Phil DurandPhil DurandSeptember 27, 2019
blueprint-964630_1280-1280x853.jpg

10min1190

It’s not long before the winners of the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards will be unveiled.

As one of the judges, Phil Durand (pictured), Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit knows that success comes in many forms and that the key to continued success is a combination of evolution, and the occasional spot of revolution…

 

 

Such is the growing acceptance of CX that there are few businesses today which have not embraced customer insight or deployed Voice of the Customer programmes in one form or another.

A greenfield site really is a rare find! This is great, but it’s fair to say that whether you are ‘doing it yourself’ or doing it on behalf of a client, there may be elements that you have inherited from a previous initiative that are no longer providing the insights that you need today.

There may some great foundations in place, but your business objectives may have changed and the CX programme may therefore need a refresh.

The challenge is how do you decide which aspects of the CX programme would benefit from renovation, and which elements should be discarded? From time-to-time, you need to take stock of what is working, what would benefit from remodelling, and where you need to pour new foundations and build from the ground up.

Take a listening inventory

A useful way to initiate a CX remodelling exercise is to take a listening inventory to help you identify and increase your focus on current business objectives; improve the integration of operational data with customer feedback; better understand how, when, and what types of questions are asked; and how you can use the results (beyond improving NPS and customer satisfaction scores) to drive business change.

Note: do not assume that your CX team controls every customer survey, because you’ll almost certainly be wrong. In any large business, it is incredible to learn how many well-intentioned but often ill-advised surveys are being sent out to customers seemingly at random. Find them!

Consider the following questions:

Is anyone using the data?

If people are no longer taking action on the feedback gathered, why ask?

You may be asking survey questions that are no longer aligned to current business objectives. If surveys and reports aren’t motivating people to do things differently within your organisation, don’t be afraid to consign them to the bin.

Ask yourself what business problems need to be solved, or what business objectives need to be achieved. What should be the focus of your CX surveys? Achieving culture change? Increasing revenue? Reducing costs? Uncovering cross-selling opportunities?

Is it too vanilla? 

If the CX programme only uses surveys to gather data, it’s probably time to try something different. Try integrating background data with simple surveys to make the process easier on customers and to add depth to reporting. This will enable CX teams to more efficiency prioritise key customers and critical actions with the additional context. 

If you are not integrating operational data with customer feedback, it will be much harder to create a truly accurate and complete picture of the customer. Mapping and integrating data from across the business could help to make CX data more useful and actionable, providing additional detail and different perspectives.

Too many questions? 

This is the most common cause of low response rates and dismal completion rates. The last thing any organisation should do is turn customers away from the brand by deploying surveys that are too long.

The solution is to minimise disruptions to customers by cutting irrelevant or unnecessary questions. Try to look at survey questions from the customer’s point of view – what would they like to answer and when? Is the relationship survey being sent around a customer renewal date? Are you using triggers like when people have filed a complaint or purchased an additional product?

Are you addressing shrinking attention spans by keeping questions short and using phrases customers will easily understand? Can you replace half a dozen closed questions with more open questions that invite customers to share their stories in their own words?

If so, do it and use text analytics to mine the insight from these words.

Spread too thin? 

If the CX team is trying to do too much, there could be an increased risk of programme sprawl. This will not only result in haphazard data and customer-facing chaos but potential damage to the brand. Your CX programme must have a clear structure, a well-defined plan and a commitment to consistency. Otherwise it will be hard or nearly impossible to connect all the data. 

What is your definition of success? Is there an executive sponsor sharing the results? Is there a dedicated team responding to systematic issues customers are raising? Is there a network of frontline CX champions with a clear role?

Sharing ownership of CX across the entire business will help you to drive business change. Remember, collecting data is great but the aim is not just to analyse it but to use it to bring about business change. Can you link your CX activities back to financial metrics like an increase in revenue or cost reduction? Look beyond improvements in NPS and customer satisfaction scores.

Continuous improvement

Whether your CX programme requires a complete rebuild, an extensive remodel, or a lick of paint, completing a listening inventory will help you take a step in the right direction. Taking the time to audit the programme will help you to protect the brand; ensure the efficient use of technology and help you engage with your customers.

The single source of VoC truth is an achievable goal and if you put in place a process of continuous improvement, you will achieve your goal of delivering richer insights and enhance Customer Experience at the same time.


Phil DurandPhil DurandOctober 26, 2018
bonding-1985863_1280-1280x705.jpg

9min2251

Phil Durand is Director of CX Management at Confirmit and  judged at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.

