When crafting a customer experience game-plan CX practitioners should consider the geographic location of their target audience if they want to fully meet expectations and delight customers.
As mentioned by Martin Ortlieb, User Experience Researcher at Google, humans are more similar than they are different. However, an awareness of what those differences are and how culture contributes to them could be the key to having a competitive edge with customers in a certain location.
Murray Goodwin, Director, CX Advisory, IPSOS MORI Customer Experience notes: “Understanding how your customers interact with your products and services within different cultures can make or break your commercial successes.”
He adds: “We recently helped a global CPG manufacturer interpret the role that laundry fragrance plays around the globe. Our research revealed a whole host of interesting quirks, but in the US in particular, we learned that having clean-smelling clothes plays a far more important role than it does across Europe, as people were more likely to greet one another with a hug in the west and therefore the way you smell has more significant implications for peoples’ perceptions of your social status.”
He urges brands to remember that people give different NPS scores in different countries. “Selling new cars in the US? We’ve shown that your customers will be far more likely to recommend you to others than if you were selling the same cars in Italy.”
Market consensus agrees that the United States is the most advanced region for brand experience and customer segmentation in most industries, with trends emerging first in the US and then spreading to other countries a few weeks later. As these customers have a higher chance of exposure to world-leading experiences, people based in the US are likely to have higher expectations than their global counterparts.
Support for this argument was witnessed in Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service report which polled 5,000 individuals across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of the US customers surveyed:
- 62% have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience *
- 43% have done this in the last 12 months *
- 42% feel the quality of customer service is getting worse *
- 56% have higher expectations for customer service now than they had a year ago
*This rate exceeded the global average.
Here, CX Network looks at how CX practitioners in North America are reacting to industry trends in their mission to impress US customers and prospects. This piece will delve into exclusive insights from a research group of US CX professionals from the 2019 Global State of Customer Experience Report to map out key localised customer engagement trends and pain-points.
Top trends for US CX practitioners
Omni-channel: The omni-channel model and the notion of meeting customers in their channel of choice appears to be a much higher priority for US practitioners than their international peers.
If they want to field the omni-channel set-up, brands need to have the correct resourcing in place. In regards to the offline vs digital prioritisation, in one of the recent CX Network Advisory Board calls, Board member Claire Hill, Customer Experience Director of Studio Retail Limited noted: “In previous years there was a laser focus on being digital first – but now we are no longer talking about the online vs offline piece. We are shifting away from just going digital for the sake of it. Internal operational changes are in place so we aren’t pushing the digital agenda forward – we very clearly display phone numbers for customer contact or live chat. We are allowing the customer to interact with us via the channel they choose.”
To inform the operational strategy that would ensure their resourcing was flexible enough to respond to different channels, Claire recalls: “….we turned to historical data to spot trends to inform decisions about having resourcing in the right areas. When a new channel is introduced there may be a spike where take-up is higher than expected – this will even out and help to inform future decisions.”
Human-centred design: Human-centered design centres on providing an experience that solves the needs of a target audience. US practitioners seem to have more interest in this area than the global average, which is encouraging as customer-first cultures need to be nurtured and these exercises contribute to the foundations needed to roll-out more predictive customer service efforts. According to Microsoft’s report, US customers appreciate proactive customer service notifications. Therefore, brands which can pre-empt the needs of their US customers place themselves in a strong position to win loyalty.
At the Omnichannel Exec Forum, Steve Kato-Spyrou – UX Manager, John Lewis highlighted the importance of validating concepts using design thinking approaches. The process of 6 Up-sketching in workshops was discussed – coming up with as many ideas as humanly possible, as hearing ideas from peers can spark creativity. He noted that John Lewis puts ideas generated from workshops in front of its customers to see which ones are popular. In fact, customers visit the John Lewis Customer Hub in person four times a week to inform the validation cycle followed by researchers.
Customer acquisition and contact centre solutions seem to have attracted more budget from this section of customer experience practitioners in comparison to their global counterparts.
Customer acquisition: Healthy lines of new business are critical in the US as customers may be at a high risk of churn. According to Microsoft’s research, the number of US customers that have left a brand because of poor customer service in the last 12 months exceeds the global average. Businesses should capitalise on this switching economy by making their brand desirable to their competitor’s neglected high-lifetime value customers. Advocates should be empowered to entice new customers and brands should turn themselves into digital listeners offering multiple options for conversion.
Contact centre solutions & Customer insight: It is logical that this batch of CX professionals are investing in bolstering contact centres with more training and equipment with the strong emphasis from the region on knowledgeable customer service representatives.
A holistic and, if possible, 360° view of the customer will helpful to brands as the majority of US customers surveyed agreed that customer service representatives should know their contact, product and service information/history. This dashboard view provides agents and frontline staff with a more intimate understanding of customers, the services they are subscribed to, their past behaviours and real-time preferences. This rich, relevant insight and real time visualisation of data can be leveraged to proactively engage with customers’ needs in real-time when it really matters.
Building a customer-first culture: Similar to practitioners based in countries outside of the US, it appears difficult for businesses to fully tear away from a business-first, product focused end-to-end business mind-set in order to live and breathe a customer-first culture. Customer-centric validation techniques are crucial for educating researchers on improving products and processes. This is especially important in the US as customers in this region seem to be more willing to switch brands after a bad experience.
Linking CX initiatives to ROI: ROI and board buy-in are significant challenges for all CX practitioners. Both areas are crucial for unlocking future CX investments. CX has a strong influence on business success hence the strong level of investment going into CX, but this of course triggers a desire from senior management for results. The inability to communicate the financial business case can jeopardize the future of a finely crafted CX program.
In order to win market-share in a certain location, brands should arm themselves with any insights that will give them the edge over their competitors. A few of these game-changing strategies may be hidden in the regionally influenced preferences of your customers. To capture these preferences, companies should mine their Voice of the Customer data and use it to inform their personalisation methodologies going forward.
For this region in particular, businesses would be well placed to remember that US customers appear to be ready and willing to leave a company because of bad customer experiences. Therefore, when servicing these customers in this area a conscious effort should be made to provide a solid service and recover experiences as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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