Last week I attended Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in Los Angeles, an event I highly recommend for both the content and subject matter. Particularly interesting were the stories and lessons from companies who have successfully executed on their customer experience initiatives — not an easy nor common feat, as many company leaders struggle to improve the customer experience. According to a Forrester survey, 47% of executives want to differentiate their company through better customer experience, but they don’t know how.
If you count yourself among those who see the importance of customer experience but don’t know where to begin, start below with my five key takeaways from Forrester’s event. Also, I’ve included two photos of slides (see above and below) that supplement these points.
1. Repairing broken experiences isn’t enough. Once you’ve performed an analysis of customer complaints, you should be able to easily identify where you’re going wrong and quickly correct the processes that are responsible for annoying your customers. However, once fixed, there’s no time for high-fives because you’ve only taken your customer service experience to “even.” You are now on par with competitors and with your customer’s expectations. You’ve stopped being awful, but there are no assurances that these processes won’t fall back into disrepair in time. In addition, you have done nothing to advance your organization to where it can use the customer experience as a competitive advantage.
2. Activate your culture to focus on customers. Eli Lilly Chief Customer Officer Tony Ezell, a guest speaker, said it best: “Use the mother standard. In other words, how would you treat this person if they were your mother?” Ezell further went on to explain how every employee must understand their purpose and how it relates to customers. Also, to unlock employee innovation, you must have the customer as your focus. “One voice” is how Ezell described it. He indicated this requires that you create a movement in your organization, promotes passion, belief, and consistency of thought. The movement can start with just one small team and grow from there.
3. Company strategy drives your CX strategy. When identifying your customer experience strategy, factor in your company’s brand promises. Then communicate them and deliver the value. Good customer experience strategies will first describe the intended experience. This description helps direct organizational processes and activities. Then, focus on the activities that are most important to your customers because these deliver the greatest value.
4. Make customer experiences memorable. This is especially important in a social media world responsible for driving today’s word-of-mouth advertising. According to Renee Cacchillo, Vice President of Service Delivery for Safelite AutoGlass, this requires a combination of trust, technical competence, and quality. The trust comes in the form of outstanding interpersonal skills, listening to customers’ pain points, and achieving extraordinary results by looking at every element of the business through the eyes of the customer. Safelite also proved that their “Put People First” strategy resulted in a doubling of revenue over a five-year period.
5. Be relentless in your pursuit. This sums it up. All of the guest speakers made this point either explicitly or implicitly through their passion for designing and implementing amazing customer experiences. Indeed, it’s an organizational challenge to get every member rowing together, but if it’s not in your top management’s DNA, don’t fret. You can still be passionate and relentless in your pursuit of CX. You can make a difference in the lives of the customers that you touch. Their feedback and your enthusiasm will ignite others to join in. Seize on the few things that make the most difference and don’t ever give up.
What about you? What do you find to be the biggest challenge when it comes to customer experience initiatives?