Customer Experience-Can it be Directed from the Social Media Side (Silo) of the Business?


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No more than it can be completely directed by a marketing or PR professional. So, who should be the Director of Customer Experience? Let’s start off by examining what makes up customer experience, then it will be easy to see what skills are going to be required.

There must be a gene floating around the pool that really, really believes this stuff. Fear not, however, as there is therapy for it; although you won’t like the results. Which are – it’s going to take more than 6 months of tweeting to gain the experience you need to deliver the experience your customers expect.

There is nothing new about providing great customer experience. Effective businesses have been doing this since businesses began. There is no rule that says we have to buy something from somebody (in the private sector). Therefore, while you may have an edge early on because of an innovative product or service, that lead gradually fades away as your competition matches your features and begins differentiating themselves through customer experience (ok, or price to a point). So, in what ways can this experience really take shape? …psst, I was only kidding up there.

The use of your product/service is unique and desirable

  • Perceived or Real Value – it does what no other product or service can do to make your job easier, right now. You need what ever it does, but never really realized it until now, and neither has the competition.
  • Co-creation to extend value – If you can provide the power and control for an end user to extend your product so it is even more valuable to the end user, it will be more valuable to you because a) they’re sticking around and b) they’re sharing it with all their like-minded friends – who will probably do the same. That’s just one way of looking at this, but my favorite way. Deliver value to your customers in a way that delivers it back to you. Hmm, I’ve heard that somewhere before. Oh yea, Dick Lee‘s definition of CRM!
  • Frictionless consumption of value – It’s value is inversely proportional to it’s PITA factor. This metric is secret so I can’t share it with you. Trust me, it’s true though.
  • Designed from the customers viewpoint – What does your customer do all day? How does your product or service fit in? Does it get in the way? Does it fill a gaping void they previously had to hurdle? If you built something just because you think it’s cool, your customer has to fit it into an already busy day because it’s not really solving a problem. Example: Pet Rock, Mood Rings, activity feeds. I guess my point is “what does this have to do with listening on social media?” Customers aren’t out there telling you how to innovate, they’re focusing you back on your product because that’s all the want to say to you. Why would they tell you anything else?

The acquisition of your product/service is unique and desirable

  • Frictionless process – Again, why would you want to make it difficult. I think no matter what your experience, you can agree on this. So, why do so many companies make it so difficult to do business with them? The answer is Silos and a focus on their product, but I’ve chirped about that before.
  • Designed from the customers viewpoint – It doesn’t just jump out at you as you stand in front of the cash register. It requires a lot more work than that, and is a discipline in and of itself. Social media experience would have a very limited role in designing a real world / brick and mortar experience – although it starts making some sense in a purely online world (maybe). And I’m talking pure B2C here.

The support of your product/service meets or exceeds the actual expectations of the customer – where most customers never expect the competition to even meet their expectations

  • Frictionless process – I’m sorry for harping on this, but process really does have a lot to do with customer experience, and if you’ve designed it to satisfy internal fiefdoms and silos, your customer’s experience will rank high on the PITA scale. Imagine making your customer wait longer than necessary because of some convoluted internal process. How about taking 10 minutes of their time, only to have them call another number to continue the process – and the person at the end of that number has no idea why they’re calling. If you can just fix bad process and align the new process to your customer, you will have made great strides in improving customer experience. Can social media people do this? No, sometimes you just have to go see it, grab it and fix it and last time I checked, social media was not on the resumes any process experts I know. One other thing, customers change for a variety of reasons, so be ready to adapt!
  • One face – Banks started doing this (on the surface) decades ago. Ever heard of Relationship Bankers? Or, do you have a Private Banker or Personal Banker? These were you single point of contact, regardless of which banking activity you needed to perform. They moved money around, handled investment transactions, helped you refinance your mortgage, etc. How cool would it be if other companies you do business with figured that out? I’ll admit, your banking relationship is a bit more personal than most, but I think you get my point. Aligning a single point of contact, or a team, around customer (segment) makes a ton of sense. They can get the entire job done for you and you don’t have to figure out who to talk to for any particular issue or transaction.
  • One touch –My attempt to nuance “One Face” so you’d think I was a really deep thinker. Seriously, regardless of what you need done, the first person you call gets it done.
  • Designed from the customers viewpoint – Back to process and my inside-out need to have a 4th bullet, and to reiterate a point that I think gets overlooked due to nuance. Outside of designing and manufacturing innovative products, it really comes down to execution in the front office. Want to be different? Want to be efficient? Get rid of Sally’s need to review every transaction. Command and control is not scalable. Can something you’ve done manually for 30 years be automated to provide immediate results to your customer (like a credit check)? Believe it or not, you don’t need to listen to your customer to figure this out. It’s a cultural problem. You may need someone like me to help shake you up and fix it! It’s common sense most of the time, and often ignored out of short term convenience and political expediency.

This all sounds simple, and there are many out there that can nuance the heck out of this conversation and make it more complicated than it needs to be. But, the bottom line is that customer experience really starts with common sense, then moves to understanding the needs of your customer – and voice of the customer isn’t even close to providing the knowledge necessary to understand them. If you read anything from successful customer experience consultants you’ll see a consistent thread or two…

  • Understanding the jobs people do is the competitive advantage you seek and applies to so man things
  • You can’t understand the job by simply listening to mentions of your product, because focusing on your product will never result in innovate design ideas, or innovate experience ideas. It’s the jobs, stupid!

Sometimes, (all the time) you just have to go see for yourself. Sure, there are people coming out of verticals that have the experience, along with an ability to see the bigger picture, that come up with innovative products and experiences. For the rest, it requires a framework for going out and figuring all of this out. It also requires common sense. And while it doesn’t hurt to listen, it requires far more than that to really understand. As inside out as this sounds, it’s up to you to get the information you need now, not wait for it to come to you through some feed-based mechanism on the Internet (1.0, 2.0 or 3.0). Sure, we don’t even know what we’re looking for yet. But, that’s why there are frameworks, methodologies and techniques for implementing the process. Notice that I did not say channels. Channels are what we use to support the implementation of the process, they are not the methodology or framework.

In closing, does a Director of Customer Experience need to know how to do all of this? Of course not. Most people will never have that range of experience (from product design to customer facing). But, they certainly need to understand these components of customer experience in order to advocate for and manage these coordinated efforts. You need the respect and authority to bring a diverse set of minds together on a single mission; a mission with functional firewalls and silos blocking the way. It doesn’t come from tweeting, blogging, webinars, e-book writing, press releases or search engine optimization. It’s not even about online communities. It’s about your business delivering value to your customer, not delivering your product or service to your customer through a channel…and doing it like very few others are able to do it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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