…develop capabilities to gain customer insights from key touchpoints and act on them
Customer Experience and marketing have what the scientists will call a symbiotic relationship. Through the adoption of multiple studies, theories, and models, companies have come to understand their customers’ perspectives and have responded accordingly by building marketing strategies that encapsulate their engagement with customers from their perspective.
It answers the question clearly that in today’s world your effectiveness in the marketplace hinges more on customer-focus and not brand or company focus. The customer should be at the centre of all marketing efforts.
Furthermore, every Customer Experience Management (CEM) process should be a holistic and company-wide system where perspectives, needs, and wants of customers are scrutinized and gathered and shared across every node in the CEM process end to end. What is crystal clear is that CEM is not the preserve of the Sales and Marketing department or the responsibility of Customer Service.
It also cannot be considered solely as an IT project. Additionally, even though social media presents a powerful way to connect with customers it doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes. CEM is a company-wide initiative with cross-functional links across the whole organization.
An effective CX campaign thrives on an embedded culture of customer-centric thinking with strands across the whole organization. To get the strategy right you need to work deliberately at efforts to embed the customer-centric culture in your organization’s DNA.
This requires the setting up of a CEM programme for your company, and the launching of CEM in key phases of a pre-launch, the launch and post-launch where you set up the building blocks for your CX campaign with a keen eye on the customer’s needs and wants. Your goal is to influence a top-of-mind awareness about the needs of the customer such that as a business you can deliver consistent experiences to customers at all your touchpoints.
Setting up a CEM programme
A customer experience programme is essentially the tools and processes used to implement your customer experience management strategy. The tools and processes enable you to improve touchpoints and interactions customers have with your brand and the resulting perceptions from those interactions.
According to Zoe Soto, Product manager of Glassdoor (an American website where current and former employees anonymously review companies) “You don’t need to start with a fancy, tricked-out system. Just start getting some feedback in the easiest, lightest way you can. Soon enough, you will learn how you want to customize and do more.”
There are 2 basic components of a Customer Experience management Programme. These are, first, implementing a process for gathering customer feedback and second, mobilizing your team to take action on data to improve customer experiences. It requires that you talk to the customer-facing teams to obtain customer insights for your planning.
Next, identify a high-priority customer experience from your internal research. For visibility here, your best bet is to develop a customer journey map. The journey map is a visual representation of the various interactions and touchpoints a customer has with your company.
So for example, if you are a restaurant your touchpoints are the restaurant seating where your customers come in to take their meals as your waiters serve them or your fleet of bikers who respond to calls or your email address, contact number or mobile money, or website if you have one. Identify a specific interaction and set a goal in mind for what needs to be improved, and work on the other touchpoint interactions later.
So for example, you’ve learned from your front liners of an interest in a specific product, find out about the response focusing on those who never come back. Your goal should be to get to the bottom of this and improve the experiences at fault. Once you have your goal in mind, you need to gain intelligence on the relevant customer experiences.
Before I get sophisticated about this, let me share my experience about this retailer who saw me coming back for bread rolls over a period, on my last visit she took my number and promised to call whenever the stock arrived and gave me a number to call to check for availability. A clear case of following the data albeit in a very simple way.
Conduct regular surveys using tools such as Customer Effort Score survey (a tool that measures how much effort a customer has to exert to get an issue resolved or a request fulfilled), and Net Promoter Score Survey (measures loyalty of your customers by assessing their level of satisfaction from their encounter with your brand) both of which could help you identify specific features that are causing issues.
By setting up ongoing customer experience surveys for your critical customer touchpoints you gain useful insights to help you improve your service. Note however that what is important is the principle so setting up the system however simple is what is important. Embedding the process of obtaining feedback and acting on it is my point here.
Introducing a culture of customer-centric focus requires transformational leadership. According to Tarvsan and Erdem (2018), Transformational leaders enable their employees to be true to their inner selves and perform their jobs to satisfy their intrinsic values rather than be motivated by external incentives.
Therefore, is you are looking for Change Agents to support your Customer Experience drive your criteria is simple. Look for those who demonstrate a passion for frontline duties. The young man who attended to me at a restaurant a few days ago ticks this box. Next, to get your CX strategy on track you need a dedicated team that aligns the whole organization towards the customer experience vision.
The Customer Experience lead will drive the vision and influence the organization towards the CX mindset. Why are some companies able to deliver incredible experiences to their customers? These proponents are known to have invested time and money to train employees to deliver outstanding customer experiences.
Still telling the story of the restaurant while we sat there and ate the manager was supervising a setup for a party later in the evening so he came to test the lights out. He then came to apologize to us and explain that they were preparing for an event. My point is that this business has embedded the CX culture in the mindset of its people so they address the needs of the customer effortlessly.
Here is how you launch your Customer Experience. First, set up an announcement campaign, tell the story from the CEO and other senior managers use as many channels (note that the channels are ones your employees are comfortable with), company website, emails, posters on bulletin boards, flyers, messaging using technology and son on the key is to build excitement for the new company initiative. Organize a celebration (perhaps with some refreshments) to inspire eagerness about the proposed launch.
Plan training programmes and workshops to bring the CX strategy to the fore. The goal of the training is to prepare employees to translate customer experience objectives into actions as they perform in their various job roles. Make them feel that they are an active part of the company’s transformation rather than passive prey.
Perform follow-up evaluations to review how you are progressing against benchmarks. Measure the relevant benchmarks to see how each department is doing, remember the company is in for the long haul so build a sustainable system of deploying and reviewing to keep things on track and to grow into your strategy. Don’t forget to reward best practices, as you reward employees for caring for your customers they will reward you equally by caring for them.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the launch and workshops after you have built enthusiasm for the CX programme. Keep the momentum going by equipping employees with the tools required to implement the Customer Experience within the scope of their job roles. The Customer Experience function must drive the momentum by implementing research to identify the shared accumulation of each customer segment. Your key to understanding the needs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviours of your customers are key to understanding customer actions at your touchpoints.
Develop information on your customer persona (a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience, based on the data you’ve collected from user research) and to help you drive this process effectively. In planning your journey think through the following key steps to ensure you achieve worthwhile outcomes. First, consider the macro-level journey and work your way to the micro-level journeys.
A supermarket will start with the catalyst that made you shop with them and work their way to what you bought and sent home. An insurance company will review your car insurance will look at the time of purchase and work their way towards the life span of your car and after. The fact is it’s always better to do something rather than nothing the more information and organization you have behind the process the better.
Engage your stakeholders internally to map the journey from the internal perspective. This should include both those who are doers and the decision-makers, including a wide breadth of internal actors that will help drive inclusion and ownership. Your goal is to find out what happens when customers are journeying through your touchpoints.
What are they trying to do? What are they thinking? What are they feeling? With the internal view as a guide, you are now ready to talk to customers. This is a qualitative research exercise informed by a methodology largely determined by the context and nature of business. The methods could range from focus groups, in-depth interviews, and community interactions. Apply the right fit for each stage in the journey.
Your customer Experience Management strategy is an iterative process that enables you to embed a culture of customer-centric thinking in your organization and run through a systematic process of understanding your customer’s needs, feelings and thoughts. When done meticulously your business will stand out as a unique entity with a keen eye on customer satisfaction.
|The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205, [email protected],