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The future of experience: Real examples from CX leaders

By Josh Buchholtz
Two women working in an office at a computer discussing a project.

Advancements with generative AI and LLMs are reigniting focus on customer experience, ease, and satisfaction.

Market leaders recognize the power of putting the customer, and the customer’s experience, at the center of their business strategy to accelerate profit growth and capture market share.

In fact, in their 10-Ks, Amazon (#1 in market segment), T-Mobile (#3 in market segment), and Tesla (#1 in market segment) directly state the impact of CX on their business strategy:

“To increase sales of products and services, we focus on improving all aspects of the customer experience […] and earning customer trust.”

“We have disrupted the wireless communications services industry by actively engaging with and listening to our customers and focusing on eliminating their existing pain points […] we are inspired by a relentless CX focus […] which drives our record-high customer satisfaction levels while enabling operational efficiencies.”

“Our mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. We believe that this mission, along with our […] engineering expertise, vertically integrated […] business model and focus on user experience differentiate us from other companies.”

In this final installment of our Future of Experience series, we bring CX behaviors to life by looking at case studies from industry-leading clients. CX leaders commit to six customer-centric behaviors, individually and collectively, to drive competitive advantage:

  1. Invest in world-class research capabilities to capture, digest, and act on insights across multichannel interactions, inform customer desires, and protect against churn.
  2. Commit to fostering cultures of community, flexibility, and trust across the organization with a customer vision and strategy that’s championed and driven by a curious, collaborative, and agile mindset.
  3. Prioritize effectively to have a shared understanding of the highest-value customer segments to drive decision-making.
  4. Champion test-and-learn by building nimble teams who commit to rapid prototyping approaches rooted in desirability, feasibility, and viability prioritization frameworks.
  5. Drive decisions with data by committing to an analytical mindset and building data-driven behaviors to support customer decisions.
  6. Build experience engines that drive predictive and personal touch points to create experiences and targeted outreach that is meaningful to the individual customer.

How do CX leaders live these six key behaviors?

1. Invest in research

CX leaders invest in tools and capabilities to capture, predict, and act on customer intent. They create capabilities to stitch together interactions across touchpoints to inform product, service, and experience strategies.

We worked with a global cruise operator to shift sales from a traditional agent-booking experience into digital channels. To drive this strategy, our client needed to expand its customer research and insights capabilities to better understand its path to conversion. Doing so would drive tailored next-best-action recommendations and protect against moments of churn.

The client aligned its customer insights strategy to critical moments in its customer journey for two prioritized brands and integrated capabilities across analytics, chat, reporting, and issue management to create a comprehensive customer insights platform. Next, they developed a training and change management program to activate the system cross-functionally. The outcome was an end-to-end operating system to inform decision-making across the enterprise. By combining primary research, data, and technology, the operator enabled effective visualization and action on customer insights in near real time.

A global airplane manufacturer knew its B2B customers expected seamless customer experiences across service lines, influenced by B2C experiences. The manufacturer also knew successfully delivering these experiences would drive revenue growth through retention, product cross-sell and up-sell, and efficiency across its supply chain. However, the client was missing capabilities to track customer data across the journey and evaluate customer intent across channels. They knew this data was critical to informing the unique experiences required to drive revenue predictably and efficiently.

The executive team invested in comprehensive customer research and reporting capabilities across multiple channels and businesses to enable meaningful customer data segmentation. This required mapping customer data inputs, improving data hygiene, developing dashboards, and operationalizing reporting across the organization to connect executive and business teams together under a unified vision.

CX leaders should:

  • Execute research and customer data efforts across the full customer journey, with a focus on predicting customer intent
  • Operationalize customer insights into critical team workflows across the organization

2. Commit to fostering cultures of community, flexibility, and trust

CX leaders know success is impossible without clear and aligned goals. They focus relentlessly on aligning teams across practices to a shared set of goals enabled by customer-centric, cross-functional operating cultures.

medical equipment company that anchors its business strategy and team mentality around customer-centricity was in a unique position when COVID-19 increased demand for its products while a leading competitor was undergoing a major recall. In response, they quickly aligned and prioritized customer-centric experience opportunities to drive value for their patients and providers. They found success in four ways:

  1. They prioritized buy-in and alignment from stakeholders across levels of the business in collaborative workshops that enabled complex groups to co-create the vision for their customer experience.
  2. They mobilized action plans, leveraging workshop outputs to develop operating model priorities to enable data-driven journeys.
  3. They created a new customer experience leader position to drive strategy and coordinate CX across the company. This leader was empowered to drive goals vertically and horizontally throughout the business.
  4. They empowered teams through clear governance and accountability over critical journeys. This focus and trust ensured the right teams were equipped and coordinated across the journey while maintaining a centralized ownership structure for success.

