by Chad Storlie, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Creighton University
What is customer experience? Customer experience has exploded over the past several years as a concept in Google searches as well as business literature. Broadly, Customer experience (CX) is the totality of interactions (good + bad + indifferent) that a customer has with a business’s products, services and supporting functions. A few years ago in the U.S. mobile phone industry, mobile phone customers were having highly satisfying interactions with Apple and Android phone handsets, but less than satisfactory experiences with extra fees and confusing billing arising from limited or tiered wireless data use.
Why is customer experience so important? Customers loved their phones, but hated the confusing fees and limited data use that dragged down the overall CX. Enter the unlimited mobile phone data plans, even for higher overall prices, and CX significantly improves. Great company CX programs seek to rapidly understand and mitigate customer negative experiences in any stage of their use of a company’s products or services and turn the negatives into positives, or at least neutral, to create improved overall CX. Over time, companies that create progressively better CX began to create a competitive advantage over their competitors and, most importantly, create customers that become loyal and vocal brand advocates.
In corporate CX programs, there are still lots of things that can and do go wrong. Below are five major perils that can, and often do, derail CX programs.
Peril #1 – Is your company culture truly open to change? A great CX program is fundamentally driven by being open and willing to listen and to change in ways that will make your customers’ experience with your company better. Fundamentally, great company CX programs are driven by a company culture that wants to make things better for customers. That’s it. If you are starting or enacting a CX program that is unwilling to quickly and passionately act in ways that will make your customers’ interaction with your company better, then you are better off to pursue other initiatives. Great CX programs are driven by a passion to listen and to change in ways that will delight a customer. CX programs aim to delight and drive customer growth.
Peril #2 – Do you let data or internal opinion drive your CX changes? One of the greatest perils of CX programs are letting internal “experts” or select areas of the company such as Sales or Strategy speak for what they “believe” the customers are stating they want. CX programs need to have customer surveys, customer forums, customer use sessions, text analytics of customer service sessions and independent product/service evaluations tied to specific stages in the customer journey through your organization. This data gathering and the updates to your customer journey map need to be scheduled and semi-annual, at a minimum, to ensure the freshest look at your CX.
Peril #3 – Are you gathering the voice of the customer (VOC) across all vital areas? A third major peril is an over focus on perspectives that the company believes are the most important to your customers. Marketing, engineering and sales functions are great at comparing products in various charts and matrices to their competitors. This misses vital areas of the customer experience. How often do customers get first call resolution when they call a customer service center? Does billing go smoothly? Are bills easy to read? How long does it take to get a rebate? These issues are extremely important to customers, but they often go unnoticed by companies because they are only gathering the VOC across areas they believe are the most important. Listen to the VOC across all areas of the company.
Peril #4 – Is your company CX program independent? When the CX organization reports to anyone but the CEO or the executive team then misattribution of customer feedback is a constant threat. CX needs to be an independent voice that is data driven and collects feedback from a wide variety of customers. This ensures the true customer voice is heard throughout the entire organization and not just targeted to individual corporate beliefs.
Peril #5 – Are you acting too slowly on customer feedback? Corporate CX programs are great initiatives that energize customers through surveys, corporate executive speeches and press coverage. The danger is that corporations gather a mountain of customer feedback and then act either too slowly or in areas that are not the major customer pain points. This serves to de-motivate customers from contributing to the CX improvement process. Instead, companies should be externally quiet about their CX initiatives and overhaul and quickly deliver an improved experience to customers. Customers will know, and know quickly, that their feedback is being used. Companies need to act quietly and respond quickly to areas of greatest concern to customers.
Avoiding these five perils does not 100 percent guarantee a successful CX program. It does, most importantly, vastly improve your chances of a successful CX program. Today, do all you can to ensure your CX program avoids these five perils; your customers will thank you.