Trust, inclusivity, always being of service, and going above and beyond are now major factors in creating the most meaningful customer experience, reports the 2022 X Index from Havas CX, Havas Group’s global customer experience network. The X Index, which is in its fourth year, surveyed 50,000 consumers across nine markets (US, UK, France, China, Brazil, Turkey, India, Portugal and Spain) and evaluated the customer experience performance of 500 brands. It found that while seamlessness, simplicity and efficiency are still imperative to customer experience, brands must also fulfil citizen expectations to satisfy consumers.
Compiling the ratings of all interactions that consumers may have with a brand throughout their journey – from the brand image to their life with the product or service itself, through the relationship (both push and pull), the customer service and the purchase journey – the 2022 X Index found that brand image is the main discriminating factor across all countries. This ranged from 54% of those surveyed in Spain, to 46% in the U.S. and 41% in Turkey. Consumers also ranked 35 discriminating criteria as part of the customer experience analysis, evaluating their importance through statements like “I trust this brand,” “This brand always keeps its commitments,” “The staff is expert and knowledgeable” and “The purchase process is seamless.”
Despite heavy customer experience investment by brands, there’s still room for improvement with only a global average of 40% of consumers thinking the brands they interact with are “centred on their needs as a customer.” This year’s X Index research reveals that increased consumer expectations around trust, sustainability and inclusivity are now impacting the evaluation of customer experience, with brands being assessed on the concrete actions they deliver to create a welcoming experience for all – shifting the traditional idea of customer experience to citizen experience.
The X Index identified four key overarching principles to create a best-in-class citizen experience:
COMMIT TO TRUST
Brand trust is the most powerful denominator around the globe, demonstrating the importance of creating conditions for trust throughout the customer journey. In all countries this year, the main discriminating criterion is 'I trust this brand,' which represents 31% of the X Index for brick-and-mortar brands in France, 30% for brick-and-mortar brands in the US and up to 42% for pure player (digital native, online-only) brands in the UK.
Brands build trust by keeping their commitments to customers and being there in times of crisis. For example, brands that optimised their shopping experience during the Covid-19 pandemic saw better results; these optimisations included moving many traditionally in-person services online (consultations, etc.), and taking advantage of new platforms to integrate community building and social components.
Brands also build trust with transparent business practices and by making commitments to social causes. However, brands must follow through and keep these commitments. A brand that highlights privacy policies, for example, can be even more vulnerable if those policies are later reversed or violated.
BUILD AN EXPERIENCE THAT INCLUDES EVERYONE
For customer experience to become a citizen experience, brands must be inclusive. This starts with caring for employees, ensuring the user experience is welcoming to all, and infusing a sense of community around brand purpose and actions.
According to the X Index, consumers evaluate brands at every step of the journey, including the way they treat their frontline employees. Brands are judged on being welcoming to all, with consumers recognising and rewarding efforts to foster inclusivity and break taboos in representation and marketing. Inclusivity also means enabling customers to participate in a community, with some brands introducing forums, clubs and apps for customers to connect and interact with each other.
“User experience is inclusive and welcoming to all” makes it to the top 10 of discriminating criteria in three countries, including the UK and France. “This brand makes me feel like I’m part of a community” makes it to the top 10 in four out of the nine countries, including China and Spain.
ALWAYS BE OF SERVICE
Customer service is now defined by the speed of the reaction to customer demands. “Customer service reacts promptly to my requests” is discriminating in six of the nine countries, being number three in the US and number four in China for brick-and-mortar brands. Reacting quickly has never been so essential, and consumers have become time intolerant. In addition, when it comes to a brand’s staff and salespeople, consumers not only expect them to be efficient but also knowledgeable.
PROVIDE FOR THE AGE OF EXTRA
When it comes to satisfying customers, going the extra mile is of paramount importance for brands. A key part of going above and beyond is making sure the experience feels extra personal. The personalisation criterion is the third most important factor for pure players in the US and France, and the fourth most important in Brazil. “Providing extra attention that go beyond expectations” also makes it into the top five in the US, Brazil, and Spain.
Sébastien Houdusse, chief strategy officer of Havas CX agency BETC Fullsix, says: “Although $641B will be spent on CX technologies in 2022, customer centricity has not been achieved – nor will it until brands evolve their thinking around customer experience to citizen experience. The latest X Index defines a new era where customer experience becomes meaningful by integrating citizen expectations. Of course, brands still must meet functional criteria around efficient customer service – and they have to do it right, otherwise they’ll not even be considered. But to be recognised among the best, brands will have to go the extra mile and deliver concrete actions beyond their commitments.”
The full X Index 2022 whitepaper is available to download via the havascx.com website.
Methodology: Created in partnership with research institute OpinionWay in 2018, the Havas X Index proprietary tool serves as a global barometer to measure and maximise customer experience.
In 2021, Havas deployed the X Index across nine countries—China, France, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, Turkey, Portugal and Spain—surveying 50,000 adults about more than 500 brands. These brands operate in a variety of industries, from fast food and fashion to transportation, technology, and finance, and include both ‘bricks and clicks’ (brick-and-mortar brands that have gone through the digital transformation) and ‘pure players’ (digital native, online only).
Havas’ research team sought to analyse each brand across 35 criteria, with each respondent responsible for rating two brands with which they had at least one shopping experience during the previous 12 months. Each measure relates to one of the essential steps of any customer journey: the brand itself, the relationship between the customer and brand (both push and pull), the purchase journey, and the experience with the product/service. Finally, we asked each respondent about their overall satisfaction with the customer experience.
The Havas CX data department designed the X Index by applying a linear regression model. It used univariate correlation analysis to obtain a more robust model:
This data model determines what are the most discriminating criteria that define the efficiency of customer experience among the 35 items that were put in the model at the start. This model builds an unbiased approach to CX efficiency and provides the means to compare what makes a good customer experience for bricks and clicks brands and pure players, and also enables comparison of results between countries.