When was the last time you experienced your customer experience?

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Or put another way, when was the last time you:
• Accessed your website from a mobile device?
• Checked to see if a promotion code works when you try to enter it online?
• Asked one of your field sales representatives about the specifications of one of your products?
• Used your interactive voice response unit to access your account information online?
• Tracked the number of emails you receive from your company each week?
• Bought one of your products?
• Checked the packaging and delivery times on your purchased items?
• Tried to return one of your own products?
• Contacted one of your customer service representatives to place an order or resolve an issue?
• Read an invoice sent by your billing department?
I’ll stop at 10. What’s my point? As CX professionals, we spend a lot of time collecting customer information, analyzing survey data, completing journey maps, creating process maps, using measurements to track our progress against established metrics and so on. All these activities are time well spent in the pursuit of a better customer experience. But too often, they become our only activities in pursuit of this goal. We overlook the basics of experiencing what our customers experience when they interact and buy from us. We may not sense the perceived emotional response in our hard and fast data when customers become frustrated with their online experience or poor-quality packaging. We miss their choice words for us as they get caught in the “call routing game of department transfers” when seeking the answer to a simple question.
We fail to “experience the experience!”
If we were doing more real-time research, we would quickly come to realize that sometimes our processes are flawed, our policies are prohibitive, and our systems don’t work as we had planned. By understanding what it really means to be one of your customers, we can experience firsthand the challenges they face and the frustrations they experience with our products and services. I contend if we were doing more of