CX leaders should:

  • Align cross-functional teams to unified objectives across the organization
  • Put the customer at the center of your business by integrating customer-centricity into the operating model

3. Prioritize customer segments and needs

Market leaders prioritize customer segments based on data-driven analysis from multiple sources across the business. They socialize and drive alignment on priorities so all employees understand targets and goals.

global rental car company realized how little they understood their customer segments and what limited data was applied to targeting and revenue strategies. Segment archetypes were anecdotally defined. They differentiated segments based on singular variables.

This client recognized the need for a data-driven approach to segmentation and prioritization. They sought primary research of 11,000 drivers to better understand customers and their needs to inform segment-specific strategies. We helped the client create 24 unique statistical models, which unveiled six segment categories. Data synthesis created a unified and compelling customer view for business leaders to rally around, informing new marketing and sales strategies in target markets. Precision and probability increased with clearer focus on the end targets.

CX leaders should:

  • Prioritize segments by analyzing customer value potential; align teams to support the most important customer groups
  • Embrace multi-method customer data collection to enhance customer understanding and validate key findings to inform prioritization

4. Test and learn

CX leaders commit to building cultures of data. A global car rental company wanted to connect its fleet of 650K+ vehicles to the cloud to enable seamless self-service employee and customer experiences. To start, we helped the client build a vision for customer-centric data strategy. We then designed data-driven experiences to optimize rental lot logistics. One experience instructed employees where each car should be parked for maximum efficiency and customer value. We normalized reservation, rental, and fleet data for analysis and applied two ML algorithms to inform a new customer-centric rental process. The feedback loop of the algorithm informed continuous improvement and powered real-time dashboards.

This approach brought data to the forefront of the employee mindset. It required carefully architected and managed data systems to execute effectively, which were enabled through a commitment to building data culture capabilities.

5. Drive decisions with data

Market leaders move with speed. They create cultures in which moving fast with purpose is encouraged, energizing, and interactive. They understand the value of rapid prototyping and customer testing to go to market and to scale.

global tax technology company was mired in inefficient research processes: valuable resources spent hours reading emails and digesting information rather than driving strategic value. The organization had a vision for a future where resources researched and planned around complex legal updates rather than screen content for a myriad of tax changes.

The client took a test-and-learn approach leveraging AI and advanced analytics to solve the problem. They started with a series of workshops to define their experience strategy. They focused on how processes, people, and technology should interact to deliver value to customers and internal researchers. The client prioritized pain points into a backlog of machine learning (ML) use cases, which they piloted to market with a continuous loop of customer and researcher input. The iterative approach created a hybrid cloud solution integrated across eight ML models. When complete, models drove predictions that helped reduce employee effort from hours to minutes.

CX leaders should:

  • Foster a company culture where experimentation is celebrated and failure is accepted as part of the process
  • Develop operations that support teams’ ability to test, learn, iterate, and scale validated solutions
  • Empower teams with a unified vision of the CX to decentralize decision-making and remove operational bottlenecks

6. Build experience engines

Recent investments in identity resolution, predictive and prescriptive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have empowered CX leaders to begin developing in-the-moment, channel-agnostic, real-time experiences that are relevant, unique, and meaningful across mediums.

Advancements in large language models (LLMs) and generative AI capabilities are heightening the opportunity footprint. However, building near-real-time experience relevancy requires a sophisticated set of capabilities. The future is in experience engines, but we recommend starting small and following a prescriptive, use-case-driven roadmap.

The collections team at a large financial institution struggled bringing in past-due debts. The team had no formal program in place to engage with its customers and technology deficiencies created challenges with accepting payments from willing customers. The organization sought innovative ways to use technology to drive customer conversations, increase payments, build trust, and educate customers.

The team began experimenting with digital solutions to engage with customers in real time, 24/7. The client tested a digital person concept to build empathy and consistency into customer conversations. The digital person connected into the client’s CRM and data architecture systems to inform a more complete view of real-time experiences, building a continuous loop of engagement and feedback. Customer testing by use case is ongoing but shows an opportunity to leverage data and next-gen technology to create more meaningful and personalized experiences to solve customer needs.

CX leaders should:

Leverage sophisticated data infrastructure to identify intent signals and deliver in-the-moment, personalized experiences across customer touchpoints

Build experience roadmaps based on current and desired capabilities to scale with time

Inform all product and service experience opportunities with customer research

Parting thoughts

CX is shifting to become more optimized, dynamic, and data-driven. We hope these leader behaviors will serve as a guide for businesses to capture market share by consistently delighting customers.

Advancements with generative AI and LLMs are reigniting focus on customer experience, ease, and satisfaction. While use cases are accelerating and becoming more advanced, the foundational principles described throughout this series can serve as a blueprint for success.

This blog post was originally published here.

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