According to Temkin Group, a leader in customer experience (CX) research, 2016 is “the year of emotion”.
“Our research shows that emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often ignore. Companies will recognise this opportunity and dramatically increase their focus on emotion in 2016,” the company says.
This, says inQuba CEO Michael Renzon, has been a long time coming. Speaking at the recent CEW 2016 conference, he told delegates that while CX has evolved over the past decade, and practitioners have turned CX into a science, the industry has not learned how to scale empathy to drive personalised customer experience. And empathy, Renzon believes, is at the heart of CX.
“We have been talking about CX in the context of customer journey maps, feedback loops, etc. We have listened and learned, but we haven’t engaged in the customer story. To have true engagement, we have to scale empathy,” he says.
The problem, however, is that empathy doesn’t scale. Renzon points out that empathy requires context: Knowing when it is the right time to speak to the right people, and to say the right thing. “Timing is essential to interactions that build empathy, but timing rests on understanding the customer’s context. The only way to solve the empathy problem is to move from customer journey mapping to customer context mapping. That’s CXtended.”
He adds: “This is invaluable in every industry. In the travel sector, for example, airlines could use the context to know that passenger 23A is a mother travelling with a child, and provide extra luggage weight allowance so that her experienced improves – this way, she can pack one bag instead of two, making walking through the airport easier. In insurance, the claims process could be greatly improved through CXtended. Context would allow insurers to know exactly who customer John Smith is, and when he needs to claim, could dispense with a lot of the processes he would have to go through today.”
He adds that customer journey mapping has become the cornerstone of the industry, and while it has proven key to moving CX forward, it has a number of shortfalls. Primary among these is the fact that customer journey maps can be equated to old-fashioned printed maps – they are frozen in time.
“Customer journey mapping is the analogue version of customer context mapping. In much the same way paper maps were replaced by apps like Google Maps as a result of the greater functionality offered, customer journey mapping needs to evolve into customer context mapping,” Renzon says. “Customer journey mapping assumes most customers and journeys are largely the same, and doesn’t deal well with exceptions. People are falling through the customer journey, and those people are being rehabilitated manually.”
He adds that CX processes have not been designed to deal with unhappy customers. However, unlike journey mapping, context mapping is not passive. “CXTended is not about starting from scratch. It’s about finding pockets of empathy and adding engagement to the customer story through that empathy. You need context to get the timing right, the messaging right, and reach the right person, and the only way to arm people in an organisation with empathy is through context.”
Having the customer’s voice at the center of every engagement allows for the context needed to reveal meaningful patterns. “As an industry, we need to look at what we are doing, and why. What is NPS? It’s about advocacy. Advocacy is an important part of getting more customers, increasing loyalty and retention, and creating purchase or upsell opportunities. Today, we are measuring proxies for relevance, but CXtended asks for a change of mindset. Instead of the journey, we need to think about each state in each stage of the journey. Advocacy is easily achieved if the company creates a story that customers will tell others about.”
In addition, he points out that CX is too often left out of the marketing loop. “CX has to get a seat at the marketing table. As things stand, CX is often not involved in the promises made to the customer. How can CX deliver without having all of the content – and context – provided by the whole ecosystem? The move from customer journey mapping to customer context mapping, CXtended, is the missing link that will move CX into the future,” Renzon adds.