Communications Project Manager
On February 2nd, Havas CX released its annual report about customer experience, collating findings from 9 countries to establish key trends in the world of CX – trends we then use to help us do insightful, impactful work.

Sébastien Houdusse, Chief Strategy Officer at BETC, spoke with us about key findings from the latest X Index and why it’s so important for the network to conduct this research.

Can you give us some background on the X Index and how it has expanded over the years? Are there any challenges you’ve faced pulling it together?

X Index started as a local initiative in France in 2018 because we wanted BETC Fullsix agency to have a tool to build credibility and legitimacy in the world of customer experience. We knew some other barometers existed, but we wanted ours to be more agnostic, because we analyse the whole customer journey.

In the second year, the US and China joined our research. It has now become a global project with 9 countries participating (France, USA, China, Brazil, UK, India, Spain, Portugal and Turkey), more than 50,000 consumers are surveyed and 450 brands evaluated on the performance of CX they deliver to their customers.

“This tool… helps local teams identify the most discriminating factors of a successful customer experience and helps our clients prioritise the steps in the customer journey they should work on.”

Can you highlight some of the key findings from this survey? Was there anything that surprised you or that you weren’t expecting?

The most striking finding overall from Havas CX’s 2022 X Index is the shift in demand from consumer experience to citizen experience. Increased consumer expectations around trust, inclusivity, always being of service, and going above and beyond are now major factors in creating the most meaningful customer experience. While brands must continue to deliver simplicity and efficiency, they are also being assessed on the concrete actions they deliver to create a welcoming experience for all.

In more detail, the four main lessons that we have drawn from the research are the following:

  1. It all starts with trust

In all countries this year, the first discriminating criterion is “I trust this brand”, e.g.  the ability of brands to create conditions for trust throughout the customer journey. This item alone represents 31% of the X Index for bricks and mortar brands in France, and up to 42% for pure player brands in the UK.

But how do you build trust? It’s all about keeping your commitments and being there in times of crisis. For instance, the fact that “the brand optimised its shopping experience through the COVID-19 pandemic” is discriminating in France, the US, the UK and Brazil.

2. Build an inclusive experience

If your customer experience becomes a citizen experience, you have to be sure you invite everyone to the table, and it starts with your employees: the fact that brands “treat their frontline employees well” is discriminating in the UK, China and India. Employee experience matters more than you may think for CX satisfaction.

Building an inclusive CX is also about being “welcoming to all,” which is a result that’s discriminating both in France and the UK.

Building an inclusive CX also relies on the ability of the brand to build a sense of community around its purpose and actions. This criterion makes it to the top 10 in Spain and China. For instance, Nio, the Chinese electric car brand, allows its customers to connect with each other through a lifestyle app. This builds a sense of belonging among Nio’s customers.

3. 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 6 out of 9 countries – it is number 3 in the US and number 4 in China for bricks and mortar brands.  Reacting quickly has never been so essential, and consumers seem to have all become “time intolerant”. The rise of quick commerce and dark stores in major cities around the world speaks to that.

4. The age of extra

When it comes to satisfying your customers, going the extra mile is of paramount importance.

Your customer experience should feel extra personal. The personalisation criterion is discriminating for pure players in France, India and the US (3rd out of 10), but also in Brazil (4th out of 10).

You should also provide extra attentions for your customers. “Providing extra attention that go beyond expectations” is discriminating in the US (4th out of 10), Brazil (5th) and Spain.

Last but not least, the experience should provide extra enjoyment: bringing seamlessness is not enough, you have to put delight in your customers’ interactions with your brand.

“Increased consumer expectations around trust, inclusivity, always being of service, and going above and beyond are now major factors in creating the most meaningful customer experience.”

Have you seen any evolution in the survey’s findings because of the pandemic?

Yes, we sure have. The rise of trust and the demand for a more inclusive experience are certainly a result of the pandemic. Also, the fact that “treating your frontline employees well” has become discriminating in 4 countries out of 9 speaks to the fact that employee experience and customer experience are deeply linked.

Last but not least, the fact that “brands optimised their shopping experience through the pandemic” was a criterion that was discriminating only in China and India last year. This year, it’s discriminating in 7 countries out of nine. And the leaders who never stopped innovating during the crisis are rewarded by consumers. For instance, Chewy, the pure player pet care brand in the US, gets a top score on this criterion, recognising their effort in connecting pet owners to vets through video consultation during the pandemic.

How does this report dovetail with other research we do as a network?

I think the X Index is a perfect addition to our already powerful research, comprised notably by Prosumers and Meaningful Brands. While Prosumers research uncovers future expectations and insights from the most advanced consumers, Meaningful Brands studies what matters when it comes to your relationship with brands. The X Index analyses the whole customer journey and defines what matters for people when it comes to CX performance. This combination of research makes us stronger as a network because we can provide more insights and more accurate thinking in terms of business, brand and CX strategy for our clients.

Why is conducting research like this beneficial for our company as a whole?

The X Index is essential for our company and especially for Havas CX, because it helps us all strengthen our expertise and make our analysis and recommendations to our clients more efficient.

This tool is used in two different but equally important manners in the network. It helps local teams identify the most discriminating factors of a successful customer experience and helps our clients prioritise the steps in the customer journey they should work on. But you can also use the learnings of the X Index down to a single brand and its competitors. For every company that is included in the X Index, you can dig into their results and have a first diagnosis to present to a client, whether it’s an existing one or a pitch.

Where can people read more on the report’s findings?

You can read more on the Havas CX website https://www.havascx.com/x-index and Havas employees can access the global deck and white paper on Agora.


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