Doing the right thing – Customer Experience Management

Wednesday 17th, August 2016

happy customers photoIt was a terribly harsh winter that year. A woman was worried about her 89 year old father who was snowed-in in Pennsylvania without access to food. And she called several stores without any luck until she talked to someone at Trader Joe’s.

Now he told her that they normally did not deliver … but…they would make an exception this time! He took her order, suggested some other items that would fit his low in sodium diet, told her that there was no charge for the items and wished her a Merry Christmas. In less than 30 mins, the food was at the man’s doorstep – for free!

Through a simple act, Trader Joe’s showed that great customer experience is all about doing the right thing!

Customer Experience – something that everyone talks about – a key differentiator that can make or break a business. It has been defined as the customers’ perception of his or her relationship with your brand – a result of all their interactions with your brand.

A customer-focused brand will seek to engineer and react to each of a customer’s interactions with an aim to meet his expectations or better it. This will increase satisfaction on the customer’s part which will lead to loyalty and then advocacy. It is about knowing a customer so well – not just about what he buys or where he buys it from – that a brand can offer a totally personalized experience for hum – an experience that he would love! And how do you know a customer? You collect all the data from all the many touchpoints that he uses, and derive meaningful insights from this. This is customer experience management in a nutshell.

Great customer experience management has many advantages –

  • You can create a loyal customer
  • Strengthen his preference for your brand
  • A loyal customer also advocates your brand to others
  • You get new customers based on that
  • Sales increase from existing and new customers
  • You prevent churn

But this is easier said than done.  The main reason is that it is difficult to maintain the same consistent experience across channels – there are so many channels and today’s evolved customer expects the same experience regardless of the touchpoint that he uses. Customers might be willing to accept varying service levels from various channels – but they expect a consistent brand value proposition across channels. This might not be easy – thanks to the old legacy systems and processes that have to keep up with the new demands – but are not quite able to.

At the center of great Customer experience management is the ability of a business to have a single view of each of its customers. Data is collected and consolidated from all touchpoints – every single interaction across channels, products and time frames is tracked and collected together to be sifted and analyzed. This is also not something easy to achieve. The data may be fragmented. Departments may function as independent units. It could be anything that can prevent getting a single view of a customer. And unless this is done, you can’t really know each customer. And unless you really know a customer, you cannot give him a great personalized customer experience.

Sometimes it may not have anything to do with touchpoints – the problem might be a part of the process itself. A new customer who buys a washing machine and waits for it to be installed may face any amount of glitches that have nothing to do with the store front, or the phone executive or the technician. Maybe the process itself is convoluted and frustrating to someone who is new to the business!

And to set all this right is a daunting task – it could involve a complete revamp of the culture, the mind set and processes of an organization.  And this could take years! But the exercise is completely worth the effort – as the rewards that will be reaped are great!

 

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