On the road to customer excellence
Supporting the bottom line
I’m very passionate about attaining excellence in the customer experience, both in my work and private life. I know I'm not alone in that respect - in fact a past American Express study, showed that receiving great customer service triggers the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved. And it’s not only good for the heart, but good for business too. An Accenture study established that 66% of consumers switch brands due to poor customer service – with 82% of those switching saying the brand could have done something to stop them.
And the great news from a consumer perspective is that many companies cite Customer Experience as their number one priority in 2015 and beyond.
Strengthening the weakest link
Across the customer journey there can be many types of possible interactions from consideration to purchase to consumption to managing potential post-purchase dissonance and the ongoing value relationship.
Therefore a company is only as strong as its weakest link given the many different points of interaction worthy of consideration.
For example great User Experience (UX) - say through a website interface to purchase a product - doesn’t equate to a great Customer Experience (CX), if for example, consumers are let down by customer services being unable to answer subsequent questions. A failure in one part of the experience is all it takes to create a negative impression. In this particular case UX is one element within the overall CX.
That’s why seeing the big picture and developing a holistic approach is vitally important to achieving overall excellence.
So who champions this?
Taking a bottom-up approach that empowers and supports key ground-floor staff to provide customer excellence is essential across the client organisation. It also needs top down senior level sponsorship to help imagine, foster and deliver this too. But who ‘owns’ sponsorship of this experience:
Is it Customer Services?
Or maybe Operations?
Any of the above functions could lay claim to this. However, arguably individual ownership within a function won’t deliver the best outcome. Not even if the senior executive co-ordinates across all groups within the company. Put simply they are unlikely to achieve an enterprise wide solution if their primary priority and attention is still the remit of their own department.
So given the importance of this role, many larger organisations, especially in the US are investing in dedicated Chief Customer Officer (CCO) roles. The role of the CCO is to then imagine, define and orchestrate their customer strategies across the entire organisation through championing and acting on behalf of the consumer.
Ready, steady, go…
Finally, some pointers for client organisations to think about on the road to achieving customer excellence:
Focus on the sweetspot where customer value and business value intersect
Think about the entire customer journey to address the weakest links across the entire organisation
Develop a mix of top-down sponsorship and bottom-up empowerment that moves beyond silo ownership of the customer to enterprise ownership to drive excellence across the client organisation
Adopt outside-in thinking through customer feedback loops to gather and act upon valuable insights as well as learning from comparators best-in-class experiences
Promote and foster a ‘brain-trust’ type working environment for partner agencies to collaborate together and excel in delivering a fully joined-up superior customer experience