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How to improve Customer Experience

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The good news is: You already have a Customer Experience! Even if, like many, you don’t focus on it.

You have probably already observed how CX (short for Customer Experience) is not something you can just start on your own.

Sure, you can start to change your habits and mindset about how you do business, but if you’ve already tried the exercise, you soon realise you need your colleagues to discuss, confront, gain input or insights from.

I can’t say it enough: the purpose of your business, especially your job, is to collaborate with your co-workers to deliver solutions to help your customers in an easy and friendly way. 

That’s a fundamental statement of Customer-Centricity.

Moreover, you don’t develop a Customer Experience with just marketing strategy or sales, this approach impacts the whole company. It’s a big step, but you knew it was coming… Digital Transformation.

Yes, my friend, CX is one of the main keys to a proper and efficient digital transformation. Without CX, you’re just busy with digitalization, which is not sustainable.

Clearly we don’t know what’s going to happen in a few weeks, months, even years. This uncertainty is uncomfortable but manageable in organizations which take into account the most important factor: people.

Those who work, those who buy, those who like, those who sell, etc… all those we connect with and are in your ecosystem.

Let’s dive into my list of the 7 most important elements to start improving your Customer Experience…

1. Promote a Customer-Centric company culture

You know by now, CX is a mindset and needs to be rooted in your company culture to have a chance of working. Everyone in the company (or almost everyone) has a role or an impact on the Customer Experience.

It’s not a one week job, but it’s easier if it starts from the top – if your C-suite level is convinced and attaches the right priority to CX, it will facilitate stakeholders’ buy-in.

Don’t be discouraged if this isn’t the case yet; it’s coming and you can already promote CX practices as a manager by starting to use the methods and principles for your products or services. It’s less straightforward but, with determination, you can bring consistent customer service results that will definitely trigger your management. 

Here are some useful links to help you to explore further that option:

There are so many powerful CX examples out there already, it’s hard to remain in denial: Nike, Google, Lego, Emirates, Glossier, Apple, Disney, Netflix…

Successful companies are already Customer-Centric. CX is part of their DNA, OR they turned the ship around and made the bold move to investment in transforming their business by focusing on Customer Experience.

2. Make CX a real priority

Change is not easy, so it’s better to be in this together as a company, all convinced (or about to be) about the need to prioritize CX.

How do you do that?

  • Make clear statements from C-suite and integrate CX into the Global strategy. 

  • Assign execution of customer experience plans to one dedicated person. They could be VP of Customer Success, a Chief Customer Officer, or a Customer Success Manager, etc. They will communicate changes, facilitate operations, organize research analysis and perform any necessary actions to ensure your new approach to CX is consistent across all departments.

  • Assign tangible CX objectives to co-workers so their performance results depend on them! 

If there is no metric to measure the success of CX by, it quickly becomes a mess with a lot of changes for nothing. And if your co-workers’ objectives aren’t clear, don’t expect any big transformations…

3. Illustrate the Customer Journey

Once 1 & 2 are complete, start setting a game plan so everybody is looking in the same direction, with the same rules.

In most cases, it begins with the Customer Journey. 

(NB. as you are in the process of improving your Customer Experience, I assume your Customer or Persona has already been clearly set out as it’s a must-have for Customer Journey mapping)

The Customer Journey is an outline of every step your customers go through when they interact with your company. Way beyond simply purchasing the product, consider also social media engagements, online advertising, customer service cases, etc. Every step.

Check out the Customer Journey Mapping episode of my People&Digital podcast or read my dedicated article, plus get a free Guide to help you through each important phase and help you build your own map.

This mapping is not only useful for understanding Customer Interactions, but also makes it easier for employees across your organization to visualize the overall customer experience.

They can clearly see who is responsible for what, whilst increasing their understanding of the Customer’s needs.

They become Customer Experts and, thanks to this knowledge, gain increased high-level perspectives. They focus better on what’s important, improving their ability to take initiative, along with their reactivity.

4. Gather a multi-disciplinary team to work on Customer Experience

Since the customer journey is affected by every part of your business, it is imperative not to focus on only one department.

Forget about creating a department, you need perspectives on the Customer Journey. The perfect solution is a team of people with different pieces of knowledge and expertise; a team per project, per product, per service, depending on your business priorities and organization.

These teams have to focus on collaboration like never before as it’s a new paradigm. People (meaning customers & co-workers) are placed at the center of every concern.

Creating your Customer Journey will highlight the best profile you need in this team but usually, you’ll find these profiles:

  • Marketing: Your marketing team is probably already using CX methods in their strategies, such as loyalty programs and marketing automation, and will most likely be focused on customer acquisition. They will have the best insight into brand awareness and customer expectations. 

