12 Most Important Steps an Organization can make to Improve the Customer Experience
The customer experience an organization delivers is unique to that company, difficult to imitate, and results in a distinctive competitive advantage. According to Peppers and Rodgers, “81% of organizations with strong competencies for delivering customer experience excellence outperform competitors.” Here are Vivisimo’s 12 most important steps an organization can take to improve their customer experience.
1. Engage C-Suite
Customer experience change must start at the helm. According to Bain & Company “80% of CEO’s believe their companies deliver a superior customer experience but only 8% of their customers agree.” This disconnect is so wide it’s alarming and begs of us to ask why, how, what and perhaps even when. Until top executives are in touch with their customers, their idea of the market, its demands, and what their customers need misses the mark
2. Devise a strategy
Even though we re-write marketing collateral and add a caption to our website proclaiming ourselves as customer-centric, our customers often remain dissatisfied. Until we create and implement a strategy to govern our approach, our structure, and our customer interactions we will just be the same organization with a new, shiny, meaningless label. Research from Econsultancy shows that only “22% of companies say they have a well-developed customer experience strategy.” Without a strategy the customer experience suffers.
3. Create a Customer-Centric Culture
Organizations must engage and motivate their internal customers to deliver their brand promise. Strativity’s study of executives discovered that only “58% of their companies have made the shift from corporate-centric to customer-centric.” Customer experience, however, is an inside job. When the c-suite cultivates a customer-centric culture that permeates the DNA of an organization, great customer service becomes not everyone’s job, but everyone’s mission.
4. Know your customer
This step seems too basic to mention yet many organizations are still operating in the realm of superficial customer knowledge instead of customer intimacy. With all the customer data available it would be easy to assume that companies are experts at listening, deriving insight, and personalizing the customer experience. Instead, “66% of customers do not feel valued by those serving them.” ~ Business e-Coach
5. Integrate Data Sources
Unstructured and structured data sources strewn across the enterprise [blogs, social media feeds, file shares, content management systems, and email] should be harnessed and made visible from a single point of access. “According to Econsultancy, “34% of companies say they have difficulty unifying different sources of customer data.” Employees must have the information that is most relevant to their role at the point of interaction with their customer in order to provide a response that leaves the customer satisfied.
6. Empower Customer-Facing Professionals (CFPs)
Customer insight allows CFPs to hold intelligent conversations with customers and personalize the experience. Enabling CFPs to quickly access information, reach an expert, or find advanced knowledge to solve complex problems, increases efficiency and enhances the customer experience.
7. Train, Train, Train Again
Even with the right tools and the right information organizations must train employees. Not just on their products and services but also on their message, sales, and customer service. CFPs must know the brand story and how to relay it so that they can narrate the brand promise from the customer’s point of view. With the right training, sales managers, service agents, and every touch-point can deliver parallel service.
8. Leverage Existing Knowledge
“According to Transactis, “65% of customers have received offers from companies for products they would never buy even though they have previously handed their personal preferences to these companies.” Not only do we need to provide information access to CFPs, but we must ensure the content given to them is relevant based on the client they are servicing, the products they service, experience they have etc. Using knowledge to paint an accurate picture of the customer’s needs amplifies the customer experience.
9. Deliver a Consistent Message
It is so important that we align and relay the essence of the brand at each touch-point whether it is product packaging, email, bill-board or call center. Every interaction point needs to have consistent messaging that adds to and reinforces the story in the customer journey.
10. Walk in your Customer’s Shoes
The only way an organization can understand their customer is to walk in their shoes. Top-line management needs to stay close to the front-line and even BE on the front line so they can see firsthand through their customer’s eyes. The old adage “you never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes” takes center stage in delivering a memorable customer experience.
11. Measure and Manage the Experience
It would be arrogant to think that the customer experience we delivered yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. Organizations must continually measure, map, and manage the customer experience as customer’s needs change. Resting on our laurels is a sure-fire way to chip away at any competitive advantage.
12.Communicate and Collaborate
Organizations must share measurements, thresholds and customer feedback enterprise wide. When the company as a whole has a clear vision of where they are and what they need to do to forge ahead, they can make great strides in improving the customer experience.
Where are you in the customer experience continuum? Hopefully with the spotlight shining directly on customer experience we’ve all forged ahead through some of these steps. What other steps would you add? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Featured image courtesy of maistora licensed via creative commons.