Brands that nail it when it comes to extraordinary omnichannel customer experience are two steps ahead of their competitors.
What do my customers really want? Any experienced C-level executive is trying to figure out this puzzle over and over again and there is a good reason for that. The times have changed, and worlds top brands figured that they are in a customer experience race. They understand that the way they deliver their product or service is starting to be just as import as a product or service itself.
This guide will help you understand the basis of a brand-customer synergy and will let you explore the steps to renovate your company in a customer-centric way and receive great results.
Let’s start with a quick summary of how to improve the customer experience
Heavily equipped with analytical dashboards, C-Suites get reports and make constant adjustments to build great customer loyalty, increase cash flow by 8-10%, and decrease operational cost by a quarter in 2 years. Nerves made out of steel as well as patience are necessary to put yourself in your customer shoes and modernize the departments so they start producing customer-centric value.
This exercise starts with moving your business to the side and putting your customer at the center.
Step 1. Inspect
Start from getting a clear picture of a complete experience your customers have with your brand from their viewpoint. The frustration that brands get at this stage is a result of creating these long bug lists of every single touchpoint they are trying to fix (like check-out process, customer onboarding, social media engagement etc.) that produce next-to-zero results. They forget that a customer’s journey is end-to-end in nature, meaning it has a defined entrance and exit points) and there is actually a lot fewer of those than of touchpoints (McKinsey’s reports indicate 7-11 customer journeys at any given industry).
Let’s look at four different service industries – Electric Utilities, Health Insurance, Cable TV and Hotels and focus on two business outcomes:
- Customer satisfaction
- Willingness to recommend
First, let’s regress customer satisfaction against the overall satisfaction outcome. Then regress the journeys themselves against the overall satisfaction outcomes. Journeys are far better predictors of business outcomes.
This might sound like a nightmare, but imagine that your business might has thousands of touchpoints. In this case, having the ability to see those touchpoints organize themselves into journeys and getting the ability to determine the journey that matters most, can create an enormous amount of focus and the ability to drive real change.
Even if every single employee will perform perfectly on single-touchpoint interactions, the complete customer experience may still be baffled.
McKinsey’s research indicates that journeys are considerably better tied in to the “Willingness to recommend” than touchpoints – showing 74% better results in health insurance than touchpoints. Similar results are found in the Hospitality industry showing that 65% more customers will recommend the hotel if the whole journey is successful.
Analyze what matters
Customers demand excellence when it comes to quality, performance, and cost of the product. So how do you know which of those points is the most demanded? Which one will equate to more financial interest?
Most businesses have several customer journeys, which should be analyzed by customer segments to help keep focus and bring in positive customer satisfaction results. Analytical tools and data sources coming from different departments (finance and operations) is necessary to start the reconstruction according to the elements that drive the economic value. For example, an Airport study showed that travelers are less bothered by waiting in lines than by rude security officers.
Specify customers aspiration
In big, multi-unit companies, an extraordinary customer experience is all about how teams understand that their main determination is to serve their customers. This is best done when the determination is made absolutely clear to every single employee via a vision. This vision should be aligned with a brand’s value proposition and clearly define a set of simple standards that lead the behavior up to the front line.
Step in your customer’s shoes
The customer journey is a backbone. It gives a brand an opportunity to organize its employees to constantly delivery value to its customers, while still being in line with profitability. Building the customer journey helps coordinate the staff with the customer requirements. Let’s take an airport as an example.
If you try to create a great experience in an airport it will take a lot just to agree as a group of leaders and stakeholders to the fact that experience actually matters.
For example, transform a regular airport into a space that people would want to spend time. As you turn that corner and then start building the facts who airports customers are, then you’re going to get to the first level of thing that you can do to make a better journey. We can take a very basic idea for instance. Everybody is getting really lost when getting to a new airport and if we could work on wayfinding, like installing multi-language signs it would make a better day for first-time visitors.
Step 2.Reconstruct the business to the customer needs
Leading customer experience companies start with justifying and focusing on improving the main customer journey first. It can be anything depending on the industry the business is in i.e. – opening a credit line, returning a smartphone or something as basic as updating your personal information for subscription businesses. Their next step is analyzing every single touchpoint a customer makes in this journey and try to improve each of it with a customer attitude in mind.
Add behavioral science to the interactions
Rapid sculpturing of customer observations can produce some additional value. A common tool between world-leading brands is to apply behavioral psychology during the journey design course. Some common examples of it are structuring the sequence of customer communication so it ends on a pleasant note or combing the neighboring stages so they are perceived shorter in time and effort and provoke a feeling of a movement. Some of these stages may contain options, that doesn’t matter to the brand that much but can give a sense of control to a customer.
If you’re dealing with the group of customers that are accustomed to Amazon or Google service, they will expect the same from any established company. A 2015 research by Thunderhead and Populus indicated a single bad experience will scare 25% of the customers. Here’s the infographic:
Digitalization can help any company build better journeys, by allowing diverse teams rapidly prototype, test, analyze, refine and rerelease the high-value customer-facing processes. According to the Watermark Consult’s study, digital companies overtook their competitors by a 35% margin.
Step 3. Act. Align the organization to produce real results
As you start seeing that customer experience gets more attention in a corporate strategy, the C-suites will take a leap into transforming their companies and will instantly struggle in structuring the organization and understanding the starting point. There is just one solution to this struggle – measuring everything your customers are saying, giving voice to the frontline staff, so their thoughts could be heard and reforming the organization into a customer-first. The moment you start seeing the economic value of this will give you the confidence to push the continuous innovation further.
Perfect your frontlines
I’ve already done an article on Customer Service vs Customer Experience where I praised the Nordstroms frontline staff. They achieve this by motivating the employees to represent their vision while interacting with customers. Nordstroms management engages these staff members by working side-by-side with them in-store and during them taking the calls.
Revolutionize the experience
Switching to a customer-centric model that intersects multiple functions, might be a real pain, even for companies that get together nicely. A thorough leadership is always a must. World’s leading companies use CCO’s for this role (Chief Customer Officer) and permanent teams to back them up in their daily work.
Highlight Early wins to demonstrate the working concept
The biggest stepping stone for most the customer experience transformation is the fact the CCO’s can’t display the value their teams create and while adding certain cost to their existence, they are showing non-certain short-term results. CX transformations require patience and self-control, but the result will create those highly-necessary short-term wins that will secure the future if further innovation.