Perhaps the most telling observation from judging at this year’s Customer Experience Awards is that passionate and personal accounts from CX professionals made their programmes come alive.

Sharing their successes and failures ‘in person’ proved to be more engaging than an online submission or scorecard could ever hope to be. The lesson for all of us at a time when AI is being hailed as a key enabler of CX? Remember the human factor and enable people to interact with – and be inspired by – people.

By all means use AI or machine learning to do the ‘heavy lifting’, to process increasing volumes of customer data, and optimise analysis based on key criteria, but remember that the algorithms deployed are only as good as the humans that programme them. Automation and analytics can clearly guide our understanding of trends and patterns, while regression analysis can help to prioritise the next best course of action.

However, we must remember to look beyond the figures and use the insight we gather to make the final decisions about how to deliver a differentiated experience that meets individual customer needs. In other words, we should use new and emerging technology to liberate us from labour-intensive spreadsheet analysis. This leaves us free to really listen to what our customers are saying and reduce the risk of providing a homogenised experienced.

In which case, we would do well to remember that we must always find out what our customers feel about an experience. Then we can combine the human skills of empathy and intuition with context and environment to do it better, next time.

Instead of reducing CX to a mathematical equation, tracking averages and setting narrow parameters, CX professionals must remember that AI does not have the ability to take into account many human issues. For example, preference, politics or unforeseeable variables like what kind of morning someone had. Because, as we all know, emotion is at the heart of most – if not all – decisions.

Fortunately, we now live in a world where the desire for self-expression and authenticity has also resulted in many platforms that provide customers with vocal and visual means to share their opinions which CX Professionals can now incorporate into Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes. Generation Z – and the rest of us – can now record, post, and share our feelings, attitudes, and experiences, direct from our smartphones and other digital devices, as frequently and loudly as we wish.

The challenge for CX professionals that want to encourage a more conversational and interactive approach to customer feedback is how to harness this desire. How do we encourage people to communicate via social media platforms, photos, and video, to hear ‘first-hand’ what customers think and feel, and to engage on a more emotional or direct level? If you’re going to open up channels to let people tell you what you want, you need to be ready to act on what they say.

What does this mean in practical terms? Unsurprisingly, mobility really matters. Make it easy for people to engage and provide feedback using any mobile device anywhere, anytime. Keep surveys short and touch-screen friendly and avoid tick boxes and multiple choice. Strong and relevant opinions are more likely to be provided via open-ended questions and the ability to provide verbatim responses that can be typed out or recorded as the spoken word should be a given.

Better still, encourage unstructured, multimedia feedback in the form of short videos so that you can literally see what your customers think. Make sure that ‘what?’ questions are followed by ‘why?’ questions so that you can get real insight into how they really feel.

Video diaries obviously allow for an even more detailed review or demonstration of how a product or service is being used, and if you want to find out what customers think in a single image, encourage them to create a meme to summarise their experience.

The aim of course is to capture the direct, honest, and passionate feedback needed to bring Customer Experience to life so that we as CX Professionals can combine the emotion and attitudes expressed with broader trend analysis.

Yes, there is no denying that careful analysis of what is said about what subject, as well as the personal sentiment and instinctive reactions that customers reveal on camera, will be required. Here, AI has an important role to play in analysing unstructured data.

Sentiment analysis can be used to help classify, filter, tag, and identify themes, patterns, and trends. Emotion recognition technology has the ability to record and analyse even the most fleeting of facial movements, using machine-learning algorithms to judge the face being viewed against a reference database of expressions. 

These capabilities provide a new way to view and understand what customers feel first hand, compare it with what they say, and then analyse trends across focus groups and the customer base at large. However, it’s imperative that we value the human skills of interpretation, intuition, and empathy.

Moving away from traditional surveys to more non-scripted, conversational interfaces should enable us to benefit from technology, not be replaced by it. New skills may be required, but the key thing to remember is that people are motivated by people. If we are prepared to put our customers in the driving seat, enabling them to say what they want, however they want, in the most direct way, we will get a much clearer picture of what the human issues are, over and above what the metrics say.

There is a balance to be struck between what technology can offer and where the human factor continues to prevail. But as this year’s CXA winners proved, the power of personal interaction and passionate conviction should not be forgotten.

Change in any organisation has never been driven solely by a computer or an algorithm. Change is driven by people using computers, alongside many, many conversations to engage, encourage, inform, coerce, persuade, and win over more people.


Phil DurandPhil DurandOctober 16, 2018
book-1659717_1280-1280x734.jpg

7min2014

Phil Durand is Director of CX Management at Confirmit and  judged at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.

