With the Institute of Customer Service recently warning that the “survival of the fittest will be driven by how well customers are served” and 33 percent of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, there is no doubt that Customer Experience continues to be a main concern for organisations big and small.
Even though Customer Experience transformation has been a focus of most organisations now for going on 10 years, how many of those transformation programmes still have the energy, focus, and effectiveness that they had when they were first created?
Just as times have changed politically, economically, and financially over the last decade, the process of keeping the customer at the heart of what you do needs to evolve. Here are five tips on rebooting your Customer Experience Transformation programme; CX 2.0.
Dedicate a space
Organisations have long felt the benefit of bespoke sales suites where they can engage with better, more strategic conversations with their enterprise customers. However, few have a dedicated space for engaging with customers around the experience they provide, a place where you and your customers can co-create future experiences.
We are starting to see organisations bringing traditional sales thinking into customer experience transformation. Creating Customer Experience Test Centres where you bring customers (both consumer and enterprise) to review touchpoints, identify drop outs or poor experience and help you to design the ideal future. This signals to the organisation the important and focus you are placing on getting customers’ experiences right.
Embedding the brand ethos and promise, you can make it a comfortable place to bring customers and other stakeholders where they feel able to be honest and constructive about improvements they would like to see. Combine the comfort with analytic tools that can help redesign key experiences and to help test preferences to make the space as effective and efficient as possible.
Customer Experience mapping and process analytics is often done behind closed doors with internal project teams mapping experiences, identifying drop outs and re-engineering processes. Changes are then made to product, services and processes, expenditure incurred in IT, training, marketing and so on to support the changes then launched and measured to see if the desired effect on improving customer experience has been achieved.
Often these changes produce unintended consequences, creating, for example, challenges in the contact centre, delays in process flow and problems for the supply chain.
What better way to stop this unnecessary domino effect – and save your organisation time and money – than open up the process up to customers; who better to help you shape a truly customer-centric service for the future? But also, to other stakeholders – contact centre staff, for example, have a wealth of knowledge and feedback that may not make its way to the transformation team.
One example where this has been implemented effectively is with the Dutch retail bank ING that included its employees in the co-creation process of a low-end life insurance product. On the one hand they had identified a younger, harder to reach target audience.
On the other hand, they had a high churn of junior advisors whose lack of experience led to more of an admin role than a commission-based sales role. Leading on from a Customer Experience workshop, it became apparent that these advisors and the target customers for the life insurance product had a lot in common and their younger, more junior advisors were better placed to understand the need, desire, and demand of this younger target audience.
Taking this learning, the product sales process was evolved to be built around the junior advisors selling the product with the support of more senior staff. The results were startling – the revenues generated in the first two years were the highest in the life insurance division’s history and retention of their junior advisors improved significantly.
Going even broader, your supply chain can also be brought into the fold, helping to make the end to end process that makes up the experience you are designing more likely to be achievable.
Design thinking, with its roots in software UI and UX design, can provide some useful lessons and a deep understanding of the customer, defining the experience that will meet their needs, being creative in ideas to deliver the experience and then prototyping and testing those ideas is a much more agile approach than traditional process re-engineering.
Executing design thinking in a bespoke environment with all key stakeholders involved will ensure investment that is finally made in service improvements is tested and targeted to improve efficacy and return on investment.
Get real (time)
However, look to take Design Thinking one step further by adopting a much more real-time approach. A Customer Experience Test Centre with easy access for your customers or based on the Contact Centre floor allows you to analyse and solve experience issues as they happen. This ensures minimum frustration for customers and minimum cost to your organisation.
A great example of this is one UK-based financial service company that ensured that all front-line staff had 20 percent their time dedicated to service improvements. Staff had specialisms they focused on for improvements and built contacts and a support team within the business to allow them to direct improvements.
So, for example, if call volumes were increasing after communication to pension holders about a taxation change, the agent responsible for communications improvements would bring a team together to review the reasons for call volume increases, learn lessons and apply for communications in the future.
Visualise the experience
The final boost to your transformation programme is to get a lot more visual in the experience you are providing today and the experience you are aiming for as a result of your CX programme. This applies to the macro experience; creating a clear and understandable vision that makes sense across the organisation (and that can be communicated externally as an ambition as well as internally). It also applies to the micro; investing in digital tools that can help visualise processes that are easy to understand and easy for a range of stakeholders to contribute their valuable transformation ideas.
In today’s world where products can be sourced cheaper and promotions undercut by competitors at the touch of a button, Customer Experience is the one strand many organisations must focus on to keep their share of the market. Ensuring that you keep listening to your customers and involve them at every step of the journey will bring them closer to your brand, drive advocacy and ultimately help transform your brand for the future.