Any company that can provide a great customer experience sets themselves apart from the rest. And “what does my customer want” is the question every savvy executive is always asking. The top companies understand the need for customer experience, and that how any organization delivers for their customers is now as important as what they are delivering.
Moving from touch points to journeys
A touch point is a point at which the brand touches the customer’s interest in the various points in the sales funnel. In order to make these points a great customer service experience, those touch points need to be turned into a customer journey.
Observe the customer’s journey as a whole
The journey consists of a progression of various touch points that are seamlessly integrated to add up to become the experience that the customer gets every time they interact with the brand. By seeing the journey in the same way that the customer does, a company can better organize and mobilize their staff to meet the customer’s needs.
Technology has given the customer the power to dictate the rules when it comes to purchasing goods and services. Around 75 percent expect a “now” service within a few minutes of an online contact request. And just as many want a simpler shopping experience, and use comparison apps while they are shopping, putting their trust in online reviews and personal recommendations. Customers expect the same kind of interaction and personalization from everyone, in the same way they get that from the leading sites such as Google and Amazon.
Identifying and understanding the customer’s journey means that you need to pay close attention to the whole experience from the customer’s perspective. Often companies tend to focus on individual touch points instead of the whole span of the journey with the touch points being a progression from start to finish.
The rewiring of a company to provide excellent customer experiences is a long journey in itself, and can take 2-4 years to complete. Moreover, it requires serious engagement from the leaders to the front line workers to make it work. The purpose of the distinctive customer experience must be clear to every employee with a simple, clear statement of intent. That statement of purpose should then be translated into a predefined set of principles and standards that guide staff behavior from the top to the bottom.
Shape the business from the customer side
Designing your customer experience requires you to reshape your interactions into different sequences, and will soon require digitizing your processes, reorienting your company culture, and refining these new approaches.
Customers expect high quality in both product and support from companies, as well as service performance and price. Companies often struggle to determine which factors are the most important to the customer segments they are handling. Understanding the handful of critical customer journeys can help to maintain a focus on the customer experience, and have a positive impact on customer satisfaction. Thus, you can begin to design your functions around your customer needs. The analytical tools available, alongside the data from operations and finance, can help companies understand the factors that drive what the customer says satisfies them as well as the behavior that gives them economic value. Quite often, the customer satisfaction has a lot to do with the unexpected factors.
Shaping the customer perception can also have a significant added value to the business. Behavioral psychology is helping the design process by identifying the major factors in what drives the customer’s level of perception and satisfaction. By redesigning the sequence of interactions to end on a positive note, customer satisfaction is guaranteed. Similarly, merging some of the different stages in the customer journey can make the whole seem shorter, and providing a few simple options can make them feel more in control.
Aligning the business to deliver no matter what
With customer experience becoming the major focus of marketing strategy, many executives are facing the decision of committing to a broad transformation of their customer experience. The first challenge they face is to restructure the organization and perform the roll-out while still working out how and where to start. However, by securing early economic wins you can deliver value to the customer and gain momentum for the continuation of innovative technology.
Every major customer experience leader uses motivated employees that embody the brand promise to their customers and are empowered to do the right thing. These customer-focused employees are the lifeblood of the business, and by working with them at every level, you can ensure their continued engagement in their focus on the customer experience.
But the key to customer satisfaction is not just measuring what happens. You also need to use the data to drive action in your organization. It is more about applying the information to action than what the information is. The journey needs to be at the center of the system and connected to all the other critical elements within.
Even for those companies that already have a smooth collaboration effort; the shift to a customer-centric model can be tough. Proper governance and leadership are needed to move from knowledge into actions. Companies at the top have full-time teams that carry out championing work on a daily basis within the various cross-functional customer journeys. Leaders at every level need to be role models for the behavior they want their employees to adopt, and commit to constant communication of changes in needs.
Moreover, these leaders need to show their employees how their efforts create value for the company. Too many initiatives to delight the customer have very clear costs, but very unclear short-term results. By defining the outcomes that matter and analyzing historical performances of both satisfied and dissatisfied customers, companies can build an explicit link to the creation of value, thereby focusing on the issues that result in the higher payouts. This requires a lot of patience and discipline, but the early wins that come as a result can build confidence in your organization and a momentum to continue.
Mastering the concept of an exceedingly good customer experience, and then executing it, is a major challenge. However, this is a big requirement for being the market leader in an environment where the customer holds all the power.
Article published in E-commerce