By Kirsten Torchalski, National Marketing Manager, Envision Business Consulting
We know focusing on customer experience is a noble endeavor, but where do you start? At our recent Customer Experience Leadership Roundtable, 15 leaders from different industries discussed challenges and solutions to improving customer experience (CX) at their organizations. In this article we share four major themes that emerged, and how you can tactfully apply them at your own organization.
Idea #1: Get the budget you need
How do you make the case for a CX budget? Our instinct is to prove how much revenue the company would make if customers were happier. The truth is that many factors beyond experience impact customers’ purchases, so using revenue as your primary metric will inevitably box you in and make it harder to get financial investment.
Free yourself from the mindset that your metrics must be solely revenue-related. Other measures that demonstrate the value and need for CX investment include:
- Customer data such as attrition, repeat purchases, and Net Promotor Score. “Put the customer in the room when you’re having discussions with leadership,” shared Danyel Lagow, Customer Experience Practice Director at Strong-Bridge Consulting. “Have an easy way to demonstrate how many customers leave you and join you on a monthly basis.” This is powerful, especially if you articulate the reasons why they left.
- Behavioral metrics and their associated cost. Know not only what customers are saying, but how they are using your brand. One participant shared: “For years we had been losing business to competitors who were easier to do business with. We needed a digital transformation with our tools to stay competitive. We kept talking about sentiment – our customers don’t like these tools – and got nowhere. So we changed the argument to descriptive behaviors.” How many calls to tech support were made? How many customers deserted the process and at what stage? “It was behavior, not sentiment, that changed the conversation for us.”
- Employee productivity metrics. Inefficient processes not only lead to poor CX, they also waste your employees’ time and therefore company money. Did it take multiple phone calls to resolve an issue? Is outdated technology sucking up customer and employee time? One discussion participant installed computer software that required employees to report what they were working on at set increments of time, revealing inefficiencies in the customer buying process that gained the CFO’s attention – and investment.
The bottom line: ROI can be shown not only with increased revenue, but also with decreased cost. Better Customer Experience achieves both.
Idea #2: Build a journey map
People take the path of least resistance; if it’s easier to do business with a competitor, that’s where your customers will go. Mapping your customers’ end-to-end interaction points with your company is the best way to understand how your customers experience your brand.
This collaborative exercise involves getting a cross-functional team into one room and physically mapping out the customer journey, step-by-step. It is critical to have representation from every department, including HR (we’ll get into employee experience later), and from varying levels. Not only does this exercise create understanding of the end-to-end customer experience, it gets teams to see the need to work together to create a connected experience.
We recommend using physical artifacts to make the customer experience come alive. Print out quotes, customer communications, emails, invoices, etc. and stick them to the wall! You may be surprised to see you are over-communicating in one place and leaving gaps elsewhere.
Success story: Having completed the journey mapping exercise, one leader at our roundtable uncovered she had two top customer segments, each with their own journey. One segment spent more time in the research phase, while the other moved quickly to purchase. This insight enabled her team to be exceptionally focused in refashioning their marketing and communications strategies.
Idea #3: (Re-)clarify roles
One of the roundtable participants put this perfectly: “Clarity breeds execution.”
CX should not have just one owner – everyone plays a role. Taking the time to define which roles are responsible for which parts of the customer journey sets people and processes up for success. When a customer calls with a complaint, who is responsible for calling them back? Who follows up to ensure the issue really was resolved? Role clarity is a tactical, easy win to improve customer satisfaction.
Consider also having employees shadow customer interactions such as site visits and phone calls. This creates the empathy and understanding your employees need to live into a customer-first culture. One roundtable participant shared his company’s philosophy of “team selling”, where every employee is considered a salesperson because they all impact the customer experience. “Down to the delivery guy, every person knows what’s expected of them.”
Setting expectations with employees is the key to success here. If you want to hold them accountable for CX metrics or spend designated time interacting with customers, bake these expectations into their development plan or performance goals.
Idea #4: Check your employee experience
There is a deep connection between employee and customer experience. Employees who are excited about their company will inherently want customers to feel that same passion. On the other hand, frustrated employees respond cynically to a company-wide focus on customer experience when they feel their own needs aren’t being met.
Just as you mapped customer experience, you can also map the employee experience. Start with the job search, and map all the way through interactions they have with other teams and customers. This uncovers opportunities to better educate employees about the customer through storytelling and to feel more plugged into the company’s work output.
One leader at our roundtable uses employee experience mapping to generate empathy and problem-solving across teams: “We do employee experience by division, then share it with other divisions. We’ll bring someone from ops into the sales team, and they realize each other’s pain points and fix them.”
Choosing any of these four ideas to start will set you in the right direction of building a more CX-focused culture. Please do share with us if you try these – or if you have something else that worked for you!