Customer Experience

Customer Experience has grown beyond a customer’s satisfaction with your product or service. The best companies view Customer Experience as the end experience that a customer has with the company throughout the various touchpoints.

The goal of this article is to discuss Customer Experience: It Is Not Just About Satisfaction. The following are some areas that should be considered when addressing the various touchpoints that a customer has with your company

Customer Experience: Everyone in your organization plays a role

Many people in an organization believe that if they do not interact directly with the customer that they do not affect the customer experience. This is not true and can be dangerous to your company’s success.

Areas of Influence:

When thinking about Customer Experience be sure to include the following:

  • Researchers: Are your researchers who work on new product discovery or service creation focused on the needs of the customer and what the customer wants or is trying to solve for. It is easy to get excited about what we think people want (and this can work – think iPhone), though just as often we will want to be in-tune with what our customers need.
  • Designers: When it comes to the actual design of a product or service have we done the proper research with our customers to ensure that what we have designed actually meets their needs. The landscape is littered with products that seemed “nifty” but that did not fully meet the needs of their customers and ultimately did not survive long-term (think Blackberry).
  • Human Resources: Does your human resources department fully understand the skills and competencies needed by individuals in the various departments that need to be present to have a customer-focused mindset. The company with the greatest engineers will not be able to compete with the company with great engineers who also possess a customer-focused mindset to build products that fully meet the customer’s needs. In addition, the Human Resources department is typically on-point for monitoring employee satisfaction and engagement. Countless studies have shown that a satisfied and engaged workforce ultimately leads to the best products and services which leads to the highest levels of positive customer experience.
  • Operations: There are numerous roles on the operational side of the business that may never interact with the customer directly. It takes a focused effort to ensure that these employees understand the critical role they play in creating products or services that delight the customer. Many of these will go unnoticed by the customer, but their absence would certainly be noticed.
  • Finance: Here we include all of the various functions typically found in finance (accounting, payables, planning, reporting, compliance, etc.). Fair pricing, purchasing terms, collections processes, and transparency will all influence a customer’s opinion on their experience with your company.
  • Safety: This area can often be overlooked. While mostly preventive in nature, ensuring that your safety department is involved in all aspects of product and service design will ensure that customers do not encounter issues that may harm them or put them at risk which would certainly result in a poor experience with your company.
  • Sales: Traditionally the closest employees to the customer are those that work within sales. The individuals in sales typically have the greatest understanding of the wants and needs of the customer as well as direct feedback from the customers on recent interactions with the company’s products or services. It is critical that their insight is communicated to other departments in a manner that raises the collective awareness of the company as to the most critical areas of need that must be addressed to improve the customer’s experience.
  • Marketing: Marketing helps to control the brand image which ultimately factors into a customer’s overall experience and feelings towards the brand.
  • IT: Here we consider Information Technology (IT) to include externally-facing and internally facing efforts that involve technology (computers, systems, phones, etc.). IT is often overlooked when it comes to customer experience. However, think about the customer’s interaction with you on the internet, over the phone, or with in-store technology like registers and kiosks. It is often at these points that the customers run into issues dealing with your company in a seamless manner.

Feedback Points:

A variety of methods exist to get a complete view of how your customers view their experience. Each of these should be considered as you build your plans for improving your Customer Experience positioning.

