Six Steps to Customer Experience Improvement (Part 2)

In a world of rapidly evolving smart touchpoints and even smarter customers, no business can afford to stand still. In fact, the pace of digital disruption, innovation, and increasing customer control means your firm is either moving forward or falling behind. Today, “business as usual” is a euphemism for “we can’t see what’s coming, and when it does we won’t know what hit us.” Just ask Blockbuster, Kodak, or Borders.

6-Steps-Part-2This is why improving customer experience is such a strategic imperative for forward-thinking firms in virtually every industry. Proved to create competitive advantage–and boost top- and bottom-line revenue–a differentiated customer experience leverages the two most valuable assets an organization can have: its brand and customer relationships.

In Six Steps To Customer Experience Improvement (Part 1), I outlined the first three foundational steps for any firm that wants to chart a course for customer experience differentiation. Here, I outline the remaining three steps, which will help you transform customer experience by turning your plans into prioritized, defensible actions.

Step Four: Customer Experience And Service Design

Guiding the definition of the “ideal experience”–which means different things for different customers and customer segments–is one of the major outputs of experience strategy. The resulting framework for experience and service design will guide you in the design of touchpoint-level experiences, as well as the ways customers feel when they encounter them. Design must drive experiences that are consistently delivered across touchpoint types and delivery channels (e.g., digital, phone, in-store)–which also entail planning the “behind the scenes” systems, processes, and data sources that affect experience delivery.

Objectives:

  • Design specific experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations of brand
  • Define relevant KPIs, metrics

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Not defining interdependencies (people, processes, technologies, and touchpoints)
  • Trying to deliver the “ideal experience” to all customers

Activities can include:

  • Service and process (re)design
  • TouchpointMap development
  • Implementation road map
  • Prioritization frameworks
  • Journey mapping (ideal state)

Step Five: Implement

Starting internally, follow your road map to focus the company around delivering a consistent customer experience. This means internal communications, training, systems redesign, and alignment of rewards and compensation with desired goals. From leveraging top-down executive support to building a bottom-up understanding, implementation brings customer experience to life with a new organizational competence around customer-centricity. It’s everyone and everything, with a focus on bridging operational silos to align experience delivery with the experiences your customers want and need.

Objective:

  • Execute on customer experience delivery
  • Drive customer experience transformation

Pitfalls to avoid :

  • Failure to appropriately socialize
  • Treating customer experience as a “function” (vs. organizational competence)
  • Failure to align employee rewards with desired business results
  • Failure to (reasonably) empower employees

Activities can include:

  • Internal communications planning
  • Training development and delivery
  • Touchpoint improvement/creation/elimination

Step Six: Listen, Measure, Monitor, And Improve

Listening to customers is critical to experience definition and design. It’s equally important to recognize that your business–your industry, company, customers, and competition–isn’t sitting still. The only way to ensure you continually deliver on the needs of your customers is to continue listening to them and acting on this information. Benchmark internal vs. external metrics, and measure perceptions of your customers, employees, and competitors’ customers. Measure by channel, group, or region, or all of the above. As management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Customer experience is no different.

Objectives:

  • Leverage ongoing customer insights
  • Monitor and measure to track performance and continually improve
  • Customer experiences
  • Business impact

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Failure to continually monitor
  • Failure to take action on data
  • Failure to model experience drivers
  • Failure to measure at the touchpoint level
  • Failure to share data with all employees

Activities can include:

  • Metrics definition
  • VoC program design and implementation
  • Ongoing customer listening programs

Incremental Or Transformational Change?

Most companies are ultimately interested in transforming the ways they serve their customers. But the truth is, customer experience transformation–at the organizational level–isn't simple. It’s complex, costly, and time-consuming, and it requires active participation from everyone in the company. Done right, it touches every employee, customer segment, group, division, process, and system–some, of course, much more dramatically than others.

For the majority of firms, starting with a focus on a specific process, segment, life cycle stage, or business issue (e.g., acquisition, service quality, retention) can serve as the foundation for the business cases and prioritization frameworks to support broader customer experience improvement efforts.

Although the connection between customer experience and bottom-line results is intuitive and easy to understand, if your goal is to revolutionize the way your company interacts with customers, then you’ll need to bring the rest of your firm along with you. That’s why it pays to have proof-of-concept business cases to support it, plus a “quick win” or two under your belt to build internal support as you move down the path to experience transformation.

Together, these six steps will help you and other stakeholders rethink the nature of customer experience in your organization and provide a framework to help you improve–and potentially differentiate on–the ways you listen to, interact with, and serve your customers.

Customer Experience Strategy, Get it Right to Drive Success

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