In my last article, I discussed how CX will ensure that brands are able to adapt to changing customer requirements in order to stay ahead of the competition. In part two of this article, I will cover why CX strategy cannot exist in a bubble and must continuously reflect the global environment, hopes, and innovative solutions that affect us all.
Economic, Political, and Social Factors Will Disrupt
In the UK, we are facing a series of challenges that may easily disrupt the flow towards better, more consistent experiences for customers. Let’s ignore what Brexit may do in the long term to human resource. In the short term, we know how inflation—affecting both food and fuel—changes shopping habits.
Recent articles have suggested that rising petrol prices will make customers adapt more of a convenience approach as we reduce car journeys in order to cope. However, history suggests that it may again be the high street stores that most suffer. Towards the end of the last decade, in order to counter the rising trend away from out of town shopping, the Big Four supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons) pushed out more money off coupons and price offers on fuel in their own forecourts. Customers were therefore compelled to take advantage of the cheaper fuel available there, and the convenience channel suffered. Customers also moved back to larger trolley shops, and the “all under one roof” grocery experience. The likes of Tesco and Asda saw their non-food category shares grow as a result.
With rising costs and reduced available cash forecasted in 2017, value for money will become more important as priorities are juggled. This should not be mistaken for a call for more price wars and risk a race to the bottom. Brands need to clearly set out their customer promise, making customers recognise that the brand cares about the experiences that they offer, and deliver against these expectations flawlessly.
There is a key role for CX to support in adapting to these times. When businesses struggle costs come under pressure, including the potential investment in customer experience solutions. It will be even more important to deliver clear ROI linked to their programmes, as well as setting out the longer-term strategic role to be realised. The brands that continue to invest and innovate will be the longer-term winners. CX sustains businesses.
Consumer Trends and the Demand to Take Responsibility
We began 2017 with a series of high profile stands against positions that many people felt uncomfortable. The movement, #DeleteUBER, showed the power that bad publicity could have on any business, with 200,000 customers deleting the app in the midst of the social noise generated around the first US travel ban. We subsequently saw different North American, but also internationally-focused brands, setting out their position and their values. VF Corp stated that they are a “company committed to inclusion”, where “diversity—among our people, our brands, and our consumers—is a source of competitive strength and organizational pride”. Levi’s reminded us all that Levi Strauss himself was an “immigrant”, and declared “empathy, originality, integrity, and courage are perhaps even more meaningful today than they were 163 years ago.”
Both brands were no doubt clear that being honest about what you stand for could be as important as what you do in the eyes of the customer. There are multiple ways in which a customer builds up an experience of a brand, and how you respond to external challenges is one of them. In a climate where the levels of trust are in such short supply, it pays to stand out for doing the right thing. Delivering great experiences, not just products, will count more in this new world.
Tackle 2017 with a Clear Purpose
In summary, trust needs to be gained, built, and retained by brands and CX can help pick up concerns quickly—and at a robust volume. Another clear role for the CX industry is to unearth the stories that show how worldviews are changing and allow businesses to act.
We know that to be successful brands need to focus on setting positive and long-term goals for their customer experience strategy. There need to be regular reminders of the progress being made against these objectives at a senior level to ensure focus and how the investment in the customer has delivered results that overshadow the investment involved.
CX is not only an operational solution, but should strategically support the brand purpose. An attitude of doing the right thing in order to build a sustainable, healthy, safe, and inclusive future should be considered a moral and commercial imperative for brands.