down intimidation factors that team members may feel. Once their feet are wet you may find people who once had no interest in research now choosing to actively participate. A watch party can involve viewing a live session or showing highlights from recent findings.

Getting customers in the room is critical to uncovering true insights. We are unable to unlock the power of user data or create powerful customer experiences without first having a person-centric method to our research. 

The customer experience is in jeopardy. Heightened expectations combined with technological advancement have left customers with more choices and decision points than ever before. Brands need to meet customers where they are, not where they think they should be. 

What is your team doing to make your research more inclusive, and your experiences more holistic? 




Zach Gerber

Zach Gerber Marketing Director

Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers Senior Strategist