Event recap: Argyle Customer Experience Leadership Forum Chicago

On June 12, I joined the Argyle Customer Experience (CX) Leadership Forum in Chicago, with a theme around building customer loyalty. As always, it’s a delight to rub elbows with others in the CX industry to share insights and stories about what they’re doing to represent the needs of their customers.

A surprising number of attendees were from industries that traditionally haven’t invested in CX, such as manufacturing, logistics, insurance, and pharmaceuticals. From our conversations, it’s clear that the value of a dedicated CX function is spreading from B2C to B2B. Chief Customer Officers and Chief Customer Experience Officers are appearing in organizations that would never have considered such a role before. Their agendas are sometimes undefined, but often center around how to get value out of tons of available data that’s not being mined for information. It’s no longer limited to the world of CIOs, Chief Data Officers, or data scientists and analyst teams: practical business contributors want to use data they already have to better satisfy customers, eliminate friction points, and improve efficiency.

I spoke on a panel titled Improving the Digital Customer Experience”, moderated by Jerri Helms, Senior Director of Digital Marketing Initiatives at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. The panel included Cindy Welsh of Advocate Healthcare Network, Laurel Miltner running Digital Strategy at JLL, and Sanjay Monga, VP of Marketing and CX at Zurich.

We started off discussing how companies collect customer feedback to improve experience. There’s a wide range of maturity levels, from individuals manually interviewing customers and tabulating results, to operationalized NPS and Customer Effort Surveys, to teams with dozens of analysts diving deep into structured and unstructured customer feedback. One common theme was the idea that CX metrics give you vital signs, but not diagnoses – CX practitioners have to work a lot harder to understand the reasons driving higher or lower numbers from feedback. We went on to discuss other data that CX teams can collect to get those insights besides surveys, like in-app or website behavior; how to segment customers based on the data they’re giving us; and how that data can be used to better map a customer journey.

Most head nodding from the crowd came from our assertions that there’s no way to get a true 360-degree view of the customer. That’s because the amount of data being generated for each customer is so voluminous, no human or machine can digest it all and present a coherent picture for someone to act on. Rather than focusing on that impossible task, we should shift our thinking to how to make data usable. For instance, we can decide on a specific question about a cohort of customers, and then poll data for insights to answer that question.

In regard to the future of CX, we talked about the revolution that’s coming in how to act on customer data. Technologies such as ours at Luminoso are, for the first time, letting CX teams analyze unstructured data with a much quicker turnaround. As verbatim analyses from satisfaction surveys become less of a quarterly or annual affair and more of a daily or weekly heartbeat, CX teams are going to become much more nimble in their abilities to act on problems that customers are reporting to them.

Jeff Foley, VP of Marketing at Luminoso, has spent over 23 years working with CRM, CX, customer service, and natural language technologies.