  • Net Promoter Score® NPS®: The NPS® measurement has become a widely used measure and is based on the work of Fred Reichheld from Bain & Company. His research led to the creation of Net Promoter Score® question which can essentially be stated as “How likely are you to recommend “company name to friends or colleagues”. This type of question is typically presented to a customer shortly after a purchase a product or service from a company. The intent is to get an overall sense of the customer’s happiness with your company based on their most recent interaction. Typically the question requests a ranking from 0 to 10 from the customer (with 0 being not likely to 10 being very likely to recommend). Responses of 0-6 are considered detractors, 7-8 are passive, and 9-10 are promoters. It is customary to serve up a follow-up question to the respondent that solicits additional insights (in verbatim format) of what could have been done differently by the company to have improved the rating. Great reading for all leaders is “The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World” by Fred Reichheld.
  • Customer Effort Score: The CES is intended to measure the amount of effort a customer must spend to get an issue resolved. Typically a question is posed to customers after they have worked with a department in your company to resolve and issue (an example is a survey that you take after calling a customer service line). The CES can also be utilized to survey customers after they have purchased from you to find out their perceptions of how easy it was to do business with you. This can oftentimes identify for you points of Friction that may exist in your business model that is displeasing to customers. “Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage” by Roger Dooley will you’re your leaders thinking internally about various ways in which your products perform or services are experienced that may be inefficient and frustrating for your customers.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Is a tool used for understanding the forces that shape competition within an industry. It can be useful in guiding strategy adjustments to suit the competitive environment. Porter’s Five Forces was developed by Harvard Business Scholl professor Michael Porter. The five areas that are reviewed by companies to analyze an industry’s attractiveness are:
    • Rivalry Amount Competitors: Do competitors “play nice” or is it cutthroat
    • The threat of New Entrants: What barriers exist to keep out new competitors or what should you be working on to make it hard to do business in your space
    • The threat of Substitutes: A substitute is not always as a similar-looking business model. Taxi companies did not anticipate that customers would be so eager to try Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing platforms
    • Bargaining Power of Customers/Consumers: Access to information has given customers and consumers new leverage in dealing with you, how do you leverage this in your strategic decisions
    • Bargaining Power of Suppliers: How do you strategically approach your relationships with suppliers
    • CRM Notes: Your sales personnel and customer support personnel are continually collecting feedback from customers in their regular interactions. It is important to capture these insights in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. This will ultimately provide you with data that can be mined for patterns and issues that are common amongst your customers.
    • Social Media Monitoring: No company is immune to the impact of negative or positive social media and signs are that this will continue to be a critical area that should be closely monitored. Depending upon your business you may be impacted by Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Reddit (and others are continually emerging). Social Media is not just about what is being said about your company, it can also be about what is being researched about your company. Some social media sites are used by your customers in researching your products or services (and thus they will have experience from their engagement).

Customer Experience Skills:

A person’s tendencies to be customer service oriented often are learned at a very young age. When looking to build the customer experience culture in your company the following should be considered:

  • Leadership Commitment: It is absolutely essential that the commitment to improving the customer experience be championed by the leader in your organization. This commitment should be well communicated and understood throughout the organization.
  • Customer Experience Strategy: It is critical that a formal strategy is developed regarding your Customer Experience plans. A Road-Map should be developed that outlines vision, objectives, and tactics for developing a company culture centered on improving the Customer Experience.
  • Improving the organization’s knowledge: There are a variety of ways to improve to the knowledge of your organization including formal training, a regular blog reviewing (such as jeannebliss.com/blog, samhorn.com/blog, blogs.oracle.com/author/blake-morgan, rogerdolley.com/blog), listening and sharing podcast from notable experts on customer experience and reading books such as:
    • Winning Her Business: How to Transform the Customer Experience for the World’s Most Powerful Consumers by Bridget Brennan
    • Excellence Wins: A Non-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise by Horst Schulze
    • Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back): 24 Reasons People are Leaving You for Competitors by David Arvin
    • Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage by Roger Dooley
    • The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow’s Business by Blake Morgan
    • The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty
    • The Customer Centricity Playbook: Implement a Winning Strategy Drive by Customer Lifetime Value by Peter Fader
    • Would you Do That to Your Mother: The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customer by Jeanne Bliss
    • The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World by Fred Reichheld
    • The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    • The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary by Joseph Mitchelli
    • Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer
    • Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word-of-Mouth by Jay Baer
    • Story Driven: You don’t need to compete when your know who you are by Bernadette Jiwa
    • It’s All About CEX!: The Essential Guide to Customer and Employee Experience by Jason S. Bradshay
    • Be Our Guests: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by Theodore Kinni
    • The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine
    • Nincompoopery: Why Your Customers Hate You – and How to Fix It by John Brandt
    • More is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences by Blake Morgan
    • The Relationship Economy: Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age by John R Dijulius III
    • Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine by Jeanne Bliss
    • Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet by Shep Hyken

Making customers happy and providing them the best customer experience possible results in rewards beyond their immediate satisfaction. Having the best customer experience will help to solidify loyalty from your customer base that helps you improve and grow your business.

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