Customer experience is now a reflection of the CULTURE of the organisation, the DNA of the brand, and the future gauge of its growth potential.
Some typical ways in the past companies have used customer experience:
CES – customer effort scores. How easy was it to get your issue resolved with a rating scale.
NPS – net promoter score. How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague. Rating scale.
CSAT – customer satisfaction score on specific touch points as opposed to overall feeling like NPS.
TTR – time to resolve. Average length of time to resolve an issue often as a ticket in their system.
One of the limitations with the traditional approaches to customer experience is:
- At best they are insight rich (data) but action poor (difficult to take action)
- Not happening in the now, today, what behaviours do we need to change now
- Rarely do they get to the ‘why’ down to an individual staff level
- Not linked to sales results and tangible $ or word of mouth on social media
- Hard to inspire staff and managers with research findings
- Never linked to training and development
- Because they don’t tell you ‘why’ you cannot identify how and what to fix! Today.
Understanding customer experience in 2021 during COVID-19 recovery
The traditional view of Customer Experience (or ‘CX’ for short) is, relates to what your customers thought of about what happened across all interactions they’ve had with you.
Even if we stop there for a moment, it’s interesting that sometimes there’s a gap between what the company thinks and what the customer thinks. Let me explain – companies will compartmentalise ‘Customer Experience’ to a time or place. For example we think we’re good at CX because we recommended the extended warranty. However for the customer it’s EVERYTHING that happens from the time they start thinking about their need for something, how they find interacting with your website, when they call you, when they visit, post-sale feelings, and when they have a future need, and they are deciding if they will visit you again or go somewhere else.
Moments of truth are the DNA of any business. We know that turning them into action creates real momentum. By focusing on improving your sales and service productivity, we help you visibly generate ROI and improve NPS.
Why is CX so important?
Delivering fantastic customer experiences consistently is a must have for all businesses.
There is no doubt that CX scores are directly linked to increasing sales, improving customer loyalty, improving reviews on social media, and reducing complaints.
We’ve been running CX programs for over 25 years globally and in 2021 emerging from Covid customers are spoiled for choice. The companies relying solely on price and product are losing the battle and we are finding the most successful companies who are thriving understand that we are in the age of the Experience Economy.
What does that mean? Well, it means that it’s all about personalised customer experiences.
There is a lot written about Omnichannel, reducing churn, increasing add-ons, click and collect and other creative ways to deliver customer experiences… we have found based on tens of thousands of real experiences where we ask in great detail what is working or not, that customers want and expect personalised experiences.
One of the key words in 2021 is EMPATHY. Genuine care and understanding is expected by customers and when you deliver this level of customer experience they feel you are personalising the service experience, you understand their needs and you are making it easy for them to get what they want and how they want it. Customers value their time (and money!) and if they choose to shop with you, the old levels of customer experience pre Covid just won’t cut it. Anything that isn’t sincere or empathetic turns them off and will not work.
For many companies during Covid they have had many operational tasks to comply with regulations that have caused many to be exhausted. Add to this management running the business with lean staff levels it has meant many have delivered very inconsistent CX.
Customers don’t care. Sorry to be brutally honest but we are in the box seat to know what is happening out there and actually customer experience is picking up pace not becoming irrelevant. Customer’s experiences are now amplified on social media and any rating that is less than 4 out of 5 is detrimental. So companies must recognise that social media ratings has a major impact on generating new customers.
The other interesting shift is that this rating on social media is at the LOCAL level. It’s not just what other customers experienced about that brand generally, it’s your local store, branch or outlet and the specific ratings for that location that matters.
So what are some of the key things that cause bad customer experiences?
Ease – this could be your website, on the telephone… if a genuine customer does not find you easy to relate to and work with you are in trouble. If you make them wait or don’t respond or they cannot find what they want quickly, forget it.
Empathy – we mentioned this already but the classic step of the sale about ‘understanding my needs’ is actually about really personalising the whole sales experience to suit me. It’s more than open ended questions… it’s really taking the time to personalise and understand then selling me the total solution.
Respond and resolve – if there are issues and questions then you must resolve these asap. It sounds obvious but we have clients where more than 50% of quotes provided are never followed up. Imagine the cost to the business in acquiring that customer and yet teams leave questions unanswered or do not resolve issues.
Interactions – this bucket is all about the interactions with your staff. Customer experience is often about the small things and how your staff respond and manage the relationships is key. Rude, angry, patronising, rushed, too technical, stressed out, understaffed, lack of knowledge… These are some of the things that drive customers away from you.
Delivery on your promise – customer experience is end to end so believing it’s only about the sales steps and whether staff are nice misses at least half of the story! The way they research and experience you prior to any contact, and whether you deliver what you said you would do (or the product, or services provided) has a massive impact on CX scores and whether that person will ever spend with you again and your reputation.
The Harvard Business Review Jan-Feb 2020 (P45) clearly showed that the top performers for customer loyalty were generating 2.6 times higher growth rates than their peers. This is the new reality that COVID has made even stronger.
The Customer Experience challenge for most companies is the gap between their top performers and their bottom performers. We are finding this gap has increased. As customer expectations are rising faster (for example expected speed of deliveries) companies are struggling to keep pace.
The perfect storm here is that many Businesses have pulled back and reduced their staff levels or worse, service levels during Covid and they are struggling to attract customers back to them. On the other side, those companies who have created a personalised customer experience and are very proactive in the service are taking the lead.
What can you do to improve customer experience?
We’ve already established that poor service is not tolerated by customers who are now more impatient and less accepting of it, and will share it on review sites. Customers are doing more research before they decide to buy, so businesses must ADD VALUE to be relevant through personalised suggestions and information.
When you setup your CX program you need to focus on the WHY? We are finding customers are happy to provide feedback if you focus on asking about what matters to them. Simple asking – how likely are you to recommend us, adding an open-ended question asking why, then offering to call them back will NOT work. It might give you some insights but you need to know down to team leader, and individual team member levels exactly what is working and what THEIR number one priority is for improvement as defined by their customer – a well-structured program will generate this for you.
Oh, and don’t think this is a once a year or even once a quarter exercise!
If you are seriously going to improve customer experience you need actionable feedback to drive improvement every day.
Imagine if you are managing me in a retail setting… I serve 20 people today and there are some things I really need to improve on that means I really don’t maximise my sales potential and customers leave without the empathy and personalised experience. Why wait until the end of the quarter to hope that the insights reveal something about the sales experience? It’s unlikely they would anyway and you as my manager can’t possibly watch every sale yourself to provide me coaching. In this example we need a customer experience program that identifies behaviours that mirror what the ideal personalised service experience is so we know in near real-time how we are going?
The companies who have great success with CX programs have them working all the time, the results are linked to coaching on the day and back to training or eLearning. The focus is not about chasing a CX score, it’s about making small improvements that have a big positive impact for customers – they return, and they tell others about the awesome experience!
So an integral part of your customer experience strategy means you need to invest in training, people and culture to succeed. Building brand reputation is all about improving consistency. Customer experience is now a reflection of the CULTURE of the organisation, the DNA of the brand, and the future gauge of its growth potential. Success comes from having one solution across Operations, HR and Marketing to Boost Results ASAP .