According to Gartner Research, by 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.

Yet, at the end of 2016, only 1% could make that claim if Forrester Research’s 2016 U.S. Customer Experience Index is any indication. Just 1% of 319 brands evaluated by more than 120,000 consumers garnered an Excellent customer experience rating (a zero percent increase from 2015).

Only 17% of the brands’ customer experiences ranked in the next-best category (Good), while the majority (59%) sat at just OK. Twenty percent (20%) ranked Poor, with the remaining 3% falling in the Very Poor category.

Looking at the index’s results (which were very much the same across other countries), it may be a stretch for 89% of brands and organizations to say this year that their customer experience is their primary differentiator.

To move ahead, many may have to go back to the start.

Empower Employees, Engage Customers

While many organizations are focusing on creating a differentiated experience for their customers, they’re often not putting an equal focus on the people asked to deliver it – their employees.

A new 2017 Gallup survey finds that less than half of U.S. employees (just 41%) strongly agree that they know what makes their company's brand different from that of competitors. This means that brand promises and customer experience differentiators aren’t being delivered consistently or convincingly more than half the time.

According to the same Gallup report, “Like a muffled game of telephone, poor employee brand alignment leads to brand misunderstanding among consumers. This problem is a costly one: When customers aren't aligned with a brand promise, they give that brand less than half as much share of wallet as do customers who are aligned with that same brand promise (23% vs. 47%).”

Where to Start

Better communication and collaboration across the entire organization is key to building customer experience into any culture. A unified knowledge base is a terrific start to breaking down silos to make sure the customer experience is conveyed consistently to both employees and consumers. Internal collaboration tools also help keep more employees informed and engaged whether it’s across departments or across countries.

The Value of Experience

Does this inside out approach to customer experience pay off? Findings from the Avanade and Sitecore white paper, Customer Experience and the Bottom Line, show businesses that have made a concerted effort to improve the customer experience have seen lifetime customer values improve by 22%.

As a result of prioritizing the customer experience in the last 12 months, 58% of respondents say customer satisfaction has increased; 40% say revenue has increased; 37% have seen improved sales cycles, and 34% have witnessed increased profitability.

Every customer experience could be affected (negatively or positively) by any employee within your organization. Empower your employees to engage your customers. Start from the inside out.

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Learn More

In a Forrester report titled The Mandate for Intelligence Customer Service, Forrester Research outlines the challenges and the impact of customer service when it comes to the overall customer experience following a survey of top professionals. Find out what they had to say and how to improve your organization’s own customer service and customer experience.

Click here to access the Forrester Report.

To learn more about transformational tools that not only help to deliver a more consistent customer service experience, but a more consistent overall customer experience through better collaboration with sales, marketing and other departments, check out Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.