“Customer experience” (CX) has become a convenient catch-all for businesses navigating our current mobile and digital age. Not that it’s a new concept; the ever-convenient Ngram viewer shows its use has risen in lockstep with the rise of eCommerce and mass Internet use. (I’d venture a guess that after 2008, the last year available, it resumed its inexorable rise from a post-dotcom dip).
But especially in the past two to three years, when silos are falling, marketers are taking over IT spending, and every customer is omni-channel, the concept of an overarching customer experience has flourished. Businesses have realized that it no longer makes sense to split hairs between experiences of in-store, catalog shopping, desktop digital, and mobile. In fact, respondents of an Econsultancy and Adobe survey said optimizing the customer experience was “the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead” more than any other option – beating out such categories as digital content creation.
As with any broad, buzzy idea, there are conflicting ideas about what CX actually means and what improving it looks like. The Econsultancy/Adobe survey also asked where, within the realm of improving CX, businesses’ highest emphasis lay. Their findings reveal a distinct preference for personalization and value delivery:
This is a great representation of the kind of cart-before-the-horse mentality that always comes part and parcel with new trends. To us, having worked with hundreds of retail and media companies striving to improve CX, delivering advanced features like personalization is something to focus on once a solid technical foundation has been laid. And yet, since they’re the most exciting and most easily understood (especially to executives thinking strategically about the top line), new features get the most emphasis within the organization.
One can hardly blame a business for thinking big and trying to stay ahead of the curve on topics with juicy potential like personalization. But they may be dissapointed with the results. What we consider to be the first-order items are buried at the end of the list with tiny percentages for emphasis: “making our experience as fast as possible” and “making our experience as mobile-friendly as possible.” This is a dangerous arrangement of priorities.
If you put the cart in front, at least make sure your horse is strong
Why is it so dangerous for these aspects of CX to be at the bottom of the barrel? It’s because they’re the table stakes! Think about it: no matter how your online experience looks or feels, it’s not going to deliver value if users bounce away because the page takes too long to load (as 40% will after 3 seconds of waiting) or if mobile users are frustrated by a mediocre small-screen experience (just a 500 millisecond delay on mobile causes frustration to jump by 25%). We’ve seen firsthand that sites loaded up with a rich set of features often struggle the most with performance and mobile, and addressing these fundamentals is what ends up having the biggest net impact on conversions, engagement, and revenue.
The bottom line: users have a litany options for how to spend their time online; they care more about whether your app loads quickly and is intuitive to navigate than if it has personalization features or incrementally better content. Getting the customer experience locked in with speed, consistency, and mobile ease-of-use should be the first priority.
To fix your priorities, get CEXi
These are ideas we’ve codified into an index that measures customer experience: the CEXi. Speed, device parity, and performance power are the keystones of the scoring. Using the index will help you gain a better perspective on how actual, real-world users percieve your web and mobile applications, rather than other considerations, like how well the design fits with internal company goals. We invite you to get your score and see how you benchmark against competitors!
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