Customer Experience Management is Doing the Right Thing

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This article is 1st in a series describing 10 unique characteristics of customer experience relative to more well-known concepts such as customer satisfaction and retention.

customer careYou’ve seen the ads depicting crazy business policies that dampen customer experience and make customers cynical. I’m a big fan of free enterprise, but have to admit that self-serving practices have eroded trust and the joy of being a customer.

As each one of us is a customer ourselves, we should understand customer experience management like the back of our hand. Yet, somehow customer experience seems a bit mysterious, and certainly has myriad definitions. Ultimately, customers make paychecks possible, so businesses exist to serve a customer need that results in a profitable revenue stream. Customer experience management is a dedication to serving customer needs from their perspective.

While I can’t vouch for the advertiser of the above video actually practicing what they’re preaching, I’ll bet you as a customer would agree that customer experience management must have these 9 qualities in order to consistently win your heart and a share of your wallet:

  1. Perspective: customer experience is defined entirely by the customer, not the solution provider.
  2. Preventive: customer experience gravitates toward the easiest and nicest methods to get and use solutions that address customers’ needs.
  3. Duration: customer experience encompasses the point from which customers become aware they have a need until they say that need is extinct.
  4. Dynamic: customer experience evolves with  the customers’ context – the purpose and circumstances of their need, and overall experience reference points.
  5. Choice: customer experience is built on trust and mutual respect for variety; share of budget is more important than loyalty.
  6. Multi-faceted: customer experience is measured by functional and emotional (social and personal) judgments related to the customers’ expectations.
  7. Operational: customer experience is shaped by all the contributors to an organization’s processes, policies and culture, in addition to the physical product or service associated with the customer’s need.
  8. Integrative: customer experience is impacted by the degree of alignment among departments, technologies, channels, etc.
  9. Anticipatory: customer experience is ongoing, where the present and future are equally or more important than the past.
  10. Transparent: customer experience sees through the solution provider’s motives and intentions, and favors genuine sincerity for the customer’s well-being.

From your personal expertise as a customer, would you agree to these descriptors of how to properly serve your interests? The customer’s interests are the business’ interests for the most successful companies. Compare your company’s customer bill of rights – and your customer experience management programs – with this list to double-check its customer-centricity.

What a better world it would be if companies put customers first, following the golden rule to treat others as you’d like to be treated. By doing the right thing from the customer’s perspective, you’ll win their business … for sustainable revenue.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lynn I like your list but might add that the customer experience must be delivered in a genuine and transparent way. I’m not sure that most businesses have come to terms with the fact that they are what they do and what they deliver, not what they say they do and deliver. Truly opening up to the customer is a scary concept for most CEO’s. p.s. most still don’t open up fully to their employees !

  2. Lynn,
    Customer experience management is all the elements that you mention. It all starts with knowing who your customers are, so that every member of the team understands what the customers’ needs and motivations are. Then, comes the real courageous stuff – being willing to change processes, policies, and whatever it takes to serve the customers better. I’ve learned that making the experience easy and effortless for the customer usually implies taking on the complexity within the organization. Reward – customers actually want to do business with you. Ultimately, it’s all about the customer and today the customer has significantly more impact and voice than ever before through social media. The customer experience paradigm is shifting and those companies that have the courage to do the right thing will prevail.

  3. Hi Ray – transparency is indeed an important characteristic, and I’ll add it to the list. A current example of a company that is shockingly honest in its ads is Domino’s pizza (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH5R56jILag).

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  4. Hi Larisa – thanks for your thoughtful comment. You’re right that it all starts with knowing who your customers are, and then being willing to change. Interestingly, nearly every book that teaches how to manage customer satisfaction/experience suggests starting with what you want your brand to stand for, and then communicating that to customers. The path you suggest does require humility. My recent ebook, Innovating Superior Customer Experience suggests how to gain a unique view of your customers’ world so you can truly differentiate the customer experience.

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  5. Hi Lynn & Larisa I’ve been playing with a thought recently that we may be going “back to the future”. In his book The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley describes how we have been trading for 100000 years (we have only farmed for 10000 years). Is it possible that we are going back to trading based on reputation, transparency and mutual benefit ? Since the industrial revolution we have got used to being sold TO and marketed TO. Perhaps our more natural state is to be traded WITH and that is what all this customer experience, CRM (in its broadest sense), Socialcrm etc is really all about. Is the customer now demanding to be part of the process rather than the “object” of the process ?

  6. Hi Ray,
    Great point. Yes, customers already are trading based on reputation, transparency and mutual benefit. And they are indeed demanding to be part of the process rather than the object of the process, whether companies admit it or not.

    You might say this is part of the ‘Web 2.0 phenomenon’, which is actually much broader than the Web. Reality TV shows, handheld devices, social sites, and public customer feedback forms on websites (e.g. hotels.com, cnet.com, amazon.com) have been major contributors to customers’ prevailing expectation to be heard in two-way conversation. Power has shifted toward customers as other customers’ feedback is much more accessible and relied upon for purchase decisions.

    This phenomenon also applies to B2B and offline scenarios, as it has strongly influenced expectations that define a good customer experience.

    I’ve written about the negative backlash that customers can have when companies don’t modify their approaches accordingly, such as Customer Satisfaction Bonuses and Employee Recognition.

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  7. Having worked in large companies I believe most of them have better intentions than some of the public is aware of — surely government and non-profits amd small businesses struggle with the same misunderstandings of what customer experience truly is, and the role it plays in any organization’s potential.

    This post is the 1st of a series explaining the 9 characteristcs of customer experience. See Customer Experience is Defined Entirely by Customers.

    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.

  8. Lynn

    Great insights… it is funny how many people forget that in the end the only one paying for our products are customers.. Anchoring this concept in an organisations DNA and continually reinforcing this perspective when internal staff are battling this out in the trenches is vital for an organisations health…

    Thanks again for the insights and key characteristics. These help all of us contextualize and frame the discussion points into the relevance of our own environments.

    Cheers
    Simon

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