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The "CX" acronym has taken on new life over the past couple of years. What started with conducting surveys to retroactively measure customers' experiences with a business has evolved to include an influx of new technology and, for many, a companywide focus on customer experience.

Exceptional digital customer experiences are no longer just a nice-to-have. Customers want instant service outside of the schedule and queues of a call center. However, delivering digital CX quickly is often a struggle because of point technologies that don't work well together and the changing nature of customer preferences—problems that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Customer experience drives over 66% of customer loyalty, according to Gartner—more than brand and price combined. It's no surprise that businesses are doubling down on innovation for great digital experiences. And when 33% of customers say they'd walk away from a brand they love after just one bad interaction, according to research by PWC, organizations don't have much room for error.

So, how has changing CX affected the role of the chief experience officer (CXO)? Here are three things CX professionals need to know to stay relevant as CX continues to evolve.

1. Today's Expectations for CX

Digital acceleration in customer service will only increase because we have become less reliant on in-person experiences, partly as a result of the pandemic and partly because of the overall rise of better technology across industries.

Nearly 50% of people say that technology plays a large role in their everyday lives, according to a study by Accenture. That poses a challenge to companies that have not integrated tech developments into the customer experience segments of their business.

After such a large shift from in-person to digital, maintaining trust and transparency with customers on the ground level is more important than ever. More than 60% of customers say their go-to solution for simple questions is a digital self-service tool, American Express research found. To continue meeting customers' expectations, experiences need to be digital and quick, but also personable and human—which isn't something customers always receive through the native app on a mobile device.

Delivering great digital self-service requires active and timely two-way interactions across multiple channels (voice, chat, text, Web) that integrate with customer systems of record. By connecting your customer data to your CX, you can create more personalized experiences that allow customers to take action or get answers on their own.

2. The Role of the CXO: From Measurement to Action

In the last few years, evaluating CX has meant surveys that record and analyze customer service experiences with a business, and measure "How was your experience?" That's why companies such as Qualtrics and Momentive—formerly Survey Monkey—have thrived.

Brand loyalty is fading, and customer experience now drives the future of business, analysts such as The Pedowitz Group point out. Many businesses already understand that, as shown by the 30% increase in chief experience officers (CXO) from 2017 to 2019 reported by Gartner.

For CXOs, measuring customer feedback isn't enough. Effective CX leaders need to not only measure and identify areas of improvement but also deploy customer experiences with agile teams that can test and innovate per customers' changing preferences. That requires new organizational structures, new processes, and new technology.

3. How to Build a Successful CX Team

To continue to grow in their role, CXOs will need to recruit a team of people from a mixture of disciplines, including data science, design, customer service operations, and IT. That CX teams should identify CX "hot spots," access CX data, and make trusted CX recommendations across Sales, Service, and Support. CXOs can be that cross-cutting authority within the organization's different departments to execute continuity and flow across all teams.

CXOs also need to be people who understand technology and who also have a grasp on customer experience, so that they can bring a unique and powerful perspective on how to integrate those two areas of expertise.

If they are to continue to compete, businesses will continue to invest in the tools and platforms necessary to meet customers' expectations for digital customer service, and CXOs should be mindful of ongoing tech acceleration.

* * *

Customer experience is a priority that has been set by the marketplace. Many of the technology-first companies of today didn't invent the grocery store, stock brokerage, car dealership, or sunglasses shop; rather, they reinvented the customer experience and reaped the rewards.

2020 brought challenges that most businesses had never seen before, and it's certainly not the last time the way we engage with customers will be turned on its head. For established businesses, the stakes have never been higher in rethinking organization flexibility, agility, and scalability in the world of customer experience and the role of the CXO.

More Resources on CX and the CXO Role

Building Better Customer Outcomes With a Customer Experience Quality Framework

CX in B2B Marketing: Top-of-Mind Strategy in 2020

Customer Experience Management Isn't Enough: Three Steps to Experience Improvement

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image of Stephen Ehikian

Stephen Ehikian is a co-founder and the CEO of Airkit, a digital CX automation company.

LinkedIn: Stephen Ehikian