When it comes to customer experience, companies across industries are at different stages in their levels of maturity. While some companies are just beginning to explore ways to improve their customer experience efforts, other organizations that have progressed to becoming customer experience leaders have developed formalized processes and systems for delivering experiences to customers.Last week, I attended the MaritzCX CXFusion 2016 conference where I had a chance to speak with MaritzCX President & CEO Carine Clark about the key challenges companies are facing in moving their customer experience strategies forward along with recommendations for addressing these issues.
1to1Media: What are the common themes you're hearing from clients in terms of the primary customer experience challenges they're facing? Cultural issues? Departmental silos? Ownership?
Carine Clark: We are drowning in data. We can't get all of the data in one place, it's in silos.
Also, we need more sponsors inside the company. Not enough executives understand the power of the customer experience. Having an executive sponsor in the organization is pretty rare.
Teams that have good sponsors across the organization that can bridge across sales, marketing, and customer service are tied to outcomes, not scores.
There also aren't enough resources inside the company (to manage customer experience) so companies are reaching out to vendor partners for help. We believe the partners need to be integrated.
I've met with a few attendees at this event that are one-person customer experience teams. Do you find this to be common even in larger enterprises?
CC: I see this with one- or two-person teams even with enterprise companies. They have such a passion for doing a better job inside the company and they just don't want to give up. They want to dig through the piles of manure because they believe there's a pony in there.
What are some of the inherent challenges that small customer experience teams face? For instance, do they have enough clout to get things done across the organization? Do they face budget restrictions?
CC: Sometimes they have budget and no clout and sometimes they have clout and no budget. We work with clients and advise them to not get overwhelmed by what they can do but to focus on what will drive the most interest and acceptance within the organization. Help a business unit be successful and then you'll have allies.
Customer experience programs are unstructured in many companies where teams of user experience designers, IT professionals, marketing, customer service and people in other roles are thrown together and are left to figure it out together. Does this map with what you see with some organizations?
CC: If you talk to our customers, you'll see a loose confederation of models. Some have programs tied to compensation, others tied to loyalty. But they all have one thing in common: a passion for delivering better customer experience.
One of the reasons why we attract smaller teams is that we have research services at their call. It's another reason why we created CXEvolution (a free customer experience maturity self-assessment).
If you don't have a sponsor within the company, you're not going to reach the highest levels of customer experience maturity. But that doesn't mean you should stop.
What are the most important building blocks for achieving customer experience maturity?
CC: People should start with the current experience customers have with your company. You have to be aware of how bad it is or what the gaps are.
It's also useful to explore possibilities for improving the customer experience. For instance, imagine if customers no longer had to come into a branch to complete an interaction with a bank.
Also, you have to be willing to pay the check to do things.
You also have to be thoughtful about a culture that really cares about the customer. You want to make sure a customer never leaves dissatisfied.
What are some of the common characteristics you see among companies that have reached a higher level of customer experience maturity?
CC: Customer experience leaders aren't afraid of data. They're not afraid of having discipline around the data.
It's also about having a culture that's transparent and not being afraid of pushing within the organization.
For companies with lower levels of customer experience maturity, what are some broad recommendations for moving their efforts forward?
CC: We have a lot of prospects here at the conference and they may get intimidated when they see what an American Express or a Bank of America is doing. Pick one thing that you want to do.
We worked with a credit union that has $1 billion in assets. They had a limited field of service and they were concerned about growth as their customers were aging and they were having trouble attracting younger customers.
We recommended that they partner with a local university where 80 percent of students stay in the valley after graduation. That helped fuel their growth as graduates bought cars, bought houses, etc. Now they're looking to expand its field of service to a larger geography.
The bottom line is that companies that overlook customer experience will not survive.