IPC offers consulting services that help organizations drive business value by optimizing the customer experience.

The customer experience has become a key focus of organizations in a wide range of industries. It’s easy to understand why. A recent study by the Temkin Group found that organizations can see a 70 percent increase in revenue within three years of investing in a customer experience strategy.

The customer experience is at a crossroads, however. Despite much enthusiasm at the executive level, and with massive investments in CX teams and initiatives over the past decade, only one in four companies is able to quantify CX benefits or gain a competitive edge.

Those are the findings of a rigorous quantitative study of more than 200 CX initiatives by CustomerThink. The research goal was to understand what differentiates winning CX initiatives to help CX leaders improve their odds of success. The study found that the majority (58 percent) of CX initiatives are still in a “developing” stage — seeing signs of progress but unable to clearly demonstrate business value to top management.

CustomerThink Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief Bob Thompson, author of the research study, says the results are a wakeup call for CX leaders. “While a lot of good work is being done, three out of four CX leaders are at risk of losing funding due to the lack of a compelling business case.”

IPC can help organizations develop a CX strategy that nurtures the customer relationship from initial awareness and discovery, to cultivation, purchase and service, and loyalty and advocacy. IPC’s experts can then help organizations execute on that strategy with advanced communications, analytics and automated tools.

More than Customer Service

According to the 2018 Aspect Consumer Experience Index survey, two-thirds of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a great customer experience. In fact, 31 percent said they’d be willing to pay as much as 10 percent more for exceptional service. However, it’s important to recognize that the customer experience goes beyond traditional concepts of “customer service.”

Gartner has described the customer experience as the “perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” In other words, it’s the sum of all interactions between a customer and your organization across multiple touchpoints over the course of the relationship. This includes all direct and indirect contact before, during and after a transaction.

Direct contact is typically initiated by the customer — placing a call, visiting a website or place of business, sending a text or instant message, making a purchase, etc. Indirect contact could involve exposure to the organization through an ad, online review, word-of-mouth recommendation, or an unplanned interaction with an employee.

“Organizations need to ensure that every direct contact is as frictionless as possible,” said Eric Bowling, CEO & Chief Customer Officer, IPC. “Is the contact center easy to navigate? Are customers presented with a variety of communication channels, all of which are integrated to enable seamless transitions? Are business processes streamlined?

“When organizations get direct contacts right, positive indirect contacts will follow. They will have developed loyal customer advocates and dedicated employees who champion the brand.”

From Process Improvement to Differentiator

But that’s only the beginning. To gain real business value from CX initiatives, organizations need to go beyond basic customer service practices to delivering unique customer experiences.

“Unfortunately, for the vast majority of companies, the CX strategy can be summed up in two words: process improvement,” said Thompson. “While a necessary first step in many cases, CX leaders must look beyond this ‘find and fix’ paradigm and focus more attention on improving customer journeys. Because that is CX’s real payoff.”

Bowling agrees.

“Organizations need to take a hard look at process improvement and leverage automation wherever possible. But then they need to look strategically at ways to create a differentiated customer experience,” he said. “IPC can help organizations develop innovative ways to delight their customers.”

According to the CustomerThink study, organizations need to execute more fully on the five core CX management practices — customer feedback, journey mapping, brand alignment, business case and executive engagement. They also need to invest more in the CX skills needed to drive change, create innovative experiences and measure success, and they must support CX initiatives with the right technologies and systems for customer analytics and omnichannel interactions.

“IPC has a proven track record of success helping organizations design and implement omnichannel communications platforms, and integrate them with artificial intelligence, Internet of Things solutions and other emerging technologies,” Bowling said. “Our team can help organizations maximize the value of their CX initiatives through a holistic approach.”