CX Live Munich Recap: 3 Universal CX Challenges for Big Brands

by Jeannie Walters

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“We’re unique, and so are the CX challenges we face.”

That’s what we like to believe.

We like to believe this about ourselves, our brands and our customers. We have bigger and badder challenges than our competitors…because of the size of our organization, the way our company is organized, and the way our industry is regulated!

I have news for you. You, your brand, your org structure and your customers are most likely facing many of the same CX challenges as your competitors.

I recently attended the SAP Customer Experience Live event in Munich, Germany. I played the part of an “influencer” who had fun interviewing executives and discovering what’s next in customer experience for large enterprise organizations. (Check out some of the interviews that I and Stephanie Thum conducted on SAP CX Facebook page.)

There are certain CX challenges all brands are facing right now in their efforts to create powerful customer experiences. Here are a few I heard about again and again from SAP executives, their enterprise customers and general attendees alike.

 

1. Data Integration is needed, but not yet achieved.

Our need to understand and react to customer data has advanced faster than the technology used to collect it. That means organizations have data here and data there, not necessarily in ways that make sense.

I was struck by how absolutely universal this theme is. Data lives in siloes of organizational structure, customer information, product silos, and more.

We oftentimes have this data – we just don’t know that prospect Mr. Smith who is categorized in our marketing campaign software as a “lapsed customer” is the same John Smith who has a policy with our sister brand, who Mr. John Smith views as the same company.

Data integration is absolutely essential to really understand customers and meet their needs. While most companies have invested in technology like marketing platforms and customer feedback systems, it’s less common that we have a centralized way to put this all together. This leads to inconsistent customer experiences at best and frustrating cycles of repeated information at not-even-the-worst.

Your customer’s “small” information is big to them as individuals. Is the name in the right format from one platform to the next? Our technologists and analysts haven’t always been asked to look at this level of detail. We have to ask them to really get this right for great customer experiences.

Data integration means understanding your customer’s journey on a holistic basis. This means finding ways to determine and confirm that Mr. Smith is John Smith.

You are probably facing this challenge in some permutation at your company. You’re not alone. There is no simple solution here, but admitting the problem is always the first step. Now it’s time to define the problem so we can create the solution!

 

2. Customer brains are changing. So are all of ours!

Professor Rafal Ohme discussed how much we still have to learn about brains, both ours and our customers. (We’re all the same when it comes to brains, right?)

Dr. Ohme pointed out one of the great challenges when it comes to understanding humans: we may say we like salad and fish, but our brainwaves light up for cake and beer. Brains don’t lie, but people do… even when they think they’re being honest.

As those who are observing and responding to customers, we must realize and overcome our own bias.

Applying Dr. Ohme’s “salad versus cake” discussion to customer experience, it’s not a big leap to say that customer experience professionals often want a response so bad that they believe to observe one, even when it really might not be there. We must be aware of creating an ending to a movie that our customers never wanted us to film in the first place.

We must really listen to what our customer’s brain is telling us. This means watching behaviors and actions and connecting the dots that our customers may not be telling us require connecting.

 

3. Trust is built over time, but lost instantly.

It takes a long time to build trust with customers now. And yet, just like that, we can lose it.

Do you know all the ways your brand builds trust with customers? Do you recognize how the smallest moment can erode that trust?

Trust is built throughout the journey, which today probably includes partners, several layers of employees and technology that the customer wants to work seamlessly with the offline and online experience. Your customer’s journey is about as far from linear as you can get. And each step creates a moment to build trust.

You may feel your customer’s journey is great when the technology offered can deliver on things like on-demand appointments and customer support. But there are still humans involved in delivering those experiences. How do you ensure your technology and your overall approach to the journey includes the right people at the right moments? These are the big questions many brands are facing now.

Creating journey maps to help us understand the journey means including understanding what employees and offline experiences are impacting the overall digital journey.


 

I wish I could say there was a magic wand that helped us here, but it’s really like anything else. To deliver superior customer experiences, we need to find ways to work across teams in large organizations. Siloes – in data, in technology, in departments or in products – are the killers of great CX.

Customer experience is almost a misnomer at this point. As we head into the future of CX, we must account for digital excellence, employee engagement, a constant cycle of customer feedback, and building trust at each moment along the way. That means we’re designing and executing experiences that are bigger than each of us individually.

Ironically they must work moment-by-moment, individual-by-individual. Technology can actually help us deliver on that in richer ways.

We are facing a lot of CX challenges at large organizations today, but don’t let that discourage you.

Because, really, is there anything greater than delivering great experiences for humans?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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