What are successful customer experience leaders doing differently to drive CX success?

Research reveals nine crucial factors integral to customer experience management success

Only 23% of B2B companies see a significant return from their CX investment. What's this high-achieving group doing differently?

Here are nine little-known factors for CX success drawn from the latest industry research:

1. Reciprocity

Finding out your customer needs and wants is CX management 101. But there’s a secret to taking this to the next level in order to deliver CX success – and that’s reporting back to your customers. Reporting back can be as simple as sending them an email outlining the key issues and explaining what actions the company will take to make their experience better. The fact that you’ve listened, created a plan and are sharing it with them will make them feel valued - and even indebted (the principle of reciprocity).

2. The post-sales experience

This is of utmost importance to B2B customers (45% of whom don’t get the value they’re promised after the sale), and yet most of us are ignoring it. However, the high-achieving 23% aren't: these successful B2B CX leaders cite after-sales support and service as the most important part of the customer journey, and prioritise it two to three times more than their peers. They know loyal customers are made after the sale.

“Most marketing organisations have people focused on demand, but almost no-one focused on supporting customers after they buy"

Megan Heuer, VP research at SiriusDecisions

3. Disruption creation

CX leaders actively defend their business from new types of competitors. They don’t do this by playing catch-up – they find out what their customers need (often before the customers know it themselves) and proactively employ the customer experience to become the disruptor instead of being disrupted. After all, B2B buyers are more willing to pay a premium for a valuable service that can’t be found elsewhere.

4. Emotion

Emotion is the strongest driver of loyalty, and yet is mostly ignored. McKinsey research shows that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend a product and purchase it again. That’s a lot of love. And where does this emotion come from? From every single point of contact with your customers. That’s why it’s so important to treat your employees right, so their love of your brand spills over into their work – whether it’s passionate copywriting, personal social media interactions, or caring customer service staff.

“Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day, it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most”

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

5. Tech 

Successful CX leaders recognise the critical role digital technologies play in delivering outstanding customer service. The top 23% allocate considerably more of their CX budget to technology-enabled customer experiences than their peers (67% versus 41%), and are twice as likely to believe their digital investments give them a competitive advantage. This doesn’t mean they're neglect traditional channels though: instead, they have a dual, ‘digital-physical’ focus that is tuned to the multi-channel customer agenda and rigorously tracked.

6. Internal alignment

Internally, collaboration across departments and leadership alignment is also crucial. For successful CX leaders, this is a priority, not an afterthought. Strategic direction comes from the top, and departments are aligned to deliver on a single, clear vision. Integration across departments is also facilitated by technology – with successful CX leaders considering digital integration across sales and service channels two to three times more important than their peers.

7. Employee skills, training and happiness 

Having the right skills to deliver on CX management is critical to its success. The top 23% acquire the skills they need through a balanced mix of hiring fresh talent and re-training existing employees. Their less successful peers rely more heavily on retraining existing staff to fill new roles (which can lead to the wrong people being shoehorned into vital roles).

Having the right people with the right skills, following a clear CX vision, led by a benevolent, aligned c-suite can lead to that most powerful phenomenon – happy and engaged employees. And these employees are the ones that will translate the CX vision into a customer’s reality. Treat your employees right – empower and incentivise them to translate a clear, unified vision into action, and you’ll also have happy, emotionally engaged customers.

8. Outsourcing 

CX leaders place a far greater emphasis on working with other organisations to create the right customer experience – another way to ensure they have the skills they need to deliver. They then employ relevant incentives and performance monitoring to ensure the desired experience is delivered.

9. Fix the little things 

Sure, the big things matter – but sometimes small things matter just as much. Take customer niggles, for example, those little things that don’t seem so important on their own. What would happen if you fixed all of them? A McKinsey article described how a major IT service provider increased customer loyalty by focusing more intensely on customer experience – specifically the little things. The firm was determined to resolve small incidents which, in the past, it would have ignored. By choosing to resolve all these minor issues, the company saw numerous clients renew their contracts and extend their loyalty. A big result achieved from addressing small issues.