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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Unlock the drivers behind an exceptional CX

In today’s market, what matters to customers should also matter most to brands. Once organizations identify what motivates consumers to shop at and advocate for their brand, they can narrow their focus to specific audience segments and ensure their CX priorities are where they need to be.

Unlock the drivers behind an exceptional CX
[Chaay_tee / Adobe Stock]

Brands are struggling to stand out in today’s crowded customer experience-led (CX) landscape. With fierce competition and seemingly endless engagement opportunities, brands need to avoid gimmicks and provide experiences that deliver what customers actually value.

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The need to identify the experiences customers really want inspired the Truth & Beauty Index—an effort by my company to uncover what drives customers’ purchasing decisions and brand advocacy. The index breaks down the factors that encourage consumers to buy and identifies the characteristics that instill brand advocacy across four sectors: consumer goods, financial services, wellness, and health care.

Beautiful, purposeful, and functional CX draws inspiration from the humans it serves—not its shareholders. In today’s market, what matters to customers should also matter most to brands. Once organizations identify what motivates consumers to shop at and advocate for their brand, they can narrow their focus to specific audience segments and ensure their CX priorities are grounded in consumers’ actual preferences.

CX ISN’T AS SIMPLE AS IT USED TO BE

Every consumer, whether consciously or unconsciously, harbors needs and expectations from the brands they shop with. These range from functional needs like price to emotional needs like empowerment. In the Truth & Beauty Index, we interviewed nearly 3,000 consumers to identify the top 10 attributes that embody the things today’s consumers want from their customer experience:

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  • Price/value
  • Brand stature
  • Privacy/control
  • Trust/transparency
  • Access/availability
  • Ease
  • Empathy
  • Principles
  • Empowerment
  • Disruption

Straightforward, right? Not so much. Think about your favorite retailer. Do you like shopping there because of its affordable prices or is it because of the personalized offers they send you every week? Maybe affordable pricing is a must-have for you when initially choosing a brand, but personalized offers are what keep you coming back—and what drives you to recommend the brand to a family member. This is what we refer to as stated importance versus derived importance. Stated importance drives choice, but derived importance drives advocacy.

In addition to differentiating between stated and derived importance, brands also face a paradox of choice. There are so many ways to reach your customers, but how do you know which is the right choice for your audience? Do they want an easy-to-use mobile app? Do they want to support a brand with values similar to their own? Without tailoring your approach, you risk wasted CX spending and disengaged customers.

Further complicating brands’ ability to provide exceptional CX are generational, geographical and industry differences. For example, we found that in the consumer goods category, shoppers crave a fun shopping experience and shared values. But attributes like empowerment and trust/transparency drive consumers to select their health care brands and providers. Also, an attribute that appeals to consumers on the East Coast may not have the same effect on West Coast shoppers.

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Understanding the nuances of today’s CX can help you speak more directly to your customers’ needs. Breaking through this noise will improve your bottom line and can help you build a loyal customer base.

3 QUESTIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR CX

While consumer needs vary by industry, the Truth & Beauty Index revealed that price is the most important attribute across all industries (with the exception of health care). Following price is brand stature and then trust/transparency, forming the three foundational pillars of an exceptional CX.

In addition to identifying consumers’ top requirements for CX, the index offers insights into how to form deeper, long-lasting connections with customers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few questions that can help you achieve a better understanding of exceptional CX:

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• Do your business initiatives align with what your customers actually want? This question may be intimidating at first. But with the right strategy and data-driven CX technology, you can identify where your shoppers’ priorities lie. Nearly a third of consumers would switch to a competitor after a single bad experience with a brand, so it’s worth it to invest in the discovery of your customers’ needs. From here, you can determine whether your CX initiatives are actually adding value to your brand and your customers’ experiences.

• Can you fill any gaps in your CX offerings? Once you’ve identified whether your strategy is in line with what your customers want, you can fill in existing gaps. If your priority is to provide a fun shopping experience, but your customers actually want a convenient experience, you can tailor your approach to prioritize convenience over fun.

• Is your CX consistent across all platforms and channels? If you differentiate your brand by its seamless, convenient shopping experiences—but your mobile app is confusing to use—you create brand inconsistencies. Nearly two-thirds of consumers would become long-term customers of brands that provide a consistent CX throughout the entire buyer journey. So, ensure the tone, messaging, and imagery are consistent across channels.

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As the CX landscape evolves, there are countless ways to reach and engage customers. But to create truly meaningful experiences, you need to uncover what your customers actually want. And when you speak directly to your customers, you can take CX to the next level and drive brand advocacy.


Owen Frivold, EVP of Strategy and co-founder at Hero Digital

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