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The best way to win the race to lead the CX conversation? Be an active listener

By Will Brennan

Listening actively to customers and coworkers is surprisingly challenging, especially when it comes to Customer Experience (CX). It’s great to offer expert insights on CX, but if you don’t have a way to listen actively to customers and coworkers and understand which aspects of the experience need your attention, those insights won’t matter.

According to our latest What Works Where 2018 (WWW2018) research, marketers rule when it comes to leading the CX conversation. Here’s why.

Own the voice of the customer. Marketers are uniquely placed to understand the voice of the customer, how to tune into pain points, etc. Requesting customer feedback at various points during their purchasing journey, and asking their sales team to complete a customer brand assessment are just two built-in opportunities marketers have to dig deep to learn about attitudes and concerns about CX.

Work easily across disciplines. Marketers’ interactions with other communications disciplines give them a unique window into sizing up CX issues and solving for them. They break silos to bring to bear the integrated expertise of sales, customer service, HR and IT teams to create a whole that’s greater than its parts. When marketers lead a full-on attack to solve CX issues from all sides, both client-facing and internal CX operations improve exponentially.

Have the corner on empathy. Active listening requires concentration, understanding, responding to what’s being said and then remembering it all, including the nuances; these are critical skills marketers must master to lead any conversation. And empathy is at the heart of all of them. Cognitive technologies like AI might be dramatically transforming the workplace—but they lack empathy. Since active listening is a trait still owned only by humans, marketers will always trump technology on leading the CX conversation.

CX is marketers’ fertile ground for growth
Despite these attributes, marketers are struggling when it comes to owning Customer Experience (CX). They, along with the companies they work for, are paying more attention to CX than ever before, with 75% of our survey respondents saying CX is increasing in importance. But only 23% say CX is fully embedded in their organisation. That means there’s plenty of room for growth. Furthermore, Forrester Research predicts 89% of businesses will compete primarily on CX by 2020, but, according to WWW2018 research, only 16% of today’s marketers fully owns CX.

The upshot? If marketers can crack the code on actively listening to their colleagues’ and customers’ fears and expectations about CX, they are well-positioned to lead the CX conversation to align intent and action.

How can marketers learn to lead through active listening?
Marketers won’t take on the role of drivers of CX conversion conversations overnight. To become attentive leaders of developing and managing CX, they must assume two responsibilities:

– first, acquiring and interpreting customers’ and colleagues’ insights about CX,

– and second, driving measurement of CX success.

It will take time and dogged determination for them to learn what methods of research and measurement work and don’t work based on feedback from customers and co-workers. In the meantime, here are some tried and true exercises for marketers to learn how to actively listen and frame the discussion for their organisations’ external and internal use:

To build out the customer experience:
1. Identify and map customer journeys to determine where to improve the User Experience

2. Develop customer personas to target the right audience(s)

3. Gain customer insights based on points of contact during the customer journey

To get your whole organisation on board the CX train:
1. Create and distribute employer brand surveys

2. Launch companywide initiatives to connect HR with IT, customer service and/or sales teams

3. Hold weekly meetings for peer-to-peer feedback

According to “What Works Where 2018,” the race to own the CX conversation has just begun, and marketers are in the lead. Who reaches the finish line first will hinge on who can learn and really own active listening first. We’re betting the house on marketers. They are smarter than any other players about the who, why and what of successful customer experience in every sense.

For more information on our research or to get in touch, please contact:
+44 (0) 20 7430 1557

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