Five ways organisations can transform customer experience

09 March 2020 5 min. read

As digital disruption continues to give rise to swathes of new competitors across the industrial gamut, market-leading customer experience can provide a much needed way for companies to stand out from the crowd. Consulting firm North Highland examined five key ways that the workforce can power customer experience (CX) strategies.

Customer experience, also known as CX, is the holistic perception of the experience a customer enjoys with a business or brand. CX is the result of every interaction a customer has with an organisation, from navigating its website to talking to customer service representatives and receiving the product or services which they purchased. In a competitive market, where many firms are vying for the same customers, CX can be a crucial mechanism to ensure a company maintains a competitive edge on its rivals.

As such, CX strategies are central to companies surviving in modern business, with organisations seeking to create customer-led operations where internal priorities are shaped by what’s occurring in the customer’s world. According to a new study from North Highland, an organisation’s workforce is central to an effective CX strategy, and there are five key opportunities for human capital to power CX differentiation within an always-on transformation context.

Cultivating talent

According to North Highland, nearly 90% of business leaders feel that market and customer preferences are moving faster than ever before. Keeping up with the pace of change means that companies need to change their culture to one of “always-on” transformation. In order to lay the groundwork for continuous change, respondents identified a number of key skills that an organisation’s ability to improve its CX depends upon.

Importance in Ensuring Successful Transformation

According to 58% of those surveyed, the ability to work within cross-functional and collaborative environments is a top priority, closely followed by a ‘strong purpose.’ With 62% of consumers wanting companies to take a stand on issues such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices, employees who place emphasis on purpose are clearly a boon to most organisations.

Compelling employee experience

The study asserted that in order to build an engaged, empowered, and productive workforce, organisations must first connect to its employees’ “changing needs, motivations, and values.” Without doing so, the expectations of organisations for employees to embrace continuously evolving, outside-in ways of operating and collaborating can be rather one-sided, and even breed a hostility in the workforce, unless management display sufficient levels of empathy and trust.

Despite this, North Highland’s report found that emphasis on employee experience (EX) has declined in the past year as organizations have lost confidence in its attainability. One barrier is designing EX for multiple generations, with only 17% of leaders saying they feel very prepared to cater to different generations of the workforce.

Alignment to accelerate buy-in

Leading on from this, organisations can better embed the adoption of change by involving employees in its design. Harnessing the value of CX strategies through always-on change becomes a lot more feasible when there is alignment across the workforce, and North Highland found that 93% of business leaders said such an approach typically yields more impactful, higher-adoption results.

Despite those potential benefits, however, many firms are still struggling to overcome their impulse to micro-manage. Of the same respondents who said autonomy was so important, 47% said that to effect higher-adoption change in the future, they would have to provide even greater opportunities for impacted employees to be involved in the design of change solutions.

Applying insights

Insights can help focus a company’s workforce on correctly prioritized CX activities, according to North Highland. This is because they can remove the guesswork and internal politics out of CX decision-making, meaning firms can take a clearer path to the activities that will maximise customer and business value.

CHART: Catalysts driving change in strategic priorities

The study found that in this respect, organisations are thoroughly aware of the importance of data and analytics. More than eight-in-ten respondents cited data analytics as a strategic priority, while 97% believe that it will yield a competitive advantage. This is supported by a poll from research firm Gartner, which found that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset, and make analytics as an essential competency.

Promoting workforce adaptability

The analysts also found that despite the major hype surrounding agile working, leaders often overlook the importance of enabling people to work in new and different ways. This is illustrated by the fact that only 29% see ways of working as a factor driving change in strategic priorities, compared to 38% who see digital adoption as a catalyst.

This means leaders are more focused on technology solutions to achieve their aims than on the shifts required in their workforce. If firms are to improve their CX continuously, however, implementing agile methods, for example, is essential to boost efficiency and allow for more customer-responsive products and services.

Summing up the findings, the report’s authors said, “It goes without saying that change has become the new normal—so normal, in fact, that accelerated change is universally acknowledged… In this market landscape, customer experience (CX) strategies are a central business focus… While the customer is firmly in the driver’s seat, only 31% of business leaders feel very prepared to address CX. We believe that organisations miss the mark on CX strategies because they too often underestimate the importance of workforce considerations. In our research, 70% of leaders cite people as a top barrier to addressing strategic priorities.”