It’s safe to say what shapes and defines best practice in business evolves alongside the current cultural landscape. So it reasonably follows that in a time of unprecedented visibility, traditional marketing has become less central to the building of a brand identity or garnering customers and clients – and securing their ongoing loyalty.
To this end, the role of Chief Experience Officer (CXO), a position dedicated to optimizing the customer experience (CX), has come to its rightful place of prominence.
Thanks in no small part to the endless public forums available online that allow anyone to share their experience with a global audience, the picture your business presents is evermore in the hands of others. This feedback – earned through real experience and therefore perceived as more trustworthy – means a lot to a company’s bottom line.
In fact, Nielsen’s global 2021 ‘Trust in Advertising Study’ found 88 percent of consumers surveyed (a considerable 40,000 individuals across 56 countries) trust recommendations from people they know above all other forms of marketing messaging.
A Future trend
Looking to the future, it’s a trend set to continue, with McKinsey reporting 82 percent of gen Z trust their family and friends for advice on products more than any other source.
This trust extends beyond the people we know. According to BrightLocal, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 74 percent of consumers admit that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
The payoffs for great experiences offer other benefits to businesses besides simply getting people through the door, with PwC noting consumers are willing to pay up to a 16 percent price premium on products and services and increased loyalty for a great customer experience.
"Increased visibility has seen consumers become ever more discerning about the companies they choose." – Denise Lee Yohn
Their research also revealed customers are more likely to try additional services or products from brands that provide superior customer experience, and 63 percent said they’d be more open to sharing their data for a product or service they truly valued.
And if you get it wrong? PwC’s study found even when people love a company or product, 59 percent of United States consumers they surveyed are willing to walk away after several bad experiences, and 17 percent would leave after just one bad experience.
Behind the scenes
Feedback and reviews are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Denise Lee Yohn, an expert on brand leadership, says consumers have access to information about organizational practices, which were formally well hidden from the public – think wages and benefits, sexual harassment policies and involvement in political issues.
They’ve also been armed with the public platforms to share it and speak out, which plays a part in the overall perception of a company.
"Increased visibility has seen consumers become ever more discerning about the companies they choose, they align their purchase decisions with their values, and as such have become increasingly interested in how companies engage with employees, tending to prioritize doing business with those that value their employees, treat them fairly, and prioritize their wellbeing," Yohn says.
"A great employee experience leads to a great customer experience." – Denise Lee Yohn
With delivering a great customer experience being so central to building a brand that brings in the consumer, and the inner workings of a company no longer guaranteed to be private, creating the optimal employee experience (EX) becomes as important as a solid marketing campaign.
"A great employee experience leads to a great customer experience. Each creates valuable relationships in isolation but bought together with a Chief Experience Officer at the helm, companies can create a unique, sustainable and competitive advantage," Yohn explains.
Yohn says the sum of all interactions an employee has with an organizational significantly impacts business performance. An example Yohn gives is the disgruntled employee who posts about horrible working conditions, to the more insidious impact poor organizational culture can have on a customer’s experience with a company’s staff.
A CXO can also help build a ‘dream team’, with the recent skills shortage bringing the value of a great EX into the spotlight – the better the staff, the better the CX. Yohn has spoken recently about how companies are experiencing difficulty ensuring they have a knowledgeable, experienced and motivated workforce that is equipped to deliver a good customer experience.
As well as attracting and retaining the best staff, having a dedicated CXO means ensuring that not only the unique CX expectations of your clientele are well understood, but that they are prioritized within an organization’s business strategy and operations and communicated right down the chain. A CXO will also work to ensure staff are equipped, motivated and passionate about delivering them.