Most of the companies we work with have a difficult time executing against a unified customer experience as different groups within the organization have different definitions and perceptions of what that experience should be. Customer Service tends to have a reactive approach, measuring performance through CSAT, response time, and reaction to market “noise”. On the other hand, Sales and Marketing may offer a different point of view of the customer experience, focusing more on the vision of what the buying experience should be. But rarely is this vision effectively operationalized across the organization consistently.
This lack of consistency across an organization can lead to conflicting goals and actions that create unintentional barriers to the customer experience, for example:
- Difficult online order processes
- Unfriendly return policies
- Unusable or unsuitable IVR systems
- Insufficient customer support representative staffing/management
- Cumbersome promotions that do not consider customer effort
- Loyalty programs built without considerations of support needed
- Marketing campaigns that focus on product features rather than customer benefit
When working with customers, we follow a three step process to create and execute a cohesive customer experience across your organization.
1) Map your customer journey
Fortunately, we now have a wealth of information and data that can be used to develop a roadmap of our customer journey and the effectiveness of each touch point within that journey. Customer experience is about interactions, and those interactions usually leave a trail of data that can be analyzed, understood and modeled. These interactions can include:
- Product awareness: ease of access to information needed to make purchase decision through traditional, web and social channels
- Purchasing process: CRM data analysis, IVR mapping, website content and traffic patterns
- Expectations of support: self-help, traditional support, social support, web-based content, videos
- Customer feedback: what mechanisms are in place, what is the process to address customer problems
In addition to analyzing data, you should spend some time being the customer of your own company and understanding how your organization presents itself to your customers (think “Undercover Boss”).
2) Identify the customer pain points
Understand that this can be an uncomfortable exercise. The issues you identify can be frustrating and often require you to admit that your current process isn’t working from the customer’s perspective…..even though they may seem well intended.
Using the data compiled in the previous step, identify the major points in your customer journey that are distracting from the customer experience. You may identify pages on your website that have high drop-off rates, low opportunity conversion rates for specific staff members, or specific promotions that do not generate repeat business.
Find and map these customer termination points against your customer journey, and then work to engage all groups that affect customer experience to help implement improvements, including customer support, sales, marketing, service, technology, and human resources.
3) Evangelize a unified customer experience vision
Once you’ve implemented resolutions to your customer pain points, you can start the process of engaging the entire organization and rallying around a single customer experience vision. Executive level sponsorship and commitment is critical to the success of this process. The executive team needs to make it known to all departments that customer experience is the top priority, and that resources should be focused on that single goal of customer experience.
Create and evangelize a set of universal tenants that embody the vision and commitment that should govern all customer interactions, for example:
- Interactions should be easy, fast and personal (when possible)
- Support personnel should be informed and empowered to resolve problems
- Content should be available in many forms and naturally consumed (knowledgebase articles, how-to videos, etc.)
- Tone should be consistent and speak the language of the customer
If you implement these three steps, you will have gone a long way in enhancing your customer experience and rallying your organization around supporting that journey. Ultimately it’s all about how you define and express your culture, and how well your culture matches your customers’ expectations. And most importantly, approach it as an ongoing process, continuing to identify areas of improvement and opportunity.
Rusty Langford is Vice President Client Services, Harte Hanks Contact Centers. Have you championed a customer experience vision at your organization? Share your experience with us on Twitter @hartehanks.
About the Author
In his twenty-five plus years in the customer services industries, Rusty has been involved in all aspects of direct marketing and customer management. He is currently responsible for client management for all contact center programs at Harte Hanks. He has a broad array of customer experiences, including traditional customer support, multichannel support (including social support programs), lead management and web-based initiatives for clients like Samsung, Microsoft, Major League Baseball, HBO and Barnes & Nobel.More Content by Rusty Langford