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Customer Experience

What Did You Expect? Delivering Experiences that Meet Customer Expectations (Part 3 of 3)

Address common barriers to delivering on customer expectations

Part 3: Delivering on Expectations

Are you ever unsure of what your customers want? Would knowing what they expect help you drive business outcomes? If this sounds like you, read on as we explore the art and science of expectations in the wrap-up to this three-part series.

Our story so far has explored the gap between what customers expect and what brands deliver. We’ve also examined three popular planning frameworks used to address such gaps. And now that improvements have been identified, it’s go-time — right? Maybe not just yet. While it’s easy to dream up cool new solutions, many organizations lack the maturity to deliver them at meaningful scale. Promising to deliver performance you can’t fulfill is a recipe for reputational disaster.

To avoid a fall, first take stock of your firm’s customer experience and digital maturity. This includes knowing how your peers and senior leadership perceive said maturity. We often ask clients to take our CX IQ assessment, Perficient’s customer experience diagnostic. Results from CX IQ reveal organizational strengths and weakness across key CX competencies. CX IQ also tells us how company leaders perceive those capabilities and the degree to which they share these perceptions.

Six years’ worth of CX IQ assessments has revealed five common barriers that can stop organizations from delivering experiences customers want and need:

Barrier 1: Lack of Ownership and Consistency

When CX responsibility is divvied up across functional areas, brand consistency is likely to suffer. Customers expect dependable, connected experiences from brands. While this fact may never show up in a satisfaction survey, studies repeatedly point to the relationship between brand consistency and customer trust. Customers want to know what they’re getting from channel to channel and over the lifetime of their relationship with a brand. Because we use context-dependent memory to recall actions and preferences, we generally trust the familiar and avoid the new. By presenting your brand as a consistent provider of value, you signal that what have to offer is stable, reliable and trustworthy. Digital design systems that seamless blend the physical and digital worlds, coherent governance policies and dedicated CX champions are all crucial to consistent delivery.

Barrier 2: Competing Priorities

In the drive for results, business units and teams often find themselves assigned a long list of accountabilities. With numerous independent KPIs to support, customer goals can get lost in the shuffle. Priority conflicts often arise. Avoid competing priorities by clearly mapping KPIs to customer expectations, and by identifying potential conflicts in the measurement system. Rather than setting KPIs from the top down — which can lead to clashing objectives and internal stress — encourage teams to select KPIs based on customers’ objectives. For example, if you’re investing in initiatives that drive leads, it’s probably smarter to gauge performance based on ROI instead of purely on spend. Cross-unit collaboration is another effective way to maintain a tight (positively correlated) relationship between measurement systems (performance and operational) and CX objectives.

Barrier 3: Lack of Alignment

When management disagree on CX goals, priorities or projected impact, delivery teams are left holding the bag. Resources are stretched thin, triggering frustration. Heels dug in. By establishing a vision for CX excellence at the start, your entire organization can rally around a unified mission and work toward that goal. To promote this kind of alignment, we work with leadership teams to define a vision for digital. The vision becomes a touchstone for sizing up current capabilities, identifying gaps, establishing goals (see #2) and dissolving organizational silos. Bonus: aligned teams move fast. They don’t need to deliberate over objectives and outcomes. We also ask teams to revisit the vision regularly. This fosters collaboration and facilitates post-project evaluations as they move from concept to MVP and beyond.

Barrier 4: Lack of Customer Insight

In many organizations, problems and opportunities haven’t been properly identified or quantified because teams lack deep insight into customer needs. This takes empathy, which translates into capabilities to gather intelligence about customer behavior, attitudes and preferences. It’s also about embedding those insights into detailed personas and journey maps for sharing throughout the organization. Robust analytics platforms provide ongoing insight. Such tools are critical to support learning at scale so digital teams can develop the personalization and relevance customers expect.

Barrier 5: Insufficient Data Integration and Use

Many organizations harbor multiple systems and databases with overly restrictive privacy policies. This can result in large technical overhead and laggy information flow. Digital leaders must establish platforms that enable consistent message delivery and seamless experiences across all channels, including digital and physical experiences. Also critical: the ability to create and leverage rich customer profiles by integrating multiple data sources (transactional and behavioral) into a single view. From here, it’s important to provide a master record and single version of enterprise data, including products, services, customers, orders and other key domains.

For most organizations and their customers, 2020 was a year eventful beyond measure. 2021 promises much of the same, with both setbacks and successes in store.

Despite the uncertainty, CX and digital leaders must be vigilant in identifying fast-changing customer expectations. They must ensure that their organizations have the empathy, agility and alignment to act. Explore our Strategy and Consulting practice to learn how we’re partnering with CX leaders to meet unforeseen challenges and enable change as never before.

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David Stallsmith

David has expertise in applying user insight and design thinking methods to solve complex customer experience, marketing, and employee engagement challenges. He’s an accomplished strategist with extensive experience across a range of industries, notably branded manufacturing, technology, financial services, retail, and healthcare.

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