4 rules for targeting improved customer experience
Whether it's what your customer is saying about you or how they're saying it, it pays to listen. Customer experience is the currency in a transaction that leads to customer loyalty - investing in it produces lasting value" - Wynand Smit, CEO, Inovo, a leading contact centre business services provider.
Struggling to figure out how to improve on customer experience? CX is in your hands, but you, like many other companies, may not know where to start when it comes to driving improvements and ensuring that the customers you're in contact with every day stick around for more (and tell their friends about their positive experiences). It's an emerging area with many facets, but there are some basics you can examine to ensure that you have a good foundation for improved CX:
Using feedback tools at the end of calls or interactions will provide enormous insight into customer experiences. Whether they are in the form of post-call, USSD or e-mail surveys, or even in-store feedback linked to a specific employee, providing a simple and easy way for customers to offer their perspective can be used to identify problem areas and drive enhanced performance and CX.
Even unsolicited feedback that can be picked up through effective social media monitoring can help a business understand CX challenges and customer frustrations. Understanding and listening to your customers is the key to driving pro-active customer experience improvement strategies.
Businesses generate and accumulate vast amounts of data on customers - from basic information to more complex revelations about buying behaviour, preferences, brand sentiment, and even attitudes that could assist with segmentation or customer profiling. This data, once aggregated across all contact channels and business systems, can then be analysed and the insights used to help drive a more personalised and positive experience for customers. This could include improvements in processes to enhance service levels or to align with customer preferences, more relevant and targeted marketing campaigns, or even to help identify specific support problem areas. The applications are endless.
Adapting tactics, strategies and processes to align with an individual customer's specific needs and requirements is vital to increasing satisfaction and loyalty. Customers don't want to be treated in a generic way, and they expect you as a business to know who they are, what their preferences are, and adapt accordingly.
Consider the journey
Many customer frustrations are borne out of ineffective business processes. What makes sense for a business doesn't always make sense for the customer, which is why it's so important to track and document the customer journey and identify where inefficiencies can be addressed.
Smit, an industry specialist when it comes to personalising contact centre CX, agrees:
"Pain points, when identified, can become opportunities for improved processes and efficiency. They can slow your business down or be used as a stepping stone for enhanced ways of delivering on what your customer wants from your company. Check out every touch point along the way, and find out if there are ways you can improve what you're doing. For example, can you simplify processes by providing an automated solution so that the customer can simply select what they want from a menu, perhaps even avoiding the need to speak to an agent entirely. That would rid the customer journey of the frustration of being kept on hold on a voice call," he states.
Ultimately the customer journey needs to be as seamless as possible - irrespective of the contact channels used, or the internal actions required to fulfil a particular request or task. This must be invisible to the customer - the request, purchase, query etc. must simply be fulfilled in the most efficient way possible, and according to the customer's expectations.
The most effective companies practising CX state that it must live and breathe across the organisation, and that all employees must understand what it is and their role in delivering it. It's not merely a result; it must be part vision, part culture of the company to achieve its goals.
Incorporating CX as a goal does not translate to immediate success. It can take a long time to establish the vision, goals and culture that lead to improved CX. Performance must be evaluated to ensure consistent customer-centric behaviour is taking place, and then, finally, actual customer experience and employee outcomes must also be tracked and measured.
"Customer experience, as a relatively new field of expertise, is becoming a crucial focus for modern businesses. By focusing on these basic areas, you can set your organisation onto the path of achieving CX excellence," Smit concludes.