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How To Overcome CX Stagnation With A Value Chain Framework

by Ryan Hollenbeck Forbes Councils Member
Blue jeans, insurance, meditation classes: No matter what you sell, you’re selling customer experience.
A recent Gartner report found that more than two-thirds of companies compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (CX) — a figure expected to rise. It’s widely known that CX leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards. In its “Predictions 2020” report, Forrester Research found that even a one-point increase in a brand’s CX index score can mean an additional $123 million in revenue for a multichannel bank and up to $879 million in revenue for a mass-market auto brand.
There’s no argument: Good CX drives recommendations, return visits and sales. But while many businesses invest in improving CX, I’ve found that the majority struggle to meet goals or differentiate on experience.
Best-in-class CX organizations know the secret to success: a holistic vision. A CX value chain approach accomplishes that by ensuring a business is listening to all customer signals across all channels, connecting that data and sharing it across all organizational levels — tactical, operational and strategic. It accounts for and links all customer signals, all stakeholders and all necessary customer-organization interactions at every business level.

Be Honest: How Mature Is Your CX Program?

Does your organization treat CX like a first-tier business objective, on par with the product or services you offer? Many don’t. They may listen to customers, but they don’t listen to all customers everywhere in the journey. They have analytics, but they aren’t integrated. They act, but they can’t prioritize actions based on business benefits. The results? They are siloed, myopic and behind the curve in a fast-moving CX environment.
What does that look and feel like for a customer? Let’s imagine an example of someone calling a contact center with a simple request:
Customer: I need to change my address on this utility account. I assume this is an easy fix and expect to only spend a few minutes on the phone to update a form. Simple.
Phone Agent: Yes, I can change your address. I’m in the billing system now, and I’m updating it with your new information. Oh, but there’s one issue. Our marketing system is down, so the billing system can’t share the information. I can change your billing account, but not other mailings or communication we might send to you. That requires another call.
Customer: That’s annoying. This experience is worse than I thought it would be. Your bad system is wasting my time.
One unhappy customer. Worse, the broken system the exchange exposes isn’t remedied, annoying more customers and damaging the company through inefficiencies and employee frustration.

The CX Value Chain Framework

A business would never create five departments to develop products in isolation from each other — siloing strategies and cutting off progress and insight. CX can’t function that way, either.
Manufacturers use a value chain system to add features or capabilities at each step in the process of creating a product. Great CX is created in the same way. A CX value chain enables listening at every customer interaction — websites and apps, contact center, locations, chat, social media, etc. — and initiates action at each organizational level. That means everyone involved in CX, from contact center agents and store employees to chief marketing officers (CMOs) and CEOs, has the right information and works toward the same goals.
Let’s pick up our customer experience scenario with a CX value chain framework in place:
Customer: You can’t change my address in both systems? That’s annoying.
Phone Agent: Sorry. I’ll send you a service coupon for the inconvenience. And our marketing department will contact you as soon as their system is back up — no need for you to call back.
Operational: After the call, the phone agent alerts marketing about the problem. Marketing connects with IT to solve the issue.
Tactical: Someone from marketing contacts the customer to change their address.
Strategic: This issue, which happened several times, is elevated to the CMO and chief experience officer (CXO). A financial report is created laying out the costs associated with account management calls. They propose an automated, digital process for updating all elements of customer accounts.
Six months later, the organization documents a decrease in contact center costs and an improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) score.
A CX value chain framework emphasizes data sharing and coordinated action. It leverages advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning, and it makes executive buy-in a key element of the program. It allows CX leaders to operate within a connected system, delivering value to customers at every channel and from every layer of the organization:
• Listening Program: Capture customer voices, behaviors and transactions on a single platform to enable data amplification and deeper CX insights.
• Tactical Response: Use feedback and alerts to improve issue identification, first-contact resolution, service standards and satisfaction.
• Operational Improvement: Give branch leaders, contact center managers and digital product leaders deep, actionable insight to make broader improvements.
• Strategic Prioritization: Give high-level decision-makers predictive insight into business scenarios like future contact center volume, e-commerce sales, and CSAT and NPS measures.

Best-In-Class CX Maturity Increases Satisfaction At Every Stage  

As organizations advance their CX maturity levels, the CX value chain framework can help ensure return on investment (ROI) and improvement happen continually, not just at the end state. Each maturity phase incorporates deeper cultural support and responsibility, additional metrics, more sophisticated data collection and analysis, and dependable data socialization processes.
It establishes a logical approach to CX for the organization, creating a foundation on top of which layers are added so that the end state is comprehensive, intelligent, gapless and achievable.
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