Mapping your brand’s value landscape, linking initiatives to larger business objectives, and results-oriented listening are a few of the key topics that will be covered when Loyalty360 hosts a webinar on Thursday titled, “ROI By Design: How to Create Meaningful Value from CX,” which will be presented by InMoment. The webinar begins at 1 p.m. EDT.

Loyalty360 caught up with Brennan Wilkie, senior vice president of customer experience strategy, InMoment, to get a preview of this week’s compelling webinar.

Can you talk about a brand’s value landscape and how it fits with an overall CX strategy?
Wilkie: A brand’s value proposition is a “statement” in the marketplace about who they are and what they stand for. What has changed significantly from the past is that a brand's value proposition, or promise, isn't a one-way declaration by the brand. Ultimately, a brand’s value is determined by customers, created by the culmination of their experiences, and shared and evolved further by their conversations with the brand and each other. The landscape brands create for their customer is the environment, both physical and digital, that allows consumers to engage with your products and services.

Traditionally, there has been a relatively simple equation for value–one that defines what the customer gets for the price they pay. In today’s global, hyper-competitive marketplace, where customers value relationship above all else, we know that the value equation is no longer simple. As a result, organizations that lead are the ones that recognize that the customer experience is a value generator above and beyond the core offering. To grow customer value, organizations must be disciplined in creating a CX strategy that is woven into their value landscape; solving for near-, mid-, and long-term goals that nurture the customer relationship along the maturity curve of the brand. An effective CX strategy is one that brings a new value landscape to life−one that puts the customer’s experience at the center of the value proposition.

How do brands go about linking CX initiatives to larger business objectives?
Wilkie: A mistake brands make is to jump into tactical initiatives in the interest of solving for one-off challenges in the business. And while time-to-impact is critical for CX initiatives, business opportunities never exist in isolation; they are always inter-related. This requires that brands design their CX plan backward from the ultimate outcome that creates financial performance for the business and includes building high-value relationships with customers and employees. There is an arch to the customer experience that starts prior to a transaction and lives on far afterward. At each stage in this arch is an ecosystem in which your employees, partners, and processes directly and/or indirectly impact the experience. 

Linking CX initiatives to business objectives start with mapping your customer ecosystem. Then, leverage your CX strategy to define your priorities and use a holistic approach to solving for the bigger picture. If you’re using tactical initiatives and they don’t build toward the desired financial outcome, then reshape or de-prioritize them. There can be no distractions from the business objective.

So many brands talk about CX as a critical differentiator. How do you assess the current CX landscape among loyalty marketers?
Wilkie: The argument of whether CX is important is over. The phase we’re in now is around differentiation. It’s not enough to deliver a “great” customer experience. Brands must deliver the right experience and do it both well and consistently. To elevate, we’ve seen brands attempt to mimic the playbook of other CX leaders. While the intent is there, the execution falls flat at best. Getting to the heart of why customers love you, why they choose you over your competitors and then building from there is key.  And there are always two levels to that process.

First, your core competencies. This is often an area that brands don't spend nearly enough time getting right because they’re focused on “surprise and delight.” If you’re a pharmacy, your core is vastly different than a luxury retailer. Mastering those elements builds trust with customers, and an associated degree of differentiation. The next step is to identify the surprise and delight elements that matter most to your customers and to your business. Bringing the core together with the right surprises creates a kind of differentiation that shows up in your bottom line. 

Where do the challenges lie for brands when it comes to CX ROI?
Wilkie: Where do I start! CX is infinitely more complex than a piece of software or a single process around which you can create distinct metrics. CX can and should lift every area of your business. The challenge most brands have is focus. The lack focus in setting up objectives and definitions of success. They fail to tie CX efforts to business objectives. And a shockingly high percentage of brands still aren’t tracking or measuring their progress effectively. We’ve come a long way in articulating the business value of CX, however, there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. 

What trends do you see for the rest of 2017 and beyond as they relate to CX ROI?
Wilkie: We’re still in a stage where companies realize and want the benefits that come with a differentiated customer experience but aren’t willing or don’t know how to invest at a level to earn those benefits. In the past year, we saw some of those brands dismiss or “restructure” their CX leaders out of jobs citing a lack of results. Granted, there are some cases where weak leadership is the primary cause of CX failure.

Often, however, it’s a matter of being set up to fail by lack of meaningful buy-in. We may see more of this in the coming year from brands that haven’t yet grasped what it means to be truly customer centric. On the other hand, I also anticipate that we’ll see brands previously tagged as laggards emerge with some surprising successes. Telecom, an industry notorious for its terrible customer experience, has invested well and heavily in long-term CX initiatives that are starting to bear fruit. Look for some very interesting outcomes from that sector. 

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