Customer Experience Motto for 2012


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Recently, I came across a great quote by Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research, Inc. where she said, “Companies need to start treating customer experience as a business disciplinenot a bumper sticker.” It made me wonder if companies, as they start planning their strategy for 2012, are truly embracing what it means to build a customer-centric culture.

Working in the customer experience industry, weekly I meet with numerous Fortune 500 organizations. I am always surprised to hear comments like, “this year we are focusing on our customers first and foremost” or “we have just hired a new senior director to really lead our customer experience initiative.” For many of these companies, they are just starting to embark on the customer experience improvement journey. A 2011 study from the Temkin Group shows only 7% of companies think they are customer experience leaders while 61% of them want to be at the top in their industry in three years. The question I ask then is, “Why now?” Haven’t you always been concerned about your customers?

I believe the answer is really a two-fold. Yes, organizations have always been concerned about their customers but increasing revenue has been the driving force. It didn’t matter if it grew from net new clients or existing–they just had to hit the numbers. This is becoming increasingly more challenging in today’s economy. Organizations are looking internally to see where they can make changes. The obvious answer is that they need to keep existing clients and leverage them both as referrals as well as upsell opportunities.

The second answer is there are now tools in place to help achieve these goals. Companies no longer are just paying lip service to focusing on the customer but investing in tools that help their employees become customer advocates. They empower them to focus on the customer and to have more personalized and intelligent interactions.

As Kerry Bodine states, if driving customer satisfaction is a focus for 2012 then you need to do much more than add it to your corporate mission statement. You need to:

  • Dedicate resources to exploring, analyzing and solving the challenges that hinder customer centricity.
  • Listen and watch your customers in their setting to experience the service and value they are receiving from you as an organization.
  • Build a long-term strategy to address all issues related to improving the customer experience–this includes acquiring tools, adapting the corporate culture, empowering employees, etc.
  • Monitor changes and results over time. The key to keeping a customer experience program active is proving its success throughout the organization.

We all must rally together and make 2012, 2013, 2014 and beyond, the year of the customer. Bumper stickers fade with wear and tear and may even peel off. When customer experience becomes a discipline, however, it’s not just a sticker, but a birthmark.

Does your organization already have plans in place for building out a customer-centric culture in 2012? If so, what are your first steps to ensure you are treating it as a discipline and not just another bumper sticker?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stacy Leidwinger
Stacy Leidwinger serves as product management director for the Vivisimo Velocity Information Optimization Platform. In her role, she assists in driving product roadmap, market requirements, product positioning as well as interacting closely with customers and partners to understand their information challenges.


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