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Top highlights and 4 key takeaways from Forrester’s CX North America

Jun 29, 2022

Top highlights and 4 key takeaways from Forrester’s CX North America

Earlier this month, members of SMG’s leadership team headed to Nashville for Forrester’s CX North America event—joining Forrester Analysts, industry thought leaders, and fellow peers to share the latest in customer experience (CX) research and program best practices.

Here are some highlights and our top takeaways from the conference.

The key to a great customer experience is (still) your front line

In his session, “How to Keep and Grow Frontline Service Workers: The Key to CX Delivery,” Forrester Principal Analyst Craig Le Clair discussed how, with an increasingly high demand for service workers putting business continuity and the customer experience at risk, there’s value in focusing on the employee experience (EX)—specifically with employee productivity.

A key contributor to CX improvement is positive EX. Engaged and motivated employees do their best work for customers. In fact, engaged employees have helped organizations drive results like these:

  • 10% increase in customer loyalty + engagement
  • 21% increase in profitability
  • 40% reduction in turnover

Le Clair also discussed how automation, combined with a vibrant EX program, ultimately drives CX, profitability, and employee retention. And organizations are paying attention to the trend. Automation—specifically to move and deliver physical items (e.g., self-driving delivery robots, internal warehouse movement)—is currently collecting over 50% of venture investment for the 11 automation categories in the study.

Key takeaway #1: Prioritizing employee engagement pays off—with more loyal customers

Le Clair’s stance that a great customer experience starts with engaged employees is spot on. In fact, that’s the philosophy SMG was founded on. The Service Profit Chain is a progression that demonstrates how engaged employees are more loyal, helping create highly satisfied and loyal customers. And highly satisfied, loyal customers lead directly to growth in sales and profits.

With that in mind, automation can unburden the front line, but you’ve got to invest in the right places—and you can’t ignore the need for physical, present employees. Leverage CX and journey mapping to help identify the right human touchpoints versus areas where automation could be applied. 

Additionally, all experiences need to feel human and genuine, whether they are automated or not. Although service expectations have evolved, employees have (and will always have) a huge impact on CX. If you’re not focused on achievable EX improvement in the field, you will fall behind.

Turning consumers into loyal customers means fixing the potholes

Forrester VP – Research Director Mike Proulx discussed approaching consumers more like constituents. Loyal customers spend over 50% more than other customers—and one of the most critical ways to turn consumers into devotees is to “fix the potholes.” 

This means sweating the small stuff in the customer experience—immediately and with clarity. And usually the most important issues involve the service your employees are offering. The top reason consumers lose trust in brands is bad customer service. 

But as Proulx pointed out, many companies aren’t fixing their potholes. Why? 26% said they don’t understand their customers’ friction points, 35% said they are too resource constrained and have other priorities, and 46% said they just feel it will cost more to improve CX versus the benefit. 

Key takeaway #2: Journey mapping is essential to identifying cross-channel gaps

Understanding your customer journey is the only way to truly uncover the potholes causing friction in the customer experience. As customer journeys expand across new and evolving touchpoints, consumer expectations and behaviors can change rapidly—often shifting with each point of contact.

That’s why brands need to capture consumer feedback and behavioral data across all channels—to understand the motivations and meet the expectations of their customers.

Harley Manning—founder of the CX practice—reveals the 5 universal truths of CX

Forrester VP – Research Director Harley Manning founded the CX practice in 1998 at Forrester and grew it to the mass coverage it is today. He closed out the event announcing his retirement, while identifying the 5 universal truths that all companies should keep at the core of their CX, and 4 business imperatives that are crucial to achieving those truths.

Key takeaway #3: Brands must chart a consistent, sustainable path to program ROI

Organizations should take to heart Manning’s point of “delivering superior CX requires real business discipline” and not underestimate the importance of CX program ROI. “Revenue and profitability are what drive c-suite executives, and that can be proven.”

Manning established a foundational understanding of how CX is critical to a business; however, knowing this and implementing it are two completely different challenges. A one-time analysis of your CX strategy may help you understand how you are doing at the time. But without a robust and ongoing customer experience discipline woven into the fabric of your company to continuously change, test, and analyze customer perceptions, you will quickly lose focus. 

As Manning said, “Confident truths are useless without confident actions.” Showing how those changes directly impact revenue and profitability is critical to translating action into results.

The customer experience has not improved and continues to be below par

This was a recurring theme throughout the event and was highlighted again in Forrester’s latest report: The US Customer Experience Index Rankings, 2022. According to this report, “Companies failed to maintain CX quality achieved earlier in the pandemic.”

Additionally, brands that led with emotion delivered stronger experiences. “Nineteen percent of brands saw a significant score decrease”—the only industry to improve was the investment industry.

Key takeaway #4: To win customer loyalty, brands must place value above all else

With inflation fears affecting consumer spend habits, value is under an even greater microscope, and consumers are reprioritizing where they will spend their time and money. But value doesn’t always mean cost—and consumers are still willing to spend more for quality customer experience (in fact 86% are willing).

Do you know what your customers value? Do you know how they are judging the customer experience? Brands who want to pull ahead need to understand what value means to their customers and use that to differentiate. Quality and value will be critical to growth for the remainder of 2022 + 2023 for brands who want to improve CX.

Innovate your XM strategy for maximum business results

We love these opportunities to gather with experts from the CX industry and share in the latest and greatest of experience management (XM). Connections like these help fuel our client success strategy, ensuring we’re providing brands with innovations that continuously advance their XM programs.

Interested in chatting more about these trends? Request a time to connect with our team.