Tag Archives: customer experience

What Should Your Customer Experience Look Like & How Do You Get There?

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Recently, I’ve been sharing about customer expectations and while understanding those expectations is important, you also have to have a plan for how to meet those expectations.

I am referring to the customer experience, of course. The customer experience includes every touchpoint a customer has as they interact with a brand. Customer experience has always been important. But as the world grows increasingly digital, brands are tasked with understanding and mapping the multi-channel experience that customers go through with brands.

And there’s a reason companies spend time, money and effort on mapping and optimizing these experiences. In short: they matter. Forrester found that from 2011 to 2015, revenues for companies that scored near the top of the Forrester CX Index™ outgrew the group of companies that scored poorly by more than 5 to 1.

As brands become focused on the customer experience, they are turning to a new ally, who previously has not been involved in customer experience: the CIO.

The CIO & The Customer Experience

Historically, the CIO has had little to do with the customer experience. The business leaders like sales, marketing and business development would meet to map out the experience and then, they’d ask IT to build what they needed to create that experience. But times have changed.

In a recent KPMG Survey, more than half of the CIOs surveyed reported that enhancing the customer experience is the most important business issue that boards want IT to work on.

The fact is, the CIO needs to be involved with the customer experience these days. CIOs understand the technical limitations of new technologies as well as understand current in-house capabilities. Instead of the business guessing what is possible, IT needs to work with them to create solutions that are achievable.

What A Quality Customer Experience Looks Like?

The question is, of course, what does a quality customer experience look like? If we refer back to the emerging customer expectations that I discussed in this article, a few things become clear.

The first is that customers want a “contextual, intuitive and experiential engagement.” Another way to phrase this is to design a low-effort experience.

What’s a low effort experience? To answer that, let’s first look at a high effort experience.

A customer calls a customer service line. They have the option to wait on hold for an undetermined amount of time or to have the company call them back when it’s their turn. The customer chooses to wait on hold. They wait on hold for 17 minutes when a representative finally gets on the line, asking for the person’s information. The customer then waits another minute while the representative pulls up their information and asks what the problem is. The customer explains their issue. The representative provides a textbook response that doesn’t meet the customer’s needs. The customer asks for another resolution. The representative tells them they have to transfer them to a manager. The customer then waits another few minutes on hold. Once transferred, the manager again asks for the customer’s information and the customer again waits while the manager pulls up their file. The manager tries to provide the same answer the representative does but the customer asks for another resolution. After a few minutes of back and forth, the manager tells them they will try to find another solution and that they’ll email them with a solution within a few days after they have spoken to the appropriate department.

This may sound convoluted but it happens all of the time! I’m sure many of us have encountered similar experiences when dealing with customer service problems. Consider what the customer has to endure during this exchange: multiple wait times, hearing the same information repeated, resolution to be delivered in a different format than the initial exchange. In other words, it’s a high-effort experience for the customers. According to Gartner, 96% of customers who encounter this type of interaction will become disloyal to a company.

The trick to creating low-effort experiences is to lead with the benefits or solutions to customers’ problems over the technology.

For example, if your customers want faster issue resolution, then your organization should turn to real-time text or voice chatbot that is readily accessible for customers at scale.

If customers need more information prior to purchase, consider enhancing your mobile experience or incorporating augmented reality tools so customers can visualize products in their offices or homes.

If your customers want a more personalized experience, focusing on consumer data collection and organization will be your best priority.

There is no one size fits all to delivering exceptional customer experience. It’s about listening to your consumers, paying attention to their needs and then, creating services, incorporating technology and designing processes to fit those needs.

How To Get There?

To point you in the right direction of how to create exceptional customer experiences, I am going to end this article with a question:

How do you think employee experience shapes the customer experience?

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Where Is IT On Your Customer Journey Map?

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In today’s digital world, it’s imperative that organizations create and deliver world-class customer experiences. The Amazons and Zappos of the world have changed how customers want and expect to interact with organizations, especially online. Customers expect continual updates, easy to use self-service options, and streamlined processes, from start to finish.

This means organizations must research, understand and optimize every part of their customer’s journey. This process of documenting a customer’s journey was once thought to be a job for externally-facing departments, such as marketing or customer service.

But this siloed style of operations won’t work today. Today the modern C-suite must work together to create customer journey maps and, most importantly, IT must include themselves on those maps. The good news is that the door is wide open for CIOs to grab this opportunity.

What are Customer Journey Maps?

Before IT can make sure they’re properly included on customer journey maps, let’s address what we are referring to when we discuss these maps.

Customer journey maps are documents that help organizations visualize and understand how they attract and retain customers, and how customers interact with the organization. These documents depict each touchpoint a prospective customer may have with an organization. Touchpoints include interactions like a customer visiting their website, placing an order, contacting customer support, and leaving a review. Customer journey mapping provides a 360-degree view of a customer’s wants and needs.

Why are Customer Journey Maps important?

As I pointed out earlier, customers expect world-class experiences from every organization they interact with, no matter how large or small. According to Oracle’s Customer Experience Impact Report, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better experience with a brand. They expect a seamless purchase experience and if they don’t find it with your organization, they will quickly go find it somewhere else. The internet has limitless options for today’s consumers, so the best way to win is to provide a flawless experience.

Additionally, we live in an interconnected world, and a bad customer experience often doesn’t stop as soon as the person hits “cancel order.” Many customers will take to social media and review sites to broadcast about the experience, which could negatively impact future sales with other potential customers. According to Temkin, 30% of consumers tell the company after a bad experience. But 50% of those consumers tell their friends, and 15% of those consumers provide feedback online. It’s easy to see how a single bad customer experience doesn’t just impact one customer.

A customer journey map can also reduce the number of assumptions that your organization is likely making about your customers. It’s natural for certain biases to exist when it comes to how your audience interacts with your organization. It’s important to look at the data instead of trusting the beliefs or views of internal teams.

Why does IT need to play a role?

Perhaps a decade ago, it was unlikely that IT would have been a part of these customer journey mapping experiences. But today, IT has to be a part of the exercise because technology is a key component in delivering a seamless customer experience.

For example, one of the leading trends in customer experience is personalization. 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer a personalized experience. To create a personalized experience, like offering relevant product suggestions or targeted ads, requires the use of technology to track and store data about a consumer’s behavior. Even though this may sound like a marketing task, it will be IT that will be implementing the technology and managing the data. Therefore, IT must understand why this technology is necessary and have a role in how it should be implemented and leveraged.

What Should IT Do to Be Involved?

Creating a customer journey map is a collaborative project. The best first step any CIO can take to be a part of this project is to break down any silos or any competing goals that may exist with other departments. No single department can “own” the customer journey map. Either everyone is on board and in consensus or you have a flawed map.

The actual creation of the map requires both quantitative and qualitative data. Since CIOs and IT rarely directly interacts with consumers, they won’t have much qualitative data. However, they will have quantitative data found within the systems of engagement and systems of record. The CIO should deliver whatever data they may have about the customer experience, whether that is customer analytics or website data.

Finally, it’s important to remember the overall goal of this experience: it’s to delight the customer in every phase of their journey with you. IT can often hold preconceived notions of what’s the best technology or tool or they can have doubts over whether technology is necessary. These beliefs will only put up roadblocks in the process. Let the needs of the customer drive this process. As Steve Jobs once said back in 1995, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology — not the other way around.” For CIOs to succeed they must open their eyes to the journey the customer is on and then work to support it.

Customer journey mapping is an important exercise that every organization should do and IT shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to help shape the experience for the customer. By bringing the right data, clarifying the needs and understanding the wants, IT can deliver the technology that will enable fantastic customer experiences and support the company in their business goals.

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