Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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If delivering high-quality customer experience (CX) was important to begin with, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a top priority for companies large and small. The path to CX maturity is not without its challenges, and it helps for an organization to have an objective view of where they currently stand along this path. With this in mind, Zendesk recently partnered with Enterprise Strategy Group to build a framework around CX maturity and CX success.

A survey was conducted with over 1000 CX leaders and managers across North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region to understand their investments in and post-pandemic approaches towards customer experience. From the findings of the survey, ESG developed a CX Maturity Scale to classify organizations based on how they use technology, data and their customer support teams to drive better success. It classified organizations into three categories – Starters, Risers and Champions – in ascending order of CX maturity. The traits that consistently set Champions apart from Risers and Starters were a top-down approach to building a CX culture, data-centric KPIs, maintaining suitable staffing levels, the use of automation and conscious financial investment in CX.

Based on the study, a clear and significant link was observed between mature CX capabilities and increased success in business areas like market share, increased customer spend and pivoting processes over the last six months. For instance, Champions at midsize and enterprise level were observed to be 3.3 times more likely than Risers and Starters to have grown their customer base over the last six months, which went up to 3.6 times for Champions at the small-business level. Moreover, Champions at midsize and enterprise level were 8.7 times more likely to have boosted customer spend, while small-business Champions were 9.2 times more likely. The rapid transition to remote work at the start of the pandemic was another area of distinction – Champions in midsize and enterprise-level businesses were 4.9 times more successful at the pivot, while Champions in SMBs were 7.8 times more successful.

From these findings, it is evident that the path to CX maturity requires a future-oriented approach where CX spending is viewed as a priority investment. Many companies might have only vague ideas of where they want to go with CX, while others might be further along in their strategies. Regardless of where an organisation is, there are three focus areas that every company must embrace in order to boost CX growth.

Agility

According to the report, nearly two-thirds of small businesses (65%) and over three-quarters of midsize and enterprise-level businesses (78%) said that customer-centric agility is now a higher priority. What this calls for is an approach where organizations put their customers first whenever taking business decisions, be they about staffing, support, communication channels or the product itself. A crucial component of this is data analysis – the report showed that nearly half the Champions review their metrics daily, so that they know what’s working and what isn’t.

Agent empowerment

Support agents are often the first point of contact that a customer has with the organization, which is why CX Champions are observed to set their agents up for success as strategic partners, not just one-off troubleshooters. This means investing in agent training and giving them the tools they need to excel at their jobs. The payoffs from this investment are clear – at Champion organizations, agents handled nearly double the number of requests of Starters and had an average resolution time that was 34% faster.

Meeting customer expectations

An important trait displayed by Champions was that they viewed CX as a competitive differentiator. This meant that they were willing to make the necessary investments to design low-effort customer experiences that reduce query resolution time and provide the right answers. As a result, Champions are more than twice as likely as Starters to report total resolution times of under an hour, and their first response time was found to be an hour quicker than that of starters. Building a low-effort customer experience requires giving customers the information they want, when they want it – be it through a library of knowledge base articles, a community forum for questions or the ability to quickly escalate from self-service to agent assistance. The elimination of guesswork and the accuracy of the responses boosts the customer experience, which makes it easier for the organization to retain customers.

When designing their CX strategy, it may be tempting to prioritize one and deal with the rest later. Focusing on all three is essential to true CX success – it is actually quite difficult to excel at one without investing in the others. CX maturity calls for an all-in, value-over-cost approach that pays off in the long term. Take it from the Champions – 78% of which were confident in their company’s future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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