By Neal Dlin
Have you ever called customer service (CS) and been told any of the following?
–“I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, but that’s our company policy. There is nothing I can do.”
–“Yes, Mrs. Jones, our web site does say you can call Customer Service to register, but I’m afraid you can only do that in-store or online.”
–“I know you have been a long-time loyal customer, Mr. Jenkins, but the discount is only for new customers. There is nothing I can do.”
–“I understand you have great credit, but your application came back denied and I don’t have any more details for you.”
For years the focus of customer experience (CX) has been on the contact centre or retail front line teams. The truth is, in each of the examples above, the customer’s bad experience is rooted somewhere else in the organization, e.g. design, production, shipping, with suppliers, marketing, legal or the back office.
When customers reach out to CS most often the issue has already occurred. All too often the service team does not have the awareness or tools to solve it (hint, because they weren’t provided the information).
The difference between CX and CS
But handling bad experiences is only part of the CX story. In truth organizations that are winning in CX are focused on ensuring there is no bad experience to recover from.
That is precisely the difference between CX and CS. CX encompasses all of the experiences a customer has with your company, not just CS, which informs their perception of how important they are to you.
And when CX is done right, customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 16% and are more loyal and are willing to share more details about themselves according to a study by PwC1.
In recent years several leading organizations have made CX a part of their corporate cultures and in some tangible way, a part of everyone’s job. Companies that get this are winning big time and none more so than Amazon. Amazon has, at last check, over 300 million users, roughly $178 billion in sales in 2017 and processed over 180 million items ordered this past Cyber Week, 20182,3. Customers, like me, absolutely love the company. And it’s not because of Amazon’s CS, which is amazing, it’s because of Amazon’s CX.
But it can only occur when CX is a focus for everyone in the organization.
One of our clients, a leading luxury car manufacturer, was having challenges with its credit application experience. My team discovered that its forms were more rigorous than those of almost any competitor. Customers who were being approved and were flying through the process with other brands were waiting days with our client, only to be declined. Then, when customers complained, most of their applications would eventually be approved.
We uncovered that the approvals team had an annual goal to reduce risk. Each year it was attained it was increased the following year. However, the team had no CX goals, had never been exposed to CX results or knew how it compared to competitors and had never observed customers using the application in the field. In the end, while the team decreased risk and lowered some financial losses, the impact to CX and overall revenues far exceeded those savings.
What was lacking was a CX focus throughout the organization. It’s not just the obvious functions like marketing, product and customer-facing technology development teams that need to have a CX focus. Support functions like legal, finance and human resources must have it too.
Here are five ways you can bring a greater CX focus into the rest of your organization.
- Embed CX into your company vision, mission and values. You need a defined lens by which to view all decisions that keeps the customer top of mind for everyone.
- Let CX inform your employee journeys. This includes job profiles, how you hire, what you focus on in onboarding, what you measure and recognize both informally and formally and to how you support your employees: does everyone have the information, tools and authority to make customer-centric choices?
- Skin in the game. Leading companies reward CX in every role’s performance scorecard with proportional weight in balance with more tangible key performance indicators (KPIs) like revenue. This protects organizations from achieving short-term financial gains at the cost of long-term growth and sustainability.
- CX communication. Is voice of the customer data and CX measures collected from every source? Is it shared freely with employees and is it timely (as in not shared months after the fact)? Is CX review a standing agenda item in all operational meetings?
- CX criteria in the budget and project approval process. New projects and new spend need to include a review of how they will impact CX either positively or negatively. These criteria need to have measured weight against approval and prioritization similar to the criteria and weight used in the aforementioned scorecards.
As noted by the Amazon example companies with a strong CX focus actually outperform the market, which was validated in a recent Watermark study that looked at the past 11 years of market performance4. Will you take the steps, like our automotive client has made, to join this deservedly elite company?
Neal Dlin is founder and “Chief Customer Obsessed Guy”, ChorusTree (www.chorustree.com), which provides best practice HX (Human Experience) encompassing CX, employee experience and contact centre consulting.
1 David Clarke and Ron Kinghorn, “Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right”, PwC, report, 2018.
2 Jillian Hufford, “Amazon Statistics: Need To Know Numbers about Amazon [Infographic]”, nChannel, blog, January 24, 2018.
3 Mediakix, “8 Fascinating Amazon Statistics to Know in 2018”, August 9, 2018.
4 Watermark Consulting, “2019 Customer Experience ROI Study”, study, 2019.