Research pic customer experience

The picture painted at a general session, presented by Loyalty360 CEO and CMO Mark Johnson and Gallup’s Jordan Katz, titled, “The Customer Experience: Creating Emotional Connections that Drive Financial Results – A Joint Perspective by Gallup and Loyalty360,” is one that reveals many challenges. But the reward for overcoming them is sweet: Lasting customer loyalty.

Johnson opened the session, held Tuesday at the 4th annual Loyalty360 Engagement & Experience Expo, by sharing the results of the Loyalty360 CX Landscape, a study of more than 250 brands representing a diverse spectrum of companies and industries that evaluated the definition and scope of the customer experience – or CX – landscape, as well as processes, challenges, innovations, and knowledge gaps.

“What we found after this extensive study is that the definition of customer experience is not consistent,” Johnson told the audience. “Some see it as a single interaction or touch point while others narrowly define it as a customer satisfaction score. And others describe it as a well-orchestrated relationship with the customer at every point in the customer journey.”

Johnson said that the brands doing the best at building a successful customer experience are “tackling the difficult tasks.” He cited Loyalty360 CX Award winners Safelite, ANZ Australia, and Hilton Worldwide as examples of brands that excel by holding their employees accountable for customer experience, using metrics; and tracking loyalty and advocacy, profitability, and ROI.

“Winning brands have taken a very complex concept and simplified it without diminishing the return,” Johnson said. “These are companies that are vested in the outcomes andcustomer experience brands therefore see enhanced success.”

Gallup: Connecting study results with the consumer 

Katz, senior managing consultant at Gallup, said that to fully understand the landscape findings and put the results into action, it’s important to look at the behaviors of the U.S. consumer – and how it affects customer experience, and in turn, revenue.

Customers, he said, are either “fully engaged, indifferent, or actively disengaged.” While all three types are important to understand– it is the fully engaged and the disengaged that can influence outcomes the most.

“Customers are asking three questions that lead to full engagement,” he said. ”First, is the company delivering on their promise? Second, am I proud to be a customer? And third, is the company perfect for people like me?”

Across all industries, the fully engaged customer can mean significantly better outcomes. In banking loyalty can increase by 37%, in retail by 44%, and fully engaged customers account for about 56 more restaurant visits.

customer engagement questionsBut, Katz said, as the landscape findings revealed, customer satisfaction is not a good indicator of a successful customer experience campaign when the end result is to increase revenue. He used stock returns as an indicator, showing how businesses like cable companies have poor customer satisfaction scores, but high stock returns, while Mercedes-Benz has high customer satisfaction, but lower stock returns.

“Customer satisfaction is important, but it’s not the answer,” said Katz.

Katz suggested that the answer lies instead in how well a customer is treated. When employees are in line with a brand’s mission, they are more likely to feel proud of their work, and that can translate into real numbers.

“Only 28% of employees know what makes their company valued,” said Katz. “Is this an HR problem? A marketing problem? I’d say it’s both.”

Katz also said that a Gallup study found that less than half of managers, and only 37% of their employees, know what their companies stand for and what sets them apart from their competitors. The numbers get even more grim when you consider that a study of 2.5 million managers revealed only one in 10 are actually qualified for the job, and only two in 10 can be trained.

“We have to hire people who can help us drive the emotional connection and partner with HR to create an engaging workplace that creates consistency,” Katz said. 

Hiring the right people can significantly increase customer engagement and loyalty said Katz.

“When bank customers receive exceptional service, they are 29% more likely to engage with a brand,” he explained. “One less than perfect experience and the drop is 30%.”

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