Customer experience (CX) in eCommerce is more critical than ever. Expectations for quality service are not just high at every step along the customer journey, they are set to ‘flawless’. After all, any kink in the process and the prospect of a customer completing their order begins to diminish, let alone holding onto them for repeat business.
With a challenging economic outlook already having an impact for industry across the globe, Forrester Planning Guide 2023: Customer Experience says that ‘it is crucial that CX leaders invest to ensure their programs are as effective and efficient as possible to insulate themselves against unexpected budget cuts…
By its very nature, CX needs to be focused on improving customer satisfaction, but is it always aligned well with business KPIs? In it’s Q1 Global State of Customer Experience Programs Forrester identifies that the majority of CX professionals prioritize customer impact (61%), and this is ten points higher than business impact (51%). Only 45% identified the return on investment as priority.
If Forrester’s advice on protecting budgets is to be heeded, then it would also make sense to better align customer experience goals with business goals. In this blog we are going to look at how exactly that can be achieved. But first, let’s take a look at some of the common issues that get in the way of demonstrating the value of CX initiatives.
Barriers to reporting customer experience ROI
Showing the results of CX improvements with outcomes that are measurable against the bottom line has always been challenging. According to Forrester Q1 Global State of Customer Experience Programs Survey, only 46% of CX professionals make the business case for each CX project. For those that do, 41% show the CX program’s contribution to improving business metrics, and 38% show its contribution to improving CX quality metrics. The survey identifies the barriers to implementing effective CX projects as: not having the technology budgets (24%), lacking measurement data on customer experience (22%), lacking customer insights (21%), and the ability to make a business case (16%) for CX. While data is always a key component of any business case, these results would suggest that it is in short supply where customer experience is concerned. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
In the Emporix-commissioned infographic based on the Forrester survey, Forrester points to underinvestment in the types of tools that are going to make the difference. It says ‘CX professionals underinvest in advanced CX tools. Organizations lack insights from unstructured data to measure the impact of CX program initiatives.’ For example, only 28% currently use business intelligence tools.
Often, when seeking improvements to the digital journeys of customers, CX professionals begin by deconstructing eCommerce from the user’s perspective. In other words, working on improvements that will demonstrate an impact on the frontend of the website. This could include changes such as better navigation, a chat bot to answer customer queries, or hosting more dynamic content such as video demos or 3D product specs to provide richer information. All of these things are really useful, but are they always optimized to deliver more revenue, or to save costs or time spent on customer support? While they will improve frontend customer experience, do they always also impact the bottom line? Are there other initiatives that can achieve both?
Download an Emporix-commissioned infographic based on the 2023 Planning Guide for Customer Experience by Forrester.
Making the link between customer satisfaction and business KPIs
The world of eCommerce continues to develop fast, and with it come new innovations that are designed not only to make the journey from browser to shopping cart to purchase to delivery smoother, but to transform entire underlying business processes. After all, a successful business today is led by how well it can join up all of its varied processes and get them working together to best effect.
It’s from this idea that process mining has come to the fore. This is a method of discovering, monitoring and improving business processes by ‘mining’ into the data from all sources across a business and gathering insights on how to optimize them. This technology helps to turn data science into operational improvements, and it does so through automation.
For example, how about feeding data from stock controls into the CX journey so that products that are not selling as well as others can be automatically promoted and positioned at opportune moments of a customer interaction, or used as intelligent substitutions. This could be further targeted by combining individual customer data to make sure that suitable products are promoted or substituted to those that are more likely to appeal to a specific customer, based on purchasing history. Or how about leveraging data regarding on-time delivery metrics to ensure that customers that need faster receipt of their goods are presented with suitable alternatives from suppliers with a higher on-time delivery confidence score? This will ensure that you improve customer satisfaction through smooth sales processes, with the added benefits of looking after the relationships with preferred suppliers and, most importantly, it will mean that buyers will be less likely to abandon their shopping cart before checkout, so more digital sales transactions will be completed.
While intuitively the CX professional will be concerned with how well the elements of the frontend play in harmony to create the customer experience - the customer-facing part of the business - it is a mistake to not also join this up with the engines that are running in the backend in this way. As these execution scenarios demonstrate, with process mining and the right orchestration of insight-based actions there is the opportunity to make better connections between CX and revenue growth.
How about an automated solution that delivers on both improving CX and supporting business KPIs?
In it’s planning guide report, Forrester talks about journey orchestration as ‘a thoughtful approach to designing customer journeys that helps organizations respond to changing customer behaviors in real time, help integrate quantitative and qualitative customer insights in a journey context, and bridge the gap between data science and design researchers.’
To do so in practice relies on joining the dots between inventory, pricing strategies, customer data, marketing tools and the frontend display. In the past, this would need to be identified and then actioned manually, juggling with all the different processes to tie it all together. Now, however, with a platform that combines process mining technology and orchestration, you have the ability to automate dynamic customer engagement in a way that marries sales-focused actions - the ROI - with the customer experience.
The Emporix Commerce Execution Platform (CXP) has been built in combination with leaders in process mining, Celonis Labs, to achieve exactly this. It will dynamically personalize customer journeys based on real-time, end-to-end process intelligence so that ROI on CX can be measured through both typical customer satisfaction metrics and a direct impact on sales. Best of all, it will execute this automatically, and at the very same time as a customer is interacting with a commerce environment. Businesses are able to lean on the power of automation to better influence buyer interactions in a way that is both instantly reactive and data-driven. This significantly raises the bar on matching customer satisfaction metrics with profitability goals.
In fact, it is possible to measure the impact of these initiatives at the process mining stage, as the Celonis process mining engine finds the existing inefficiencies and Celonis team can support you with a calculation on the returns that you can expect by implementing them. In other words, CXP can uncover inefficiencies and attach a monetary value to the solution, which will be invaluable in building a measurable business case.
You can find more information on the different use cases that are now possible through CXP, and how its low code environment enables users to build their own, specific execution scenarios ( automated workflows that execute against collected insights), here.