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It's All About Trust: The Importance of CX in 2020

What do CX professionals need to focus on to secure success and investment in their work?

Four out of five companies depend upon the quality of their customer experience (CX) to serve as their primary competitive differentiator, but only 12 percent of consumers feel brands have made significant CX improvements in recent years. Even more discouraging, only 11 percent of consumers feel that brands are doing anything with the feedback they receive. Yet, companies have been investing in CX programs for years. Something isn't working.

For Further Reading:

Achieving Customer Intimacy with Complete Data

5 Ways to Make Better Business Decisions with CX

Data Quality and the Single Customer View 

Why don't customers trust you?

For years, industry experts have talked about "the age of the customer." As we head into a new decade, though, we predict that we're moving beyond that into an age of trust. This will have big implications for companies' relationships with clients and partners. People want to do business with companies they trust -- those that share their values and will act with their best interests at heart. If that's the case, then increased investment in CX should be an easy win, shouldn't it?

Except that it's not working. A recent survey of over 800 CX professionals conducted by Confirmit (the company I work for) found that the number of companies planning to significantly increase their CX spend was decreasing. Our leaders clearly do not "trust" CX to deliver.

Part of the problem is all the attention paid chasing metrics such as Net Promoter Score and the hunger for more customer data that has distracted CX teams. Endless measurement and no action achieve nothing. If CX professionals cannot move on from this focus and start to use real business acumen, investment will dry up.

To drive business change in 2020, CX teams must move beyond talking the talk and actually walk the walk. To truly drive real business change based on customer insights takes serious planning, a range of diverse skills, and evidence of financial success.

What's changing in CX? What do CX professionals need to focus on to secure success and investment in their work?

Focus on Measuring Less, Acting More

Most voice-of-the-customer surveys are sent out with the best of intentions, but that doesn't change the fact that people are getting fed up with them. They simply don't trust that companies are really doing anything with their feedback. In the coming year, CX teams must focus more on connecting other sources of customer data -- such as operational and financial inputs -- so they only need to ask customers for the information they really need. Our survey found that even among leaders in the CX space, only 28 percent of firms are integrating other data sets into their programs.

Of course, you can have all the insight in the world, but you must do something with it. This means empowering people across the business to use the insights that CX teams collect. In our survey, we found only 17 percent of middle managers and just 8 percent of frontline staff are using insights to aid decision making! To be successful, CX teams need to nudge all employees to make some changes in their behavior. In 2020, CX teams that do not drive action will struggle to secure investment.

Focus Less on Vision, More on Business Impact

These are risk-averse times. In 2020, there will be greater pressure than ever for CX to demonstrate return on investment (ROI). To secure their future, CX leaders must identify every area in which they make business impact -- large or small -- to deliver ROI as quickly as possible. This means taking a step back from grand strategic visions and tracking the impact of tactical elements across the business.

A pragmatic approach to ROI is critical to ensure CX survival. This means seeking every opportunity to use customer insight to drive change in areas such as complaints, customer churn, dollars spent, and customer acquisition. This helps to create a customer-centric approach that is vital to delivering the trust that customers crave, and it will provide incremental wins that improve the bottom line.

Confirmit's survey also found leaders in CX (those programs that expect to see a significant increase in budget in the next year) are more than twice as likely to demonstrate ROI over laggards. Coincidence? No. By proving value, CX teams can increase investment and secure the future growth of the program.

Focus Less on "Me" and More on "Us"

One key area for CX leaders to consider is the overall business ecosystem. No company is an island, and your partners are a direct reflection on you. Delivery firms, outsourced contact centers, third-party billing teams -- you need to work with them all to fully understand the customer journey. For many, this will remain on the to-do list until 2021, but for some, it's time to think big!

The Role of CX Leaders Will Change in 2020

Insights will remain core to CX, but successful CX leaders will step up into a role focused on change and execution. The ability to influence people at all levels of the business will be vital. Securing executive buy-in is one of the most important tasks for CX teams. Gaining this support means correlating your CX plans with KPIs that matter to the most senior staff. Successful programs will recognize the importance of influencing the people that matter but also the need to follow through and execute against business goals. The companies that will win on the CX battlefield will be those that step away from the spreadsheets and make things happen.

Although the CX industry faces challenges, the future for CX teams that can prove ROI is bright. The key is to focus on empowering people throughout the business to make decisions based on CX insights, and thinking about trust at every turn. If you can connect CX insights to business goals, you will be able to earn the trust of your customers with the kind of high-quality experiences they demand. Earn the trust of your team by supporting them to make customer-centric decisions and earn the trust of your partners by providing a consistent, coordinated experience to mutual customers.

Here's to great CX in 2020 -- built on trust.

About the Author

Claire Sporton is SVP, customer experience innovation for Confirmit, a leading SaaS vendor for multichannel customer experience, employee engagement, and market research solutions. Claire is responsible for ensuring Confirmit delivers the expertise and technology businesses need. You can contact the author via email or on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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