The nominees for the Best Use of Insight & Feedback category – which was won by BT Consumer – at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards quite rightly highlighted the importance of securing executive buy-in and engaging employees to go the ‘extra mile’. However, what most impressed me were those organisations that stressed the need for effective storytelling to drive culture change.

Taking a systematic approach to capturing Customer Experience (CX) across an organisation helps them to track and drive CX improvements across the globe. Companies who place emphasis on the value of clear journey mapping; consistent customer metrics; real-time reporting; and individual case management will certainly see the benefits.

Gathering customer intelligence across multiple touchpoints is vital, as is providing business leaders with strategic dashboards to help identify the big issues for customers and increase the focus on driving improvement across key metrics.

However, it’s storytelling that really makes a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme sing. Yes, the willingness of the executive team to make CX a board-level issue is essential. Establishing customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets certainly brings CX into the heart of the business. Yet the ability to get the message across to employees – at all levels, regardless of whether they are customer facing or even have the word ‘customer’ in their job titles – about their role in delivering a great Customer Experience is what really delivers success.

Why? Because employees are more likely to use their initiative on the front line if they feel that they have the skills and, more importantly, permission to resolve customer issues ‘on the spot’.

Storytelling – sharing real customer stories and examples of best practice – is instrumental in enabling organisations to move beyond pure metrics and to embed an ‘outside-in’ view of customers’ needs and wants into everything they do. Having a vision or a long-term goal for CX is great, but to create a truly customer-centric organisation, you must encourage everyone in the business to make CX part of their DNA. It is not just the preserve of the customer service or marketing team.

In order to present your CX programme as a story that people will listen to, identify with – and more importantly, act upon – you have to ensure that your employees understand three things:

  • The purpose of the CX programme (the desire to become market leader or to be customer-centric, for example)
  • The characters involved (the company, employees, customers, competitors)
  • The plot (what has changed, where are the bottlenecks, how can things be improved and what has already made a difference?)

Roadshows that showcase real customers, real experiences, and real feedback are a good example of how to put storytelling into practice and literally show employees what role they could play in the overall CX production. The lasting engagement achieved at these ‘show and tell’ sessions is something that simply can’t be achieved just by sharing improvements in metrics – no matter how good the graph!

Similarly, offering a non-prescriptive guide to what ‘good practice’ looks like can provide a reference tool kit that enables employees to draw upon what has worked for others. They can then devise solutions that are appropriate for each customer and situation, without seeking management approval. The trick here is to track results so you don’t have different people making the same mistakes.

Sharing good news stories about excellent Customer Experience as part of a proactive internal communications programme will ensure that the stock of exemplar case studies for employees to reference as part of ongoing training and learning programmes is constantly refreshed.

It’s also essential to add good and bad customer comments and verbatims alongside NPS, NES, and NSS scores to bring these key metrics to life, enabling employees to draw a direct line between scorecards and actual Customer Experience.

In my opinion, it’s this ability to translate flat data into coaching and learning aids that ultimately makes a VoC programme thrive. Persuade everyone in the organisation to join the CX cast of many – narrating, performing, and sharing stories of success – and your CX programme can become the greatest show on earth.


Phil DurandPhil DurandOctober 18, 2017
F38A6471-1024x683.jpg

5min1063

If there is one message that came across loud and clear from the 2017 Customer Experience Awards, it’s this: act on customer feedback if you want to drive culture change and impact the bottom line.

Yes, we always want to know more: what are our customers thinking? What do they want more of? What part of a transaction did they enjoy? Were they disappointed in our service? But we really must resist the temptation to use technology to push out new surveys, using all manner of channels, in order to collect more and more data.

The most mature CX programmes recognise that the answers to many questions are often right in front of you, lying in the existing data and insight you currently have in contact centre records, emails, complaints processes, and CRM databases.

More importantly, this year’s winners also demonstrated that it’s the ability to translate data into actionable insight that will provide us with a deeper understanding of the CX throughout the entire buyer journey – without wasting customers’ time and goodwill asking unnecessary questions!

The most effective surveys only ask for additional insight or to close the loop and the best CX programmes let the customer know what action was taken based on the feedback they provided.

Virgin Money is a great example of an organisation committed to not only listening to its customers but to changing its business to deliver world-class CX. It quite rightly won the ‘Best Financial Services – Banking and Investment’ Award this year for its strategic, company-wide Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme.

It stands out as an example of VoC best practice because VoC is embedded into every aspect of the business. It listens to new, existing and former customers in order to understand what it is getting right and also to find out where it can make improvements.

