The X Index 2022 report, from Havas CX, Havas Group’s global customer experience network reports that trust, inclusivity, always being of service, and going above and beyond are now major factors in creating the most meaningful customer experience. The Havas Group India launched the Havas CX function in October 2020, which spans across 18 of its major Villages around the world, with key hubs in London, Paris, New York, and Mumbai.
The recent report surveyed 50,000 consumers across nine markets including the US, UK, France, China, Brazil, Turkey, India, Portugal, and Spain to evaluate 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.
According to the X Index India report parameters, the number 1 brand is Apple followed by Taj Hotels, KIA, MG, Hyundai, OnePlus, Boat, Cult.fit, Michelin, and JBL.
50 leading brands across 13 categories including retail, fashion, financial services, automotive, entertainment, hospitality, beauty, health, and more were studied from India for the recent study. What’s interesting is that among the six countries also surveyed a year earlier, only India registered a lower overall score in 2021 compared with 2020. The higher scores in the other five markets (China, France, Portugal, UK, and the US) point to rising satisfaction with the customer experience. What this means is that while most geographies were able to leverage the new normal to cement their CX and deliver on consumers’ rising expectations, Indian brands were not as agile to keep up with the rising expectations. This makes it even more critical for Indian brands to now recognise that customer experience is synonymous with brand experience.
For the second consecutive year, brand image has emerged as the strongest competitor to the X Index, representing 46% of India’s score. This hints at the fact that while ecosystems and the touchpoints were expanded during this new normal, brands also need to maintain continuous engagement to reinforce their image while also making it part of their CX.
Despite heavy customer experience investments by brands, there’s still room for improvement with only a global average of 40% of consumers thinking the brands they interact with are “cantered on their needs as a customer.” This year’s 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.
Prashant Tekwani, EVP and Business Head, Havas CX India and Havas Worldwide, West, said, “The pandemic has brought about a sea-change in consumer shopping behaviour. Brands now need to evolve their thinking from customer experience to citizen experience by making seamlessness and inclusivity their priority. According to the latest X Index report, India is the only country to register a lower overall score in 2021 in comparison to 2020. There is a gap that needs addressing for brands in India to score high in the CX journey. This shows how the understanding of the evolving expectation of the consumers is critical to maintaining the health of CX, growth and brand imagery. While meeting functional criteria around seamlessness, simplicity, and efficient customer service, brands must also go the extra mile to make a lasting impression in their customers’ minds.”
Sumeer Mathur, National Strategy Head and Managing Partner, Havas Worldwide India, said, “Interestingly, out of all the parameters that we measure to arrive at a final score, the Brand image has emerged as the strongest contributor to the X Index, representing 46% of India’s score. This hints at the fact that while ecosystems and the touchpoints were expanded during this new normal, brands also need to maintain continuous engagement to reinforce their image while also making it part of their CX. Conversely, it could also mean that Indian brands are under leveraging other parameters and relying too heavily on the brand image alone to determine the customer experience.”
The X Index identified four key principles to create a best-in-class citizen experience:
Trust comes first: Brand trust is the most powerful denominator around the globe in the customer journey. Brands build trust by keeping their commitments to customers and being there in times of crisis. For example, brands that optimized their shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic saw better results; these optimizations 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.
Build an all-inclusive experience: For customer experience to become a citizen experience, brands must be inclusive. According to the X Index, consumers evaluate brands at every step of the journey, including the way they treat their frontline employees, 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.
Always be of service: Customer service is now defined by the speed of reaction to customer demands. It is one of the key discriminating factors. In addition, when it comes to 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 in making sure the experience feels extra personal.