Customer experience management is gaining traction. The impact of the economy, uncompromising customer expectations, and social media as a megaphone of customer experiences good and bad has organizations
shifting from talking about customer centricity to acting on it.
"Over the past 18 months
companies have started to
focus on getting [customer
experience] right again," Enkata
Founder Ron Hildebrandt told me
earlier this week. "I hate to say
that social media has companies
concerned about getting customer
experience wrong; that they're
scared straight. Hopefully, they're
also doing it because of the
strategic benefits."One thing organizations need to get customer experience right is great examples to follow, Hildebrandt said. He cited FedEx, Zappos and the recent turnaround of Sprint as companies with best practices worth emulating. Another is to focus on the practical aspects of what it takes to get customer experience right. "Whether it's a chief customer officer, a marketing leader, or a customer experience team, I'm seeing executives turn their attention to operationally connecting the brand strategy to service execution."
For example, he said, Chase has shifted from its former goal of being a low-cost provider of credit cards to being one focused on customer experience excellence, like American Express. In the past every decision was based on "is it cheap?" like reducing handle time and repeat calls. "It was never about the customer experience," Hildebrandt said.
Chase hired executives from American Express to reinvigorate its customer experience. The goal is to be savvy about the shift. "Customer experience is not about selling fluff; it's about showing the economics of customer loyalty: 'Here's the revenue you lost by having an NPS of only X instead of Y,'" Hildebrandt said. The new focus translates to improvements in areas like segmentation, coaching and training, and customer-focused KPIs and incentives. "It's about taking a practical approach all the way through to the front line."
Another area Hildebrandt cited as essential to the customer experience is analytics. Organizations should use analytics to take a more proactive approach to customer service, for example. In the case of Sprint, the telecom uses a technique Hildebrandt calls next call prevention. Regardless of why a customer calls the telecom's contact center, a customer service agent can offer to help with something else that the customer might call about in the near future--based on prompts queued from predictive analytics. If, for instance, someone whose contract is about to expire calls about a billing question, once the issue is resolved the agent could offer to arrange an upgrade to a new handset. This not only delivers a better customer experience, it also reduces costs and potentially increases sales and retention.
Finally, Hildebrandt noted the importance of a consistent cross-channel customer experience. "Organizations must understand how they're doing from end to end; from the first contact and across channels," he said. This includes determining how the experience in one channel influences or impacts the experience in another channel. For example, does the website help to reduce calls to the contact center, or is there something missing or not working online that actually prompts calls? "Companies need to eliminate the gaps between channels," he said, adding that organizations should use analytics here, as well, to find opportunities for improvement and then take action.
Unfortunately, Hildebrandt said, some companies aren't set up to make these changes happen at the speed many customers now expect. "I'm seeing many companies move from talk to early adoption," he said. Senior executives like a chief customer officer, who have a cross-channel view, can help to make change happen.