The feedback provided by customers has enabled Virgin Money to put in place hundreds of change activities across the company every year. The combination of actionable insight and a commitment to continuous improvement is not only enhancing the relationships that customers have with the brand, improving service delivery and developing Virgin Money’s loyalty proposition. It is also helping to increasing revenues.

It’s this ability to make a real difference to customers whilst making timely and tangible improvements to the business that enables a strategic VoC programme to deliver real value.

Using feedback to identify at-risk accounts or broken processes enables companies to address issues head on. It enables businesses to retain customers that might otherwise have been lost if they had not acted on the crucial information that was placed in its hands and thereby protect revenue streams.

Unfortunately, it is still the case that companies don’t always act on customer problems or complaints until it’s too late. Clearly, putting in place an action management process that enables you to analyse customer feedback as soon as it’s received and set alerts to immediately respond to issues and problems, provides the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.

All too often, companies focus too much attention on chasing metrics – whichever one they use – and trying to figure out how to move the number rather than finding out what the number is trying to tell them.

So it’s essential that as CX professionals we translate the numbers that have been collected into real words so that the business can dive deeper into the insight and ensure that actions are the output.

So what’s the biggest lesson from the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards?

Designing a CX programme is never ‘one size fits all’ – what makes sense for one organisation might not make sense for the next. What is important for all CX programmes is making sure you’re truly listening to the voice of the customer – listening to it and then acting upon it.

Don’t just send out another survey because you have the technology to do so; award-winning CX programmes squeeze every bit of insight out of the feedback from customers and then do something about it!


Phil DurandPhil DurandSeptember 26, 2017
-482F6DA822A5D22401683ED4A302B5AD5EA7BD316F13A48F9C-pimgpsh_fullsize_distr-1024x683.jpg

7min650

There’s a good reason why the old adage ‘change is good’ still rings true. It keeps us on our toes, enables us to re-invent ourselves, and keeps us competitive.

In the corporate world, many suggest that the only real constant in business is change, but Phil Durand at Confirmit asks, how do you make it work for you and not against you?

Whether you are reacting to enforced change because of new entrants into the market or endeavouring to improve business processes to increase revenue, one thing is clear: listening to your most important asset – your customers – is the most effective way to manage or control the rate of change and to ensure that any adjustments to products, services, or the organisation itself will deliver positive results for the business.

Customers provide invaluable reviews and recommendations but they are also often the first to identify a problem with a new piece of kit or a problem with billing, calling into the contact centre, or posting a comment on Twitter.

It’s no surprise then that Customer Experience (CX) is regarded as central to reputation, sales, and business success overall.

It also explains why organisations are increasingly taking a ‘customer first’ attitude to every facet of their business in order to take a proactive approach in evolving customer requirements and preferences to retain their business and goodwill.

Making CX a board-level issue – and establishing customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets – is bringing CX into the heart of the business.

There are some great examples of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes that are helping businesses identify what they need to do to improve Customer Experience and thereby increase customer retention, identify the most profitable products or customers, and reduce the cost of dissatisfaction and complaints.

One company that’s doing an excellent job of using customer feedback to change the way they operate is Virgin Money.

They’re a finalist in several categories of the UK CX Awards this year, and it’s not hard to see why. Their highly structured VoC programme focuses on new, existing, and former customers, as well as directly helping to increase revenues and customer satisfaction. It’s also driving culture change – something that underpins everything else.

There is also growing recognition that Voice of the Employee (VoE) programmes can help to drive employee engagement at the frontline, empowering employees to recommend enhancements to business processes that will improve customer satisfaction whilst ensuring they have the skills, motivation, and permission to use their initiative ‘on the spot’.

However, the challenge going forward is how to improve our ability to look ahead, to predict the next big thing, and knowing what is at risk.

Our ability to collect and harness customer insight – whether it be from an online survey or via social media, direct from the customer, or via the contact centre – is going to become increasingly important if we are to devise strategies in favour of the customer.

So, whilst metrics such as Net Promoter Score or repurchase propensity have served the CX community well – and will continue to do so – there needs to be much greater focus on the future, not the past.

Putting the emphasis on ‘how customer behaviour and demand will shift over the next six months’ will increase our ability to achieve the continuous improvement in performance and productivity needed to reduce churn and protect the bottom line.

In order to respond to the customer in a more agile manner, we need to replace hard-to-digest and often lengthy reports that lead to ‘analysis paralysis’ with actionable insight and alerts that draw upon customer data from multiple touchpoints and multiple channels in real-time.

Harnessing the power of text analytics will ensure we are listening to the customers’ true opinions across all manner of structured and unstructured feedback channels; making greater use of predictive analytics will undoubtedly increase our ability to analyse customer behaviour and previous purchasing patterns to predict future outcomes.

