Think about it, Customer Experience (CX) is not new to the industry. All of us understand the importance of putting customer at the center of everything that we do. We have created processes that enable us to meet the expectations of the customers.
So, what has really changed? Here are 3 questions that most leaders ask, to justify the need for a ‘Real’ Customer Experience Program
- Why should my organization drive Customer Experience (CX) as a new initiative?
- How would it be any different?
- Where do I start, if I want to drive Customer Experience (CX) in my organization?
We shall answer questions 1 & 2 in this article and 3 will be for next.
Why should my organization drive Customer Experience (CX) as a new initiative?
Growing complexity of Channels and Product Lines
No one would disagree that new channels of communication have been opened up with customers in the recent past, such as mobile app, chat facility, etc. Similarly, all of us have launched far more new products and services in the last decade than we did in the past. All these add to the complexity of operations and have direct impact on customer experience. Complexity can only be addressed through simplicity and that is what a genuine Customer Experience (CX) program does.
Dealing with the aspirations of millennial
The GenY buyers, users or influencers, live a life of aspirations. It is important for us to acknowledge this, and support their life style. Out then, most organizations relied on two pilliars to achieve customer centricity – Standardization and doing it, first time right. But the expectations of the millennial include factors drawn from a different paradigm such as casual way to communicate, simplicity, digital convenience, independence & privacy, strong brand association, environment friendliness, etc. Without integrating these aspects, no customer centricity initiative of yesteryears can ever make a marked difference in market.
New boundaries for contentment
Why talk of millennials, the baby boomers want to re-live their life. That means the traditional boundaries of value addition for our product or services have been pushed further. This also means, the role of building the brand doesn’t stick to the corner office of CEO and the marketing, but every function needs to get involved in creating fulfilling experience for the customer. Without finding new ways of organizing the functions, organizations cannot bring about the change required. For example, SCM improving the product delivery turn around time (TAT), is no more an achievement, unless the overall experience associated with product delivery isn’t improved by involving all the functions.
Move beyond professional etiquette
Many service organizations assume that Customer Experience is all about being nice to the customers, responding back promptly, treating them well, etc., Yes, professional etiquette is a per-requisite for good Customer Experience but to assume that you have done enough just because your staff are polite to customers is a long shot.
How is today’s Customer Experience program different?
Here are the 5 key ways a ‘real’ Customer Experience Program differentiates itself from yester-years’ Customer Centricity initiative.
Mindful Vs Heartful
Traditionally our products and services were built to meet the customer requirements. We did look at customer pain points and address them. But the focus was mainly on the utility and the value provided during usage of product/service. Take the example of an electric razor. It is designed to give a close shave, shave faster, have a long life, convenient design, etc. But a good Customer Experience Program looks at the holistic journey of the customer and all the associated episodes. For example, convenience in buying, learning to use, using, cleaning, storing, carrying, finding spares, complaining, claiming warranty, discarding, re-selling/upgrading, etc. Many of these are interactions that the customers might not have just with your product, but with your people, your technology and in fact with factors that your don’t control, such as social media. Such dimensions can only be designed and handled by beyond a ‘skin deep’ program. Employees need to empathize with the customers to improve the Customer Experience. Unfortunately traditional approaches are driven by mindful employee engagement in which, one could go through the entire cycle without empathizing with the customers. The new age Customer Experience program needs to be ‘Heartful’
When a customer is unhappy, we try to find reasons to justify – “Oh! he is old and might not know how to sign-up”, “Oh! he is always busy, he won’t have time for this”. So, we accept the notion that we have a perfect product but our customers aren’t the perfect ones for it. That is traditional mindset. With new age Customer Experience, right from product design to enablment, to communication, we recognize that customers have different persona and we can’t hold the notion of one size fits all. We can’t also . Instead, we build products, process and train our people to recognize the unique needs of different Customer Personas and accommodate that in our systems.
Balancing Emotional & Functional Value
All standard product development processes, such as stage-gates, NPD frameworks, etc are designed to systematically maximize functional value for customers. Yet as customers, all of us willingly compromise some functional value in return for some emotional value. As customers, we don’t expect our service providers to be ‘dude-perfect’. For example, we are ok if the seats aren’t cozy in a movie hall, as long as we relish the thrilling experience of the movie with our family. Good Customer Experience programs are not about being perfect, instead its about playing the balancing act of delivering Functional & Emotional Value to the customers, systematically.
Mindset of Experimentation
Traditional mindset is that of perfectionism. Well that hardly works. If you take the deployment of any software tool in your organization, for ex, ERP or CRM, we all know that it was never right the first time when we launched. We went through phases of enhancements before we brought it to a desired level, and all this happens post deployment. The same applies for Customer Experience too. A truly customer centric organization would iterate its products, services & processes, imbibe a quest to learn by experimentation and a genuine willingness to apply that learning to improve the life of customers.
Hand over control to employees & customers
Most of the best-in-class organizations, do have a strong process-centric mindset. That’s good. Ouch..That was good! When we have to provide consistent service to our customers, the best way to do that was by standardizing the process. In order to do that, a strong control and governance framework was needed and most of our organizations established that. But, organizations have now outgrown that era and so has the necessity. Truly Customer Centric organizations now move the control from the management to employees, and from the employees to customers! They are finding ways to empower their employees (so they enhance customer experience) and customers (who can serve themselves).