Are you on track to reach your customers’ hearts as well as their minds?

16/02/2017 By Tim Sander

I read the other day that customer experience (also known as CX) and engagement is going to become an ever-greater priority in a digitally-driven world. It’s a strategic priority everywhere – across industries, channels and devices, as both a commercial discipline and a competitive differentiator.

What’s more, we’re told, companies must aim for their customers’ hearts, not just their heads, because experience is the sum of how customers feel as they engage with the company over time – therefore we must measure not just the functional product, but the emotional experience.

Well, this is all …absolutely true. In reality, of course, the business implications of poor customer experience vary across sectors and consumer segments, depending on the competitive and regulatory context. Where consumers have attractive alternatives, failure to deliver leads swiftly to loss of revenue and market share. But even in a monopoly scenario, the commercial implications of poor customer experience can be unpalatable. There is usually a cost to picking up the bits – handling complaints, paying fines, compensating customers, or managing high absenteeism, staff turnover and low morale.

This week BVA BDRC is launching a new service, the Rail Reputation Index, which uses a Net Promoter Score (NPS) Benchmarking formula already successfully deployed by BVA BDRC across other service sectors. In financial services, for example, the likes of Nationwide, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and TSB are all now actively working with the insights from Moments of Truth, our NPS benchmarking of various consumer experiences within financial services.

The rail sector already has some well-established customer metrics, so why introduce a new one?

The first reason relates to the point about experience being about how customers feel over-time about a brand. Metrics such as those included within the National Rail Passenger Survey play a valuable role in the regulatory environment, measuring customer satisfaction systematically across journey types. But for train operating companies (TOCs), there is also a commercial imperative in developing better, more profitable relationships with customers. These are formed over time and increasingly are the product of interactions with customers across multiple touch-points – not just a single train journey in isolation.

The second reason comes back to the digitally-driven, omni-channel world that we all operate in. It’s not just about a train journey from A to B, (important as that is). Customers’ standards for purchasing and ticketing are formed by ‘the best’ experiences they have with leading companies across every other service or product they buy, raising the bar for everyone. Ticketing technology and mobile apps are a challenge as well as a great opportunity for the sector. Through advanced analytics, we will be tracking the impact of consumer technology on customer loyalty, identifying the brands which are ahead of the game.

Finally, while it’s good practice to learn from outside your own industry, our experience shows that measures like the Net Promoter Score are at their best with like-for-like benchmarking.  The cold reality of how comparable businesses are performing can provide a powerful dynamic for improvement.

With the Rail Reputation Index, TOCs have the freedom to pick their benchmarks, looking at data at a representative ‘headline’ level, while also accessing robust comparisons across segments such as commuters, business and leisure passengers – with clear, commercially grounded recommendations for both brand and service strategy.