The board must be able to strategise on leading indicators from all stakeholders and to integrate all their ‘voices’ with other business insights – such as CRM, financial, and operational data – via a single dashboard if they are to truly understand the impact of changing customer preferences and priorities across the entire business.

But it’s also important that these same dashboards can be accessed by employees and managers alike so they can take a deep dive into the data to better understand specific customer profiles, for example, and see the direct impact of good CX on customer satisfaction and on their scorecards for themselves.

CX clearly has the potential to be the ultimate differentiator for businesses striving to acquire new customers and secure repeat business, but it’s evident that organisations that can establish a mature CX and employee engagement strategy – capable of adapting to constantly evolving customer and market requirements – will be best placed to offer real value and keep customers on board for the long haul.


Phil DurandPhil DurandJuly 24, 2017
vienna-2335419_1920-1024x682.jpg

7min734
Written by: Phil Durand, Director Customer Experience Management, Confirmit

Wembley. It’s always just a little further away than I remember. However the journey was well worth it when I joined Awards International at its annual UK Financial Services Experience Awards as a judge searching for the ‘Most customer centric organisation’.

What I always love about these events is the chance to listen to people as they tell their stories. And in that respect there is often a pattern. A business need comes to the fore, senior management and leadership gather around saying things like ‘things must change’. Enter stage left a plucky, idea-filled optimist with the beginnings of a plan and a battle cry of ‘who’s with me?’ A team of multi-skilled believers are drawn to the cause and the plan gradually becomes a reality. Results are seen, good ones too. People sit up and take note. Customers start saying nice things. The business need is addressed. And all is well with the world.

Continuing on this theme, one of the key drivers for the winning entrant for customer centricity – Intelenet – was the need develop a seamless experience for the customer despite the inevitable complexity of the business.
Intelenet is based in India, providing off-shore support for a number of brands. Listening to their story, it quickly became obvious that they secured their win because of the sheer lengths they went to in order to solve the problems that had grown and evolved within the disparate systems of one of their key corporate customers. Of course, the customer in question had the foresight to realise there was a problem, the humility to ask for help and the budget to pay for a solution. But it’s worth noting that their problems were solved outside of their corporate machinery – by someone else. Indeed Intelenet built them a map that has made a real difference to their business.

The best way to explain what they did is to ask if you’ve ever phoned a bank and got the feeling you’re being passed from one team to another until, either by design or chance, you find yourself speaking to someone who can actually help? This is the problem Intelenet solved by going to extraordinary lengths.

They developed a way to join together all the disparate systems within the client, creating a single front end that drew information from the right bits of the right systems when needed. In essence, the agents on the phone went from having to contend with many multiples of systems, naturally each with its own login and password, to a single interface that contained all they might ever need.

Overcoming the evolved complexity of their client’s systems, and building a simpler experience for the agent, introduced instant benefits for the customer. Issues were resolved on first calls more often; calls didn’t need to last as long (this is a point about real efficiency of process, not to be confused with the arcane drive to keep average call handling times down); agents had the correct information at their fingertips, quickly. And guess what? Customers noticed.
I’ve described Intelenet’s approach to solving its client’s business need in less than 100 words – which doesn’t do justice to the sheer effort and intelligence of what they developed as a solution. However, huge congratulations must go to them – and to all the other entrants – for their near-intoxicating dedication to doing the right thing for the customer.

Each of the nominees demonstrated that there is a very real need to build, deliver and maintain a customer centric approach to business in the financial services sector. Consumers increasingly rate the customer experience, along with the financial stability of their institution, as the most important factor in determining their degree of trust in and loyalty to their provider.

When FS customers call the contact centre they now expect a higher level of expertise and personalisation, and they expect their prior digital interactions – on the corporate website, mobile applications etc – to be tracked. Agents are expected to understand the context and reasons for each contact. Those interacting at the coal face must be able to apply their knowledge, account history, and best practices to resolve customer issues, and help them achieve their financial goals. And they can only do this if they are work as a team, with the customer at the heart of every process and at the centre of everything they do.

Interesting Links:




Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


CONTACT US

CALL US ANYTIME



Contact Information

For article submissions:
Editor
Paul Ainsworth
editorial@cxm.co.uk

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
advertising@cxm.co.uk
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
antonija@cxm.co.uk
Tel: 0207 1937 483

Awards International ltd
Acacia Farm, Lower Road,
Royston, Herts, SG8 0EE
Company number: 6707388

JOBS IN CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


Newsletter