In a previous post, we discussed customer experience (CX), but this topic is so important we felt it deserved additional attention. While not a new concept, CX is gaining attention as an area for differentiation and increased customer engagement.

Customer Experience

In the 2015 Digital Trends report, co-published by Econsultancy and Adobe, 6,000 marketing, digital and ecommerce professionals from across the globe were surveyed on the importance of “customer experience,” or the relationship and experience a customer has with a brand from first introduction to interactions years down the road. Here are the top findings:

1. CX is a huge initiative for marketing

If you ask Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, “The nature of marketing has exploded from an ancillary communications function to the Grand Central Station of customer experience.”

He’s not the only one touting the importance of the synergy between marketing and customer experience. Of all survey participants, 78 percent reported that they’re trying to differentiate through CX.

This is due to a couple factors: higher customer expectations and advancements in mobile technology that place greater demands on digital marketing.

2. CX requires unity and cultural change

Even though marketers are ramping up to move toward CX-minded strategies, it isn’t proving easy. As sited in the study, “Businesses are marrying together datasets, technological infrastructures, and operations, often for the first time, in order to provide the perfect experience for consumers.”

In order to do this, business goals and priorities must shift. A cross-team approach and a “common perspective” should be established company-wide so that every individual is working toward the same customer experience goal. This may require some internal structural changes, but those who have made the shift report it can be one of the most “powerful and efficient ways to work.”

Businesses must also realign incentives to achieve CX. The study suggests “redefining how bonuses are calculated to include a customer satisfaction component” and also “using a more sophisticated set of goals around cross-team cooperation and customer evaluation.” By introducing a rewards system, employees with be more willing to get onboard with new strategies and operating procedures.

Supporting experimentation and understanding failure is another highlight discussed in the study. This mentality encourages businesses to combine best practices with new ideas in order to enhance the customer experience. Risk is something businesses aren’t always comfortable with, but in this digital landscape it’s important to test out new ideas to see what works best.

3. CX drives innovation

As a common strategy permeates every level of a business, this unified direction can galvanize innovation. The study explains that, “In a business, creativity is often at its best (or most useful) when it’s given context and boundaries. The move to build a great CX opens the door for creativity in every team and at every level. It also inspires growth within a company.”

4. CX differentiates a brand

When a customer has a consistent and unique experience with a brand, from customer service call centers, to in-person contact, to online advertising and email blasts, it creates a sense of familiarity and loyalty. Consistency is critical as shown by research from consulting firm McKinsey indicates that “on average, a B2B customer will regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey, and almost 65 percent will come away from it frustrated by inconsistent experiences.” Clearly a significant opportunity exists for differentiation through CX.

Once businesses can iron out all the details as how to streamline their organizations from top to bottom, they will be able to create a truly engaging and positive customer experience and see big results in how they are viewed in the market.