by Darwin Castro –
“What time is the 3 O’ Clock parade?”
Why would anyone ask such a question? At theme parks, they make it their business to know why. They know that guests don’t ask this question out of ignorance, hence employees are trained to ask additional questions to uncover what it is that the guests really want. They then will offer helpful and proactive advice – they may share what time the parade will pass by certain locations in the park, or offer possible vantage points to view the parade, or advise when to leave another area and still arrive at the parade on time. (Jones, B – 2015 June 9 – How Would You Respond If Asked: ‘What Time Is The 3 O’clock Parade?’)
Their consumers are also your business customers. They are completely focused on Customer Experience (CX), and you and your organization should be too.
Gartner’s 2017 Customer Experience in Marketing Survey indicates 67% of companies feel they compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX, and 81% expect to do so in two years. Getting your brand’s CX right has become a business imperative.
What is Customer Experience (CX)?
Let’s do a quick exercise. Pick an organization – any one that you have had an interaction with and then ask yourself what you think of this organization. Are you a big fan and their biggest advocate, are you a detractor with plenty to complain about, or are you neutral – you’re neither a supporter nor detractor? Now think about why your answer is your answer – chances are it’s because of CX.
The Internet is awash with definitions of CX but at the heart of it, CX is the totality of all the interactions between your organization and your customers – from that time they come to know of and consider your products or services, decide to purchase or not to purchase your products or services, and everything that happens after.
In this Information Age, CX is a complex, multi-channel experience and includes traditional and non-traditional ways of interactions such as:
- Phone calls
- In-person meetings
- Visits to websites
- Exchanges via emails
- Use of mobile apps including Social Media
- Use of Business Application or Software Products
- Access to Ticket Systems and Help Desk
- Communications with Call Centers
- Watching videos on TV and video-sharing sites
- Reading Company-Provided Content (e.g. marketing collaterals, e-books)
What Can You Do to Improve CX in Your Organization?
Define Your Customer Personas
IBM Company Silverpop defines Customer or Buyer Personas as “Iconic representations of your ideal customer. They are research-based, grounded in data, facts and actual interviews with recent buyers (and may even include perspectives from people who deferred a purchase decision or purchased a competitive solution).”
Your Customer Personas will be your guideposts in creating your message to your customers – how you will solve their problems and help them meet their business’ desired outcome. Personas will also drive activities around re-designing your Customer Journey.
Identify the Current and Re-Design the Customer Journey
Customer journey is the full experience of being a customer. It encompasses all the steps customers go through as they engage with your organization. It starts from the point they become aware of your products and services – the first touchpoint, through their purchase and use of these products and services, and after. Touchpoints are important moments when customers interact with your organization.
To understand the current Customer Journey, map it out through diagrams. Different Customer Personas may share common journey maps or maybe totally divergent and will require separate journey maps. Utilize information from customer persona interviews and gather inputs from your employees.
Revisit and look for opportunities to improve every touchpoint in every channel in the customer journey. The goal is to create an experience that is consistent across all touchpoints and that meets or exceeds the standards you have set.
Example: Navigating a Solution Design Touchpoint in a Business Solution Implementation Engagement
Traditionally, companies who acquire a new business software have business users who automatically expect high levels of product customization to replicate their current way of doing things. Typically, implementation consultants or business analysts meet with business users to discuss how they do things and then go about documenting the requirements along the lines of data gathered in these meetings. This then reinforces, even more, the business users’ expectations that most everything will be the same once the product is rolled out (albeit with a possibly more modern look and feel), and often is what ends up happening.
This is one good example of a touchpoint that can be improved. No major shift in business can be achieved by doing things the same way. As one famous adage goes “If one is not getting better, one is getting worse.
An alternative approach to the traditional process described above is to start by identifying the customer’s desired outcome that is driving the need for the new product. Armed with this knowledge, engage and explain to customer business users how their process will change via adoption of product built-in industry best practice workflows, features, and functions, which will lead to the realization of the organization’s desired outcome.
Modify Your Organization
As the Customer Journey is re-designed, it follows that changes and improvements will require organization-wide implementation. Training will need to be undertaken, new mindsets adopted, and touchpoint channels updated (e.g. standardize branding across channels).
Some organizations create a permanent or temporary CX Lead position to drive the changes, others form a team from the current crop of employees. Organizations will need to decide which one suits them best, but it is key that an executive sponsor is identified to champion the cause and the implementation.
Know Your Limitations and Accept When It’s Time to Seek Outside Help
Consider a software provider whose suite of Business Solutions are cutting-edge and best-of-breed. For a long time, they have tried to do everything themselves – selling, developing and improving, implementing, and providing support and maintenance services. There is some success but there is more opportunity for growth that is yet to be realized.CX is a mixed bag – there are happy customers and there are not so happy customers.
Coming to terms with their inability to scale to meet market demands and grow the business led them to make the decision to partner with a System Integrator (SI). This allows them to focus on product development and leverage on the strength of an SI with a proven implementation track record and satisfied customers.
When it’s time to seek help, do not hesitate.
Why is CX Important?
CX is important because your competitor is most likely invested in it, and they will drive you out of business if you don’t start focusing attention on this now.
More importantly, customers put great value on superior CX offerings. They foster customer loyalty by improving customer satisfaction. Loyal customers bring repeat business as well as a new business by being your advocate and referrer to customers and non-customers alike. More repeat and new business means increased revenue and sales for you.
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