Delivering great customer experiences is hard to do. If it was easy everyone would do it. Sustained success comes with patience, commitment and plenty of failure along the way. Making that commitment to deliver a superior customer experience can turn a laggard into a fierce competitor, or a failure into an industry leader.
The nine winners of the 2015 Gartner & 1to1 Media Customer Experience Excellence Awards, demonstrate such dedication and commitment. They had a vision. They established goals and objectives. And they ensured those goals met customer expectations.
After these winners established big picture, high-level visions across their organizations, they dove into the nitty-gritty side of customer experience and created processes, assembled cross-departmental teams to oversee the progress, and sought out technologies to make them agile enough to respond intuitively to customers' needs, presenting them with the right kind of engagement in the right channel at the right moments in their journeys.
These nine companies make CX look easy. But it's not. According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree. It's no surprise, as numerous challenges block progress. According to a Gartner survey released at last year's Gartner Customer 360 Summit, the top 10 challenges facing customer initiatives were (1) multiple sets of customer data and information existing in disparate systems, (2) organizational change, (3) creating a customer experience vision, (4) getting a grip on customer data and information, (5) understanding the extent to which IT is/should be responsible for customer initiatives, (6) developing a CRM strategy, (7) CRM technology deployment, (8) process definition, (9) poor or inconsistent understanding of strategy, and (10) getting marketing, IT, and customer service to collaborate on customer programs.
As customer experience devotees, we must continuously find ways to overcome these ubiquitous challenges in an effort to ensure our customer strategies are evolving and meeting our customers' needs.
These nine companies have inspired me and I hope they inspire you too. In reviewing their initiatives I noticed some common themes, and offer these three tips from the winners in the Transformational Customer Experience category for exceeding consumer expectations and getting the most out of your customer service environment:
1. Establish a Clear Vision: George Washington Carver said, "Where there is no vision there is no hope." Tasked by its board of directors to solve its service crisis, Genband, the Gold winner in the Transformational Customer Experience category, had a clear problem statement that helped steer its strategy and resolution. This in turn helped to craft the company's "get-well" plan.
2. Collaborate: For customer experience to become an important component of any company, it must touch all key stakeholders throughout an organization. In the case of Philadelphia Insurance Company, the Silver winner in the Transformational Customer Experience category, a top-down initiative was delivered across the organization through its CEO. Once the groundwork had been set, Seth Hall, SVP of Customer Service, delivered the message effectively across the organization. This communication effort was well thought out, methodical in approach, and intended to ensure all employees clearly understand.
3. Measure, Measure, Measure: The old adage is true: You can't manage what you can't measure. For Code42, the Bronze winner in the Transformational Customer Experience category, the most important metrics are the ones directly associated with the customer. Performance is tracked by recording customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, and the conformity to response Service Level Agreements. Its innovative approach of combining quality assurance with customer champion disciplines, ensures Code42 continuously improves and sees significant benefits along the way.
I hope this years' winners will inspire your own customer-focused ideas and journeys. Who knows, next year we could be honoring you!