Customer Experience – What We’re Hearing

Last year, I spent time reflecting on the state of Customer Experience (CX) after attending multiple CX conferences and events in rapid succession. At the time, many clients were asking:

  1. “How do I learn more about my customers’ needs and expectations?”
  2. “How do I gain support internally for investments in CX?”
  3. “In a world of rapid change, how do we move faster to make a CX impact?”

Those questions are perpetual in many ways – but as I, and many of our North Highland CX team members return from a week at the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Insight Exchange, there is a sense of a changing tide in the CX profession.

The annual CXPA Insights Exchange brings together over 300 CX professionals to connect, learn and share best practices. At the event, you’ll find CX representatives and professionals from leading Fortune 500 brands, emerging companies, CX measurement and management technology and software vendors, and leading professional services firms (like North Highland). North Highland is proud to be a gold sponsor of the CXPA, which allows us to support the advancement of CX as a profession and see the evolution of CX in practice.

Two of North Highland’s leading CX experts had the privilege of sharing their point of view with CX professionals from around the globe last week. Lisa Morris, North Highland’s Employee Experience Lead, spoke on ‘The Making of Employee Experiences’ and Joni Roylance, our CX Enablement Lead, led a presentation on ‘CX Culture – An Ontological Approach.’ Lisa and Joni introduced case studies that illustrated how North Highland has helped organizations transform their Employee Experience and enable a customer-centric culture.

Undoubtedly, there is a growing recognition that the culture of an organization and the employees themselves are critical to CX. Cultivating the right culture and developing a sustained state of employee engagement continues to be a shared challenge for leading organizations. We believe the answer is Employee Experience. We were grateful for attendees’ engagement and the opportunity to connect around our shared passion for this topic.

Over the course of the three days, we also observed the ongoing maturation of CX as a discipline and a profession. In comparison to the stories shared at the 2016 CXPA Insight Exchange, it was clear the bar has been raised. A few examples:

  • Presenters and attendees questioned historically accepted “CX norms.” Beyond journey maps, many are finally realizing that other methodologies, tools, and disciplines (such as advanced analytics, organizational design, and human capital management) are needed to truly orchestrate a compelling experience.
  • Matthew Dixon, Ph.D. from the CEB and author of “The Effortless Experience,” shocked many with the revelation that “delight doesn’t always pay,” using five years of research to show that the “dazzle factor” is overrated. The takeaway? Focus on the basics and make it easy.
  • Measurement tools are making it easier and management platforms are integrating disparate data to enhance organizational understanding. CFOs are listening a little more intently to CX ROI projections affecting customer churn, loyalty, and advocacy. And companies are using CX as a tool to attract both customers and talent. In fact, the biggest success stories sound more like movements than initiatives.

At North Highland, we will continue helping our clients push the envelope of what a differentiated experience means in 2017 and beyond. Our point of view hasn’t changed; the experience of tomorrow needs to move beyond today’s commercial-centered experience to a more human-centered one. A human experience (HX), as we define it, is one infused with higher order meaning, shared purpose, and reflects mutual trust between company and employee and company and customer.

While companies will need to continue creating and managing experiences that are easy and orchestrated, they’ll also need to deliberately design and intentionally enable and inspire employees to achieve HX attributes.

We’re looking forward to helping progress the state of the industry over the rest of 2017, and to see what 2018 and beyond will bring.