Customer experience management isn't rocket science. It doesn't require fancy algorithms or mastery of the dark arts (a reference to Harry Potter for those of you who missed it). What it does require, however, is some common sense.
So I decided to share six pieces of customer experience common sense:
- 1 quote about why customer experience matters
- 2 goals for your customer experience efforts
- 3 ingredients required to build a brand
- 4 customer experience core competencies
- 5 pieces of social media advice
- 6 laws of customer experience
1 Quote About Why Customer Experience Matters
Customer experience matters because it affects customer loyalty. This insight is not new. As a matter of fact, it was brilliantly articulated many decades ago by Walt Disney who said:
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."
Don't invest in customer experience efforts just because you think it is a good thing to do. That will never provide enough motivation to sustain the multiyear journey it takes to become a truly customer-centric organization. Only invest in customer experience transformation if you understand how it will increase loyalty with your target customers.
2 Goals for Your Customer Experience Efforts
Customer experience efforts are not altruistic; they need to accomplish something. So the goal of customer experience management is to change how an organization acts so that something changes with its customers. What are those things you can aim to change with customers?
1. Attitudes: How do you want those customers to think and feel about your company?
2. Behaviors: What do you want those customers to do?
Companies don't succeed just because of great customer experience. They succeed when their customer experience supports their overall business and brand strategy. If Zappos didn't offer the right shoes at the right prices, its great customer experience would be for naught. So customer experience efforts need to focus on creating the attitudes that reinforce the goals of your brand and the behaviors that support your business objectives.
3 Ingredients Required to Build a Brand
Without a strong brand to guide them, customer experience efforts can wander aimlessly. Here's my definition of a true brand:
The fabric that aligns all employees with customers in the pursuit of a common cause.
There's a very important implication of this definition: Companies don't own their brands. Let me say that in another way: You don't own your own brand. A true brand is an asset that is jointly owned by an organization and its customers… and it's a fragile relationship.
So how do you build true brands? With promises. Brand building is based on three ingredients (see Figure 1):
Figure 1: The Three Ingredients of a Powerful Brand
- Making promises. Companies need to be explicit about the purpose of their organization, which translates into promises that they make to customers.
- Embracing promises. It's nearly impossible to keep a promise that you don't know about, so everyone in an organization needs to understand the customer promises.
- Keeping promises. Companies need to make sure that they live up to their promises during every interaction in every channel.
4 Customer Experience Core Competencies
It takes more than a bunch of isolated projects for a company to become customer centric. So, what are the ingredients for long-term success? Temkin Group has identified four competencies that companies must master in order to build and sustain customer experience differentiation:
- Purposeful leadership: Does your leadership team operate consistently with a clear,
well-articulated set of values?
- Employee engagement: Are employees fully committed to the goals of your company?
- Compelling brand values: Are your brand attributes driving decisions about how you treat customers?
- Customer connectedness: Is customer feedback and insight integrated throughout your organization?
If you want to create a customer-centric organization, then you need to focus on all four of these areas. Why can't you just worry about one or two areas? Because organizations are only as strong as their weakest competency.
Using the Temkin Group competency model, we found that most companies have a long way to go across all four competency areas (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Levels of Customer Experience Competency
5 Pieces of Social Media Advice
In the recent Temkin Group research report Customer Experience Accelerates In 2011, we found that 79 percent of large organizations plan to focus more on social media this year than they did last year. No other area showed that level of increase. Here are five pieces of advice for staying grounded as you boost your social media efforts:
- Don't ignore existing customer conversations. While it's exciting to think about social media, you probably already have a goldmine of untapped customer conversations in your contact center. Don't get distracted from mining insights from existing calls, emails, and chats.
- Listen first, long before you start responding. Once you start listening to social media, you're bound to hear some things that aren't flattering. Don't start getting involved in those conversations until you understand what you're really hearing and who's saying it.
- Don't overreact to Dave's Guitar. In July 2009 Dave Carroll posted a video on YouTube about how he and his guitar were mistreated by United Airlines. It's been a big hit; with more than 10 million downloads. The reality is that even great companies periodically deliver bad experiences. So you can't plan a strategy around one poorly treated customer who happens to be a talented musician and filmmaker.
- Get brand promoters to speak for you. The best use of social media is getting adoring customers to sing your praise and defend your brand when others attack it. So find ways to create, identify, and motivate promoters to more actively engage wherever possible.
- Don't lose sight of who you are. The best social media efforts support a well-defined brand strategy. So make sure you have a clear understanding of your brand promises and your target customer segments before diving too deeply into social media.
6 Laws of Customer Experience
The most popular document that I've written about customer experience has been a free eBook called The 6 Laws of Customer Experience. It's a practical guide for understanding the dynamics within organizations that drive to customer experience. Here are the six simple laws:
1) Every interaction creates a personal reaction. Experiences are totally in the eyes of the beholder. So the only true measure of an experience can only come from customers.
2) People are instinctively self-centered. Employees almost always have a deeper understanding of products, company organization, and subject matter than customers. If left unchecked, decisions made inside of companies will often reflect the frame of reference of employees, not customers.
3) Customer familiarity breeds alignment. Given that most people want their company to better serve customers, a clear view of what customers need, want, and dislike can align decisions and actions. If everyone shared a vivid view of target customers and had visibility into customer feedback, then there would be less disagreement about what to do for them.
4) Unengaged employees don't create engaged customers. While you can make some customers happy through brute force, you cannot sustain a great customer experience unless your employees are bought in to what you're doing and are aligned with the effort.
5) Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated. People tend to conform to the environment that they're in. What are the key elements to the corporate environs? The metrics that are tracked, the activities that are rewarded, and the actions that are celebrated.
6) You can't fake it. You can fool some people for some of the time, but most people can eventually tell what's real and what's not – whether its employees or customers.
Hopefully you didn't find any of this information earth-shatteringly profound. Remember, customer experience management is all about common sense.
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About the Author: Bruce Temkin is customer experience transformist
and managing partner of Temkin Group. He blogs at Customer Experience Matters