I have to admit this seems like an extreme title for my first blog post! I can assure you though it is not a desperate plea for you to hire me, nor is it a threat that I will find you if you don’t! It is however a topic that seems to be quite prevalent across all sectors at the moment when I speak to senior leaders about customer experience. Whether it is transforming the digital experience of a global bank, or changing the patient experience of a healthcare provider, everyone seems to be finally waking up to the need to deliver a fantastic experience or they will be replaced by someone who can!
This is great news, but before we crack open the bubbly and go looking for something else to focus on, there is a long way to go before the acknowledgement of the importance of customer experience turns into a reality, and then even further before it turns into a way of life in the culture of businesses. 95% of senior business leaders accept that customer experience is one of the top 3 priorities for their companies, yet only 37% of companies have an active strategy to improve it? With customer experience expected to be the key diffentiator over product and price by 2020, enterprises are realising that they need to be leading the pack in their sector around the customer experience, otherwise a competitor or start up that appreciates this aspect will step in and replace them. So why the lack of investment in the CX strategy then?
Well with competition for budget spend across all other department initiatives it is often a casualty in the budget process. So how do you get the customer experience programme to be at the top of the agenda and prove its ROI against other initiatives and projects? The ROI of these initiatives has previously been quite difficult to prove vs the more tangible business cases that are built on years of experience (Although frequently don’t deliver the benefits!) So how do you convince people your initiatives are more important than the ones already on the table?
Fortunately there is now a lot more information for you to use from those who have embraced the importance of the customer experience, and facts are available around how they have seen a commercial gain alongside improved customer satisfaction. I have pulled together “The Distinguished Dozen” for you to get started with. If you are still looking for further help after this I have loads more in the store cupboard to help you with!
On top of this though what are the key hygiene factors that need to be present for you to be successful with your customer programme?
In order for your company to deliver consistently superior experiences to customers it must be in the lifeblood of the company. From induction training to departmental leaders, through empowerment and ownership of the customer at all levels, whilst analysing data and insights to enhance a continuous improvement programme. The investment needs to be there in the employee experience for it to flow through into the customer experience. It is no surprise then that companies with highly engaged employees deliver a better customer experience. In fact, companies who deliver a superior customer experience have 2.5x more employees who are engaged than those who don’t hit the mark with their customers. And with 30% of all failed customer programmes being linked to a lack of employee engagement it is clear to see that you need to focus on engaging the workforce if you are to be successful in your new customer programme!
It is so important that a business preparing to go on a customer experience transition takes with them an approach that is prepared to change their processes and routine in order to reach their goals! 31% of failed CX programmes found in the post mortem that the business failed to modify key processes in the change initiatives, which contributed to its downfall. Managing change is not easy, and dependant on how mature the processes are it may be very difficult to change old habits. But stick with this and make sure enough time and importance is dedicated to customer journey mapping of all the business processes so that this important step is considered as part of the programme. The importance of bringing the people on this journey too cannot be under estimated. As the processes change it will affect people in different ways, so make sure to leave enough time to bring the hearts and minds along the journey with the systems and process changes.
Customers have moved on in their expectations as to how they will interact with the companies they use, and they expect you to be able to deliver! With the market leaders now offering integrated CRM and Omni-channel solutions, customers are getting a personalised hassle free experience that is linked between channels as they hop through transactions. They expect they will get this level of customer care with each interaction they have now so those who are lagging behind with investment in these areas are going to struggle! In the age of smartphone and tablet technology, 37% of transactions start from a mobile device but could end up being completed on any device. With 86% of customers using multiple channels to engage with the companies they use, the time for these channels to all be linked is more prevalent than ever! As Gen Y and Gen Z now start to grow the adult population who are digitally native, customers will expect nothing less than an integrated customer experience across all channels, that are easy to do business with from your company. With this in mind make sure your company has an appropriate technology roadmap to go with the CX programme, to enable you to deliver against these expectations.
The importance of customer experience should flow through the whole company as a cultural belief. This should start from the top and be replicated by all leaders in the business, so if the board and senior leaders are not engaged in this mind-set then you will be doomed from the outset. 29% of failed CX initiatives cited a lack of senior leaders support; therefore the most important place to start is at the C-Suite to get some powerful advocates behind your strategy. Pushing the agenda should become much easier once the senior team are behind your initiatives!
Is it worth the investment?
Well, whether you like it or not customer expectations are changing and becoming more demanding all the time! Customers will expect to be empowered to make decisions and use whatever channel is convenient for them at that moment in time, as well as the experience being consistent across all channels. With price and product becoming increasingly similar across most competitive markets, customer loyalty and retention will be gained by differentiating on the experience. Make it special, personalised and easy to do business and you will gain advocates, share of customer’s wallet and increased market share. Fail to evolve your proposition and roll the dice as to how long your customers stay with you before moving to your competitors.
Evolve or die, the decision of course is yours!