Don’t settle: Looking past your own industry is often the key to great customer experience

Earlier this year, the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings were published. To generate these ratings, the Temkin Group asks 10,000 US consumers to rate their recent interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. There are large variations by vertical, but why? What causes these differences in customer experience and what should companies in underperforming industries do about it?
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Evaluate your customer experience compared to other industries

Earlier this year, the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings were published, and as a person that is tasked with looking at the market with an industry-specific eye, I always find these annual rankings fascinating. To generate these ratings, the Temkin Group asks 10,000 US consumers to rate their recent interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. Temkin then evaluates their experiences across three dimensions: success, effort and emotion.

When I first came across the ratings several years ago, I have to admit that those three elements shifted my thinking a bit. Most days I had been working with metrics like engagement rate, first contact resolution and conversion rate, and those components reminded me that what matters in the end is how individual consumers view their interaction with your company.

It’s reassuring to see so many Nuance customers doing well in the ratings and consistently leading their industries in customer experience – sometimes by a wide margin. What interests me most though, are the variations by vertical. Supermarkets (78% rating) and fast food chains (76%) lead the way in the rankings, with retailers (74%), delivery services (73%) and banks (72%) just behind – these are all industries that we essentially choose to do business with, or at least we have a significant amount of choice. We’ve decided to visit a particular grocery store, or maybe have them deliver to us. Perhaps we became fed up (emotion) with a bank that didn’t make it easy for us to transfer money on our mobile app or easily get answers through a virtual assistant or live chat on their website. The choice is ours and we’re tending to choose those companies that make it easy for us to interact with them (effort) and accomplish what we wanted to do (success).

At the other end of the ratings, we see TV and internet service (54%) at the very bottom, with health plans (57%) just ahead of them. As opposed to those at the top, these are industries where the consumer often has little or no choice in who they patronize. With a health plan, you’re often limited to an option or two through your employer, or as an individual, you may have several choices if you live in an urban area, but only one in less-populated areas. So, are companies in these industries not investing in the people and technology necessary to elevate the customer experience? There may be some truth to that for some companies, but Kaiser Permanente and AOL lead their respective verticals in customer experience by a fair amount – it’s clear that their leadership is devoting resources to this area – in fact, Kaiser outperforms its competitors by more than any company in the survey.

What’s the takeaway for me? Kaiser and AOL didn’t settle. Neither should you.

Be a leader in your category – there are gains to be made in customer conversion, care and retention by looking past your own industry norms for such things as customer self-service and automation. So, borrow ideas and innovation from other industries. Make your IVR easy to navigate and accomplish tasks in with speech recognition that enables customers to interact with the system naturally as many retailers have (success).  Remember that 47% of customers will stop doing business with a company if they have a bad IVR experience. Implement a virtual assistant and/or live chat on your website like many banks – remember that 90% of customers expect a consistent experience across channels. Engage with vendors that have had success across industries so that you can leverage their expertise to outdistance your own industry competitors.

The bottom line? Customer experiences in other industries are shaping their expectations of yours.

Don’t settle.

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look past your own industry

The 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings show large variations by vertical. What should companies in underperforming industries do about it? Don’t settle: look at what other industries are doing.

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Vance Clipson

About Vance Clipson

Vance Clipson, senior principal, industry solutions for Nuance Communications, focuses on vertical-specific marketing and strategy with an emphasis on healthcare. Clipson brings 25 years of experience translating industry needs and data into market strategy and programs for Milliman, PacifiCare Health Systems and the American Cancer Society.