Emily Stevenson, Women in CX: "Customer experience needs equal representation at board level"by
As part of the ongoing ‘Reimagining CX’ series, Purple Square’s Tim Biddiscombe talks with Women in CX member and mobile industry customer experience leader Emily Stevenson about the importance of pricing, connecting people, and c-level representation.
Born out of the need for support and connection during the pandemic, Women in CX is a growing digital community set up for female allies to share ideas, problems and solutions with each other. It is built on the values of courage, collaboration, bravery and authenticity.
Women in CX not only provides an invaluable network of support to its worldwide members like mobile industry customer experience leader Emily Stevenson, but also helps to strengthen the voices of women and emphasise the importance of CX in the boardroom.
“The CX industry is 70% women, many of whom still struggle to have their voices heard. CX is perceived as a softer metric but – like marketing and digital – needs equal representation at board level through chief customer officers,” explains Stevenson.
“Without it, decisions are made solely based on commercial value, which is no longer enough. Brands must deliver business AND customer benefits to survive in this difficult economic climate.”
The price is right
With all the signs pointing to the UK remaining in a recession for the rest of 2023 and possibly beyond, brands and their boards need to focus on meeting the needs of their customers now more than ever. Pricing is of the utmost importance, especially as individuals and families tighten their budgets and look to cut out any non-essentials.
“It is easy to forget about CX during a recession, as consumers focus more on price than brands, but getting customer journeys right is hugely important in the current climate,” Stevenson explained.
“We are likely to see churn increase in subscription marketing as customers cut back to essentials. When it comes to CX, these companies need to identify the pain points that matter most. They need to keep things super simple with fewer, bigger, better projects delivered well.”
While subscription services like mobile phones will remain essential, Stevenson believes consumers will be on the lookout for deals on any out-of-bundle spend that can help them save on their bills, such as multi-line discounts for families and households or limitless data.
Some providers offer extras at lower rates, allowing customers to use their phone plan to subscribe to streaming services, music events or access to discounts on brands they love.
Tapping into communities by partnering with local shops, services or charities can also help create a meaningful customer experience during tough times.
For example, Vodafone’s partnership with Local Blend allows its subscribers to enjoy a yearlong 25% discount at their favourite coffee shops – allowing them to support their local business as well as save money.
Other big brands are quite literally using their high street presence to support and connect with the communities they serve.
“There has never been a greater opportunity to maximise the value of the retail estate,” said Stevenson. “In response to rising energy costs, some big brand banks, telcos and retailers are providing safe spaces this winter by offering a place for people to charge their phones, have a cup of tea or coffee and keep warm without having to worry about what it will add to their heating bills."
However brands choose to connect with and support their communities, Stevenson believes there is a duty of care to be considered when it comes to CX: “Telcos need to be able to make sure their customers can continue to afford their contracts, and if they can’t, their providers should be looking at how to make affordable broadband more available to avoid sending them into digital poverty.”
Prioritising pain points: Data and CX
Using data to understand the issues customers are facing as well as to personalise and improve their customer experience is “100% essential,” explained Stevenson. “I have been a strong advocate for data and analytics within marketing, when it comes to CX.
“Platforms like Quantum Metric factor customer behaviours into the equation and are able to attach a value to certain customer pain points, helping to quantify and prioritise the most pressing issues. This level of analytics is especially useful for reporting to the board when it comes to deciding which challenges to address, invest in and solve first.”
Access to the right data and analytics is “key to avoiding the temptation to solve all problems. Instead, it allows brands to focus on the issues that matter most to their customers while delivering incremental improvement on the user experience,” said Stevenson.
“Martech and analytics also give chief marketing officers the confidence – and the proof points – to justify the need to increase marketing spend to ensure the best possible CX for the full customer lifecycle, earning lifetime loyalty.”
While data’s role is essential in CX, weathering the coming storm will take more than analytics alone.
For Stevenson, it is essential that companies begin to prioritise CX by elevating it to c-suite employees and getting them engaged: “The next 12 months is all about finding your focus and secret sauce. Always remember it’s about your audience. Don’t be afraid to be experimental. Fail fast, learn quickly and trust your team to get it right.”