  • Sales: They are experts in Customer Relationships. They have information on the challenges customers are encountering on a daily basis and how they expect your product or service to address those roadblocks.

  • Customer Care: They are typically the first line of communication for feedback and frustration. The contact center hears honest feedback from customers on a daily basis and has a practical knowledge of processes, so welcome this perspective on what is causing the most problems for your customers and the touchpoint providing the most upset during their customer service experience.

This might be your core team, but you also need to assign other stakeholders tasks as they will also impact these teams, including: finance, legal, regulators, operations, IT/technical support, studio, field, etc… Everybody is affected.

5. Spread the data and create knowledge

CX is pretty new for most people so don’t expect change if people are not informed or trained.

Your core team is defined and will soon become experts. It’s important they are proactive in sharing their routines, giving other stakeholders access to their findings to get the entire company on board with your new customer experience plan.

Keeping all C-workers in the loop regarding research conclusions will help the different teams to streamline and optimize daily internal processes, such as customer routing, workflow automation, improving your product or service, increase upsell opportunities, etc. But the first priority should be to train people. 

Training should be solid with specific courses and certification, not quick workshops where an expert with slides expects people to be onboarding practices in a few days that it took them years to grasp. Also, there should be on-the-job coaching where an expert can guide people through specific, tangible problems.

During the transformation people may need support or education on CX methods, collaboration methods, self-development to help them cope with these changes and find their new potential, and motivation.

Make sure any new recruits have the necessary skills to handle your transformation, too. Ensure they understand your company’s mission, values and commitment to creating a seamless, outstanding customer experience.

As I said, each co-worker has the power to impact the experience—and they need to be educated about it, and empowered to improve it. This investment can lead to a real ROI and a valuable competitive advantage when it comes to great customer experience.

6. Give Customer feedback real weight in the discussions and decisions

You will do a lot of research and collect a lot of data. Infinite Excel sheets or fancy dashboards to prove your initiatives work well. Especially for online initiatives – it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You are probably already doing this, but do you use it?

There is a lot of varying customer feedback: through customer care, through their online account activity, on the website or the app, on the social network, in the shops… Make sure you collect relevant data in-line with the customer journey objectives and use it. 

Draw hypotheses, discuss them and take decisions based on your conclusions and findings.

Sometimes customers will ask repeatedly – insistently – for what they think is a basic feature but is a nightmare to develop on your side, because of regulatory or tech complexity. Don’t ignore that request because of internal or external complexities. If it’s a priority for your Customer, it should be for you, too. It’s not making regulatory or tech less important, it just makes the customer the center of the discussion.

Together with all impacted stakeholders, you can find the best solution that benefits the customer and improves the customer relationship.

7. Learn from the churn

Often, when we talk about churn it’s one percentage from a period of time, and the objective is to decrease it.

Let’s be honest – acquisition strategies are much easier than retention strategies. 

But when you work on your Customer Experience, you work on your relationship with customers. From the first contact with a potential new customer until (hopefully) they become a happy, loyal returning client who becomes your best customer 🙂

Reaching this level of customer loyalty, and brand loyalty, is not an overnight process so you need to understand why people churn. Does it start with low customer engagement? Or maybe after Customer Care contact? 

What are the last behaviors before customers cancel their account? Look at customer data, how they were interacting, and examine the customer feedback.

Even for customers you are unable to prevent from churning, be sure to find out why they decide to move on. Go the extra mile to listen to the voice of the customer in these scenarios to find out which user experience touchpoints may be problematic.

Provide multiple channels for customers to connect with you and leave feedback. Take their opinions seriously. If you are focused on creating a better customer experience, you should be able to pinpoint where your company fell short or went wrong. 

Involve eg. the call center, customer relations and customer retention teams, to get their take on where customer experience strategy improvements could be made. These additional insights from their interactions with customers, should give you a better idea of what customers expect and how to answer these calls in your customer experience transformation.

This should provide you with ample information from which to make actionable, data-driven decisions which proactively improve your customer journey and the overall digital customer experience. You have a chance to increase their Customer lifetime value!

Oh and… please… make it easy for the customer to cancel their account or contact you, but leverage your success team to find out exactly why they decided to cancel. 

Transparency is super important; hiding things from your customers has never been an efficient way to lower churn. This time it’s the customer you want to help…

Voila! Use these tips to create a memorable, frictionless experience for your customer that avoids any frustration and provides good solutions. I hope you find them useful and look forward to hearing how you get on with using them in your company or your project!

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Amélie Beerens

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