The changing face of European Customer Experience
How good are European companies at delivering the customer experience that consumers demand? The latest Forrester research paints a mixed picture, with companies in the UK, France and Germany all lagging behind the United States.
The recently released Forrester 2017 European Customer Experience Indexes found that CX worsened in the UK, stayed poor in France and made slight improvements in Germany. These results are based on a survey of over 27,000 European consumers, who were asked for their opinions on 96 brands.
In the UK just under 50% of brands saw their scores drop, with even high-performing companies not improving from 2016. More than half of French brands were classed as poor or very poor when it came to CX, with none ranked in the Excellent or Good categories. And while five German brands saw their scores increase dramatically, none was classed as Excellent.
These findings echo the results of the 2017 Eptica Multichannel Customer Conversation Study, which was carried out in the UK and France. This replicated the behaviour of consumers, by evaluating the speed and quality of the customer experience provided by top brands across the web, email, social media and chat channels. While it provides a different perspective to the Forrester research, the overall conclusions are extremely similar:
The worst drop in performance was on social media, where brands successfully responded to just 34% of tweets and 35% of Facebook messages. In 2016 the corresponding figures were 48% and 45% respectively.
In France 43% of brands failed to answer on any channel, up from 14% in 2016.
Just 7% could provide a consistent response on two channels, with none able to do so on three or four channels.
How can European brands turn around their performance and meet customer needs? As well as basic steps, such as providing sufficient resources to quickly answer queries, Forrester points out the growing importance of emotion to the customer relationship. Put simply, consumers want to have meaningful conversations, based on empathy and understanding if they are to engage with brands and remain loyal. In Forrester’s study the top five brands provided an average of 16 emotionally positive experiences for each negative experience, whereas the bottom five delivered just seven emotionally positive experiences for each negative one.
Going beyond the basics and delivering a positive emotional experience is not easy, but one key way to increase empathy and understanding is to empower your frontline staff. Give them the knowledge they need to do their job, and deploy artificial intelligence-based systems that analyze incoming queries and help them better understand what customers are asking for. This frees up their time to focus on the consumer, and their needs, improving the experience and driving loyalty. With Forrester warning that 2018 will be ‘a year of reckoning’ for poor performers, it has never been more important to invest in transforming your customer experience.