Putting The Experience In Customer Experience


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There’s been a lot of talk lately about Social CRM,CEM (customer relationship management) and other M’s. I think M, which stands for management, is a bit of a misnomer, because we aren’t really managing our customers as much as we are collaborating with them, peer-to-peer, shoulder-to-shoulder vs. the top-down and inside-out approach of yesteyear. Management decided what the product would be, marketing decided how to market and message, and then the product and its marketing gets put into the customer’s face as-is. This no longer works. But I digress… The point I was making is not that I have an issue with certain terms — after all, it doesn’t matter what you call something as long as you do it — the point I was making was that you shouldn’t focus on the management as much as you should focus on the experience.

To actually give this experience to others, you need to live and breathe it within your organization. You can’t adopt social if you aren’t ready to service the social customers; regardless of whether or not you are using social for awareness or another goal, customers will want your help regardless, so you need to prepare to service them. Crummy service and crummy product are the top killers of customer experience. No matter how pretty your community is, and how awesome your charts and graphs are, if the customer experience is bad, your social media efforts will backfire. A lot of the great experience will come from the product actually helping them do the jobs they need to do (see Wim Rampen’s writing for that). And a lot of it will come from uncomplicated, honest and empathetic customer service. As Ray Wang said at the CRM Evolutions conference in NYC last week during his session, “Social CRM is all about the RIGHT interaction with the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time”. Regardless of whether you do it online, via email, via phone, or in person, the same commitment has to be there, otherwise things will just fall apart. And guess what.. this experience has to be uniformly excellent, no matter if I ask for help online or in person. And what this means is that it has to become part of the organizational fabric, an unquivering raison-d-etre for the entire company. It has to be communicated top-down, down-up, sideways and every other way. Adequate training has to be provided, and employee rewards and reviews have to measure how effectively their job provides an excellent experience (and yes, even jobs that aren’t directly touching the customer, provide a customer experience). Because as we all know, what gets measured, gets done. I’m not talking about lipservice, I’m talking about real-life hard work that goes into instilling excellence into every part of the organization.

Let’s consider an example. Just yesterday, I was in a major department store looking for a watch to replace the watch that quite unceremoniously decided to vacate my wrist and smash on the New York City pavement. I was tired from a 7 a.m. flight and I just wanted someone to help me take some watches out of a case so I could try them on. There was a woman behind the counter doing her own stuff. Hmmm… I am sure she didn’t see me, so let me make sure she did, I said to myself. “Excuse me, can you help me?” I asked her. “I don’t work here, I’m just visiting from another store, but let me get someone for you.” I looked at her bewildered by what she said and partly by lack of sleep. Surely, she hasn’t read many SCRM blogs, because she doesn’t know that the social customer doesn’t really care where you work or don’t work: if you wear the company badge, you better wear your service hat with it. And then the most amazing thing happened. I just walked away. I didn’t tweet or do anything, partly because I now have an old school flip phone as I wait for my iPhone4 to come in to replace the one I lost in New York. I simply walked away, because I will not be buying a watch from there, and this experience is forever deposited into my mental file associated with this store’s brand. I even contemplated returning a designer bag I just bought there and haven’t used yet. Surely, this store hasn’t done an adequate job of explaining to everyone how important customers really are.

Before you ever talk about improving your processes, and adopting tools, you need to commit to an excellent experience first. This is where SCRM and CEM stop being theory and become practice. You need to start with your culture and become what you preach. You need to fix the experience and service, before you just throw yourself into social, because if your customer experience is subpar, social will only put it under a microscope. As Martin Schneider said, “both companies and consumers are finding themselves accepting social as a band-aid to bad service rather than an additional tool to extend the relationship”.

Photo credit Kate Hazard

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maria Ogneva
I'm the Head of Community for Yammer, the enterprise social network used by 100,000 organizations, including more than 80% of the Fortune 500. At Yammer, she is in charge of social media and community programs, fostering internal and external education and engagement. You can follow her on Twitter at @themaria or on her blog, and Yammer at @yammer and company blog.


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