It's easy for executives to say that they want to use customer experience as a competitive differentiator, but putting action behind those words isn't always so easy. Customer experience management (CEM) comprises service, branding, employee engagement, and the like. In fact, I recently attended Strativity Group's two-day customer experience management (CEM) certification course, and came away with pages and pages of notes on those areas and more.
I poured over those pages and compiled a list of the questions, observations, and advice that to me were most notable. I've presented it here, by area of interest:
+ Executives think, "How can I close the quarter with the most sales?" Customers, on the other hand, want a relationship--especially when a company claims that partnering with customers is what sets it apart from competitors.
+ How many unprofitable customers are you doing business with in the name of market share? Proceed with caution if those customers don't have growth potential. Why? There are myriad obvious reasons, but here are two that are often overlooked: 1. Profitable customers don't want to "sponsor" unprofitable customers. And, 2) you simply cannot delight customers who are not the right customers.
+ One size fits all is the enemy of any customer-centricity program.
+ For many companies it's the prospect, not the customer, who's king. The height of customer commitment often is the same time customers are most taken for granted. This is called the relationship paradox.
+ Nearly 85 percent of "satisfied" customers will listen to competitive offers. Earning customer loyalty means asking customers to bypass price considerations and to continue doing business with you.
+ When you ask customers for their loyalty, expect them to ask, "Can you reciprocate?"
+ How do we reward customers for doing what we want?
+ You need to define excellence in the customers' terms, not in your terms. Storytelling will help you communicate what excellence is for your organization.
+ Before you rush to say, "That's not our core competence," think customer centric versus product centric. When Apple introduced the iPod, for example, it also launched iTunes--in other words, a complete customer experience: a device, software, legal downloads, and more. So, when considering what more your organization can do, ask yourself, "Are there mature and tired markets, or just tired executives?"
+ Every touchpoint is an opportunity to excel or fail.
Voice of the customer:
+ Companies that work in a vacuum create their own commoditization. Listen to customers to create an experience that's about them. That's when their purchase drivers move from price to value. It's not about how companies create a product; it's about how customers consume them.
+ Always assume that a complaint represents a broken process, not an individual experience. When attempting to fix the process, define it from the customers' perspective, not yours.
+ Contact centers can provide executives with leading indicators of customer trends.
+ Companies design surveys with a thank-you in mind; customers respond to surveys with action in mind. So when you launch a survey, you need to have a cross-functional team ready to respond to customers' feedback.
+ Branding sets customer expectations. Don't promise something the company can't deliver.
+ Customers have more impact on brand than ever because of the Web. Social media, online communities, and the like increase the power of the consumer at the expense of the power of the company.
+ As negative word of mouth increases, so does the cost of acquiring new customers.
+ Everyone in the organization needs to understand that they're in the customer business. Remind them: If you don't think you're part of the customer experience you could be subject to "outsourcing."
+ Employees need to understand how their job impacts not just the customer experience, but also the bottom line. Help them understand customer value, segmentation, cost per call, and the like. This will enable them to justify the decisions they're empowered to make.
+ Employees will trust management only if managers add value to their staff. Make employees feel like the missing piece of the puzzle, not one paper clip in a pile of a thousand.
+ Most training today is designed for repeatability, not exceptions. But mastering the exceptions is where employees can surprise and delight customers most.
What advice do you have?