Customer-led disruption has dramatically impacted business blurring the physical, digital and emotional worlds with the customer at the center. Organizations that have built on human needs and responded to customers with innovation and value have reaped the rewards. How are these organizations thriving in today’s vibrant and ever changing environment?

The power of perception

The answer lies in customer experience.  Defined as the customer’s perception of all the interactions they have with an organization and the value it creates for them, customer experience encompasses emotions, memories and value created with each interaction. Successful organizations transform themselves to be customer-led through the professional discipline of customer experience management.

These transformations have accounted for significant growth in revenue, and in a recent study by Avanade/Sitecore respondents reported their companies realized $3 in benefits for every $1 invested in improving customer experiences. Four out of ten respondents reported increased revenues, 38 percent said they achieved better financial performance than their competitors, and 37 percent said they improved sales cycles.

“While loyalty was originally viewed as how often customers return to a brand, today loyalty reflects how intentional a customer is with a brand.”

Letting customers lead

While loyalty was originally viewed as how often customers return to a brand, today loyalty reflects how intentional a customer is with a brand. Customers are willing to pay more if they feel a connection to the brand, and the brand reflects them. Loyalty and reward programs deepen these bonds.

Technology has also shaken up consumer behavior and driven price transparency and new ways of interacting. Organizations implementing methods of listening to these interactions, acting on them and being responsive to the consumer are creating a significant advantage. Surveys, Reward programs, and Community Portals are just a few means by which to create listening opportunities and facilitate positive interactions with consumers.

The critical nature of this work has led to a rise in executive focus centered on cultural change and organizational adoption of customer, employee and partner-centric thinking. All C-Suite executives have a role in transforming their company’s customer experience (CX), and should foster their employees’ development of new skills, techniques and approaches like loyalty reward programs, customer journey mapping, customer listening rooms and more.

Customer experience must be embedded into the DNA of the company. Cross-organizational adoption is driven by customer experience professionals with the skills, fortitude and experience to lead change. In 2014, the CXPA established a robust certification to recognize experts in this field. Today there are over 400 Certified Customer Experience Professionals.

We must continue to provide executives and customer experience professionals with resources through shared best practices, ongoing leading edge conversations and exposure to solutions. We need to drive consumer and marketplace awareness of the profession and continue to showcase organizations striving to be customer-centered. These organizations are witness to an economy where the only differentiation is now the customer experience.