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PHOTO: conner bowe

Get customer experience right and profit will follow. That’s the conclusion of a survey by Hotjar of 2,000 CX professionals published in November 2018. Only 12 percent of respondents regarded their companies as being mature when it came to customer experience.

“Customer experience leaders prioritize delivering an outstanding experience over everything else (yes, even over revenue),” the Hotjar survey states. The leaders focus on current customers, rather than obsessing about potential ones. They allocate a regular amount of time every week to make calls, meet for coffee or find out about the support issues of their customers. They follow the Golden Rule of customer experience: “Treat customers how you would like to be treated.”

Customer experience (CX) leaders focus on the basics. They talk directly to their customers, which, strange as it may seem, is actually quite rare. Most digital teams I have come across hardly ever see a customer. The survey also found that the CX leaders rely far less on ‘over-hyped’ methods such as chatbots, predictive analytics, live chat and social media. Again, the CX amateurs are always chasing the latest tool or method just for its own sake.

Customer feedback is the strategy for CX leaders. They design with customers. Feedback is their oxygen. Feedback drives the evolution of the strategy, and the strategy is always evolving based on customer feedback. Whereas the laggards in CX tend to depend on market trends, industry best practices, and hippos (highest paid person in the room), zebras (zero evidence but very arrogant) and seagulls (swoops in, poops an opinion, flies on).

While CX and user experience (UX) need particular champions, excellence can only be achieved if the entire organization is onboard, and that requires constant evangelism and training. It is essential that as many staff as possible see and feel the customer experience. They need to regularly see real customers attempt real tasks on the website. There needs to be regular discussion of real customer journeys that real customers actually go on. Customer research and feedback needs to be shared as widely as possible. The CX laggards live in a closed world and are focused on improving company operations and investing in new technology and software.

Speed is the defining metric for customer experience. Poison for the customer experience is waiting for a page to download or waiting for support to solve an issue. Unnecessary steps, complicated forms, jargon-filled content, anything that slows down the customer, reduces the experience. Customer satisfaction is a word called "speed."

The metrics of CX and UK are founded in the customer experience. Did the customer complete their task? How long did it take them? CX laggards focus on often fake, volume-based metrics such as impressions or page views.

You cannot do customer or user experience well if you don’t know your customers inside out. You cannot know your customers if you don’t regularly interact with them. Getting out there into the world of your customers is the single most important thing you can do if you want to deliver excellent CX and UX.