Just by googling customer experience, thousands of results appear that are a mouse-click away. From the basic definition explaining that customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship, to thousands of articles, companies, and individuals talking about or dealing with this subject.

The problem, however, lies with the fact that too few companies have a serious, well-thought, and honest approach when it comes to CX.

Fortunately, there is always room for improvement, and experts are willing and able to teach. It’s time to stop putting customer experience on the back burner. World’s leading CX influencers have gathered and shared valuable insights about this always-hot subject.

Let’s Start with What’s Wrong

There are so many things companies are doing wrong when it comes to customer experience. We’ve asked Peter Lavers, an IBM Futurist, and expert in CRM and customer experience management, for his advice on the subject:

‘The world is going omni-channel, and understanding / managing your customers’ cross-channel journeys and usage of ever-proliferating media are at the heart of Customer Experience theory.

Mistake 1: “Processing” Customers

Many companies concentrate their journey mapping efforts on “getting the processes right”. This approach is likely to see quality and consistency improvements, but often at the cost of the customer feeling “processed”.

Mistake 2: Outcome “Selfishness”

Something I have also seen all-too-often is where the journey/experience is designed only with the company’s objectives and desired outcomes in mind – i.e. a purely “inside out” approach. This can result in journeys that describe rather one-way “what we’ll do to you” communications (i.e., contact/DM plans) rather than engender genuine engagement and dialogue.’

Companies often Ignore Some Things

It’s not enough to only say you work on improving CX. Companies often want to improve it but blatantly ignore many factors that influence it. What do they ignore? The answer comes from Annette Franz. Annette is CEO of CX Journey Inc and an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert, CX Mentor, and a SoCal Local Networking Team Lead:

‘When it comes to customer experience, what businesses still tend to ignore is the employee experience. Quite simply, without employees, you have no customer experience. There is a clear linkage between the employee experience and the customer experience. It’s real, and your employees matter! We know this, and yet many companies still refuse to make the employee experience a priority, focusing instead on shareholder value, the bottom line, or customer experience without considering the implications of a poor employee experience to all of the above. If your employees aren’t engaged with your improvement efforts – or engaged overall with the organization – it will be very difficult for them to delight your customers and deliver the experience they expect.

It’s also important to remember that the employee experience begins long before the employee is hired. The candidate experience begins their true first exposure to what it’s like to be an employee of your company, unless they’ve got friends working for your company who have already shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those early days set the stage for a great (or not) future with your company.’

What Do Customers Expect, But Never Say?

The path to the perfect customer experience is not easy. Our partner, Certified Customer Experience Professional, and one of the leading CX influencers, Ian Golding, has shared what customers want and expect, but never actually say, based on his vast experience:

‘Every organisation on the planet has a customer journey – even if they are not consciously aware of it. Made up of a number of ‘touch points’ that define the interactions customers have with a company, how each touch point is perceived, will determine whether or not a company is able to meet AND sometimes exceed their expectation. Customers will subconsciously perceive every touch point in one of two ways – a touch point they ‘take as given’ (the basics) or one that ‘exceeds their expectation’. What customers expect – even if they never state it – is that every organisation they do business with is able to ‘get the basics right’ – every time. Failing to get the basics right will have the greatest effect on customer dissatisfaction than anything else!’

Putting Your Customer Journey Map to Work

Executive leader experienced in building corporate revenue through a loyal and referenceable customer base, Nancy Porte (VP, Global Customer Experience, Verint) has some inspiring insights as a Certified Customer Experience Professional:

‘I’ve seen many organizations put so much thought into creating a customer journey map, only for it to become nothing more than wall art. To avoid falling victim to this unfortunate fate, there are steps you can take to make sure your customer journey map remains a critical part of the overall service experience.

  • Map your CX future, prioritize improvements. Use your current customer journey map to determine how you want to evolve and what your service experience should look like. As a next step, include the right people to help prioritize the differences between the two maps. The result should provide a roadmap of all the things the CX team will need to coordinate and accomplish over a set period of time.
  • Leverage your map to motivate CX teams. I often bring our customer journey map to meetings, because it provides a visual on where processes, behaviours or attitudes can impact customer expectations. Seeing how customers “experience” your organization can translate into many “aha moments” with the customer-facing teams.
  • Use it to help employees know your customers better. Offer your employees an outside-in look at their organization by profiling your journey maps in an area where it can be viewed by all. Some companies have even created entire customer rooms to share this valuable information.

Creating high-quality and memorable customer experiences, especially in today’s market, requires an emphasis on storytelling as a strategic business tool. This makes the value of mapping the customer journey clear—it must illustrate the interaction between company and customer at every point in an understandable way. For the organization that puts them to work wisely, journey maps can be the go-to source of ideas for ongoing customer experience improvement.’

What’s the Catch?

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, he is perfect to conclude this article with a secret weapon for your business:

‘Your secret weapon in business is customer service. Wait! It’s not a secret anymore! Just about every company claims they deliver customer service. And, they do. But, most companies deliver average customer service. The goal is to be better than average. And, that’s the real secret. You don’t have to “WOW!” the customer all of the time to be amazing. Sure, when there are problems or complaints you’ll have the opportunity to go “above and beyond” and “WOW!” your customer. But day in and day out, just be better than average. And, that has to be all the time. By the way, it’s the “all the time” part that is hard. Consistency creates confidence. Confidence leads to loyalty. It is a consistent and predictable above-average experience that makes amazing companies… amazing.’

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About The Author

Blog Writer

Aleksandar Ilic is a blog writer covering different angles of customer experience-related topics. You will find more of his pieces at several Awards International’s blogs, such as CXA, UKBA, EXA, and DXA. In his free time, you'll find him at his desk, still working.