The Age of the Customer Is Here

The Age of the Customer Is Here

David Henry
David Henry

The age of the brand is over—it’s time to make way for customers.


As we move further into the digital era, customers are more empowered than ever. The flood of information and content available online puts them—not brands—in the driver’s seat, giving customers a strong voice in the market and the ability to choose who they want to do business with. For this reason, customer experience (CX) has never been more important. According to Forrester, CX leaders have a 5.1x greater revenue growth on average than CX laggards. Meanwhile, customer expectations are evolving rapidly, and they have forced companies whose technology and org structures were designed to elevate and promote their brand to fundamentally rethink the way they interact with their audience. 

Through this lens, we’re learning that the traditional ways of engaging with customers—marketing campaigns, spam, siloed channels—are fundamentally flawed, and won't lead to sustained growth and competitive advantage. Simply sending out a customer survey won’t give your organization the insights it needs to make decisions quickly enough to impact the customer experience. As the world becomes more digital and real-time, this approach falls short. In fact, 32% of customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience, leaving little room for error. 

If you want better CX, follow the data.

What are customers looking for? To become a CX leader, it’s crucial to simultaneously cultivate empathy and push for consumer insights. Customers don’t want to be told how to experience the brand—they want the brand to adapt to their individual experience. Forrester Analyst Kelly Price describes this as “the gateway to understanding who your customers are, what they want and need, and for providing a valid representation of the customer to the rest of the organization.” 

The very digital-first experiences that customers have come to expect are a surefire entrypoint into understanding what they want. Companies can now collect data on every interaction in real-time via new breeds of listening tools and platforms, including social media. If you listen to it, data shows you what’s working—and what’s not. It helps you understand what your customer wants. It allows you to respond more quickly (and accurately). This has created both an opportunity and an unprecedented expectation for enterprises to use data in meaningful ways to improve customer experiences. (Learnings should be applied throughout an entire business for maximum effectiveness—not siloed to the customers of a single department or team.)

Being data-rich means nothing unless you use it to help customers (and are equipped to do so).

Many CX initiatives have fallen short for a common reason; customers expect you to do more with the data that they give you. For legacy enterprises, this challenge is exacerbated as startups and technology companies set the bar for what is possible in their industry. The larger a business is, the more siloed its departments and teams tend to be. Research shows that 80% of companies' data goes unused. Companies like Uber and Netflix play by different rules. They are built for agility and promote a Silicon Valley culture of test often and fail fast, making it increasingly urgent that enterprises find new and innovative ways to deliver customer-centric experiences. Amazon—a pioneer of data-led CX—has set the standards of e-commerce not by obsessively tracking customer behavior alone. They use the data they collect to maintain a sophisticated recommendation engine algorithm that serves customers and generates 35% of their sales.

For this reason, many enterprises focused on CX are re-organizing into pods that own the entire experience and business outcome for a specific journey (e.g., mortgage applications at a retail bank). These pods are made up of business analysts, underwriters, CX leaders, designers, product, and engineering counterparts. Team members are responsible for both customer and business outcomes instead of departmental KPIs, which results in higher journey throughput (e.g., total number of approved mortgages) and greater customer loyalty (CSAT and share of wallet). 

Great CX is a company-wide journey.

Data and org structure are two foundational changes that will pivot businesses toward better CX. But there are other steps that will help guarantee success. According to a report by Forrester, mastering CX requires six core competencies: 

  • Culture: Employees must share a system of values and behaviors focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Research: Have an in-depth understanding of your customers and communicate your learnings to employees and partners.
  • Prioritize: Focus on what is most important for your customers’ experience and business’s success.
  • Design: Define and iterate experiences based on your vision and research-based customer understanding.
  • Enable: Give employees and partners the resources they need to deliver the right experiences.
  • Measure: Quantify the quality of customer experiences and their link to your organization’s overall metrics.

As the age of the customer takes hold, more and more companies are adopting these practices to gain a competitive advantage. In fact, every Fortune 500 enterprise—from banking to insurance to telco—has created board-level initiatives to reckon with CX and move from being brand- and product-centric to customer-centric. But, not everyone will thrive. While 73% of companies aim to be CX leaders, only 25% succeed. The most innovative enterprises are re-evaluating their org structure to better accommodate how customers want to interact with them and to supply the resources they need to respond. Those who can meet expectations will separate themselves from the pack.

Interested in this topic and want to learn more about how Experience Orchestration (XO) can help you compete in the age of the customer? Check out the full whitepaper where we dive into this topic and more here.

David Henry
David Henry

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