Not to sound like a Grinch or anything, but I really can’t stand normally serious TV shows that do the totally trite holiday special — Hawaii Five-O’s Halloween rubbish comes to mind — or the usually terrible sit-com that takes laugh-track dependency to a new level with a totally not funny episode where one of the parents meets Santa while knocking back a double whiskey after a long evening of present wrapping. But I do love a list of snark-laden predictions and before I get to the real point of this post, check out Mark Ritson: Buckle Up For Marketing’s Big Seven in 2018   Everyone on our team read it and managed to extract at least one  great quote. Here are a couple….

  • Mine was”Millennials, if they actually existed as a segment, would demand a clear and transparent brand purpose or they would simply not buy from you. They don’t really care about ‘what’ the product is, they just care about ‘why’ you made it. That makes the millennial segment incredibly hard to market to; partly because they might go into the supermarket to buy bananas and bag of flour but come out with a unicycle and a bottle of brandy, but also because they demand a brand purpose…What are you doing about orangutans in Borneo?”
  • Ewan McIntyre‘s was “…ignore the naysayers who point out that your brand purpose of ‘Inspiring the human spirit with integrity’ is flawed because customers for industrial solvents aren’t interested in that; because it looks exactly like your competitor’s brand purpose of “Integrity and inspiration for all humanity’; because your solvents are made from endangered panda babies; and because you run all your operations out of Costa Rica to save a bundle on tax. These are old-world, closed-minded criticisms.”
  • Augie Ray‘s was “Can you imagine the power of a marketing department exclusively staffed with storytellers? Who needs strategy when you can weave a magical story? Does gross margin really matter when I can tell an impressive tale to explain it all away? And who wants brand managers when fairytales are an everyday aspect of operations?”

Which brings me to the real point of this post — Customer Experience. CX is a prime target for holiday season sniping as Twitter lights up in fury every time Amazon Prime botches a guaranteed delivery date or or Ambercrombie & Fitch takes payment for an in-store pickup that’s out of stock after you’ve driven an hour to the mall. Not that either of these happened to me, of course 😉 Augie wrote a fantastic post – The Top Zero Customer Experience Trends for 2018. While it doesn’t have all the snarky charm of Mark Ritson’s post, his point is equally clear — “I’ve got news for you: If there is a “megatrend” that will impact your company within 12 months and you are not already aware and acting, it is already too late for you…the real hot trends in CX — and they’ll be just as hot in two years as they are today — Start with your customers, understand their needs, measure their perceptions, identify your challenges and opportunities to improve satisfaction, and act.”

So, Customer Experience leaders everywhere — as you muscle through your most vulnerable time of the year while visions of sugar plums dance through your head — there’s a couple of things you should know — and I apologize in advance if this is a holiday downer:

  1. You are more likely to be meeting your management’s expectations than your customers. In our recent survey of CX leaders, only 22% of respondents indicated that their CX efforts exceed customers’ expectations, but a significantly higher 41% said their efforts exceed management expectations. There’s some job security in that I suppose, but you probably do the job you do because you love working with customers. Don’t end up on your customer’s naughty list because Santa wouldn’t allow you give someone the gift of refund after you missed the shipping date.
  2. Financial results are probably more important than customer satisfaction. Despite the “we put customers first” mantra, the metric most commonly used to measure CX results, by a significant 12-point margin, is financial outcomes (such as revenue, cost of acquisition, cost reduction and average revenue per user). That’s kind of a bummer but, hey,  employee satisfaction comes in fourth after engagement volume and retention/churn so you’ve got that going for you. Go the extra mile for your stressed out customer this year — they’ll probably be more appreciative than your bosses anyway.
  3. It may all be for naught. More than half of the respondents — CX leaders, remember! — do not know, haven’t tried or actually failed to find a positive relationship between customer experience and financial or business outcomes! I don’t even know what to say except BAH HUMBUG! You know why you do this. Remember every time a bell (or phone) rings a customer experience leader gets their wings.

Thank you for listening and Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

 

 

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