This year’s CX Conference took place recently and the theme for the day was ‘Optimising Customer Experience in a Digital World’. This is a challenge that has been faced by many companies this year as customer journeys changed overnight and customers’ experiences of many companies and organisations were transformed. Given the theme of the event, it was particularly fitting that this was the first fully online conference held by the Marketing Association bringing together over 200 marketers virtually to create a new conference experience.

The need to understand your customer and put them at the heart of what you do was of course a key theme of the day (it was a CX conference after all!). One of my favourite quotes of the day came from Daniel Birch from Les Mills who advised us to ‘Fall in love with your customers’ problems’.

The speakers and case studies included a diverse range of businesses from Flight Centre to Z Energy, but some common themes came up throughout the day.

1. Linking CX and business objectives

All marketing and brand strategy should stem from the organisation’s strategic objectives and CX is no different. The effectiveness of CX will be judged by its contribution to overall business results just like any other marketing activities. So, know what company strategic objectives you are working towards and identify how CX can help achieve them. Keryn McKenize, Chapter Area Lead Insights and Data Science for the Warehouse Group, talked about how her objective was very simple – to drive sales. Working back from that objective The Warehouse needed to change customer behaviour, by changing customer preference, by giving customers the experience they desired. They identified which steps in the customer journey were the key points where customer perceptions could be changed to increase sales and focussed on these steps.

2. The perceived tension between brand and CX

Brand and CX should never be separate. CX should always service the brand and share a vision with the brand. The panel identified during their discussion that at the time there may be inconsistencies, but a shared vision will make it easier to align CX and brand objectives. Keryn again talked about how everything comes back to brand perception and how brand health data leads into CX design. For any organisation, if there is dissonance between the brand messaging consumers receive and their customer experience, you risk losing their confidence.

3. The challenge of closing the gap between insight and action

A key challenge is often not a lack of insight into what needs to change but rather overcoming inertia and just getting started. A theme that emerged from several speakers on the day was don’t wait for the perfect time to start your CX journey as you’ll be waiting forever. If you are waiting to have the perfect company structure or to have your entire customer lifecycle journey mapped, or to have a large investment approved by the exec team you risk never making any progress. Starting small with small tests can be a good way to build confidence within the organisation and ‘sell’ CX internally. The team from Les Mills talked however about the need to balance rigour and speed. If an iterative approach to a new product or service is being used, rather than starting with the Minimum Viable Product, use customer insight to develop the Minimum Desirable Product. This sentiment was echoed by Nigel Cherrie, the current Head of Digital Experience at Southern Cross, in his comments that a bad version of a product or service is not a Minimum Viable Product.

CX, as a discipline is still a new concept for many New Zealand businesses and many New Zealand marketers, face common challenges. Who owns CX within a company? How do you demonstrate ROI for CX? How do you get senior-level support for CX investment?

2020 has been a year that has created CX challenges that none of us could have foreseen as we approached Christmas last year and a final theme that emerged was how this has driven innovation in many organisations. This has created opportunities for CX to be leaders in business change, opportunities that CX teams can continue exploiting to drive change as we go into another year which undoubtedly will throw us more curveballs along the way.

Written by Carolyn Schofield, Head of Brand, Trustpower Ltd and member of the Marketing Association CX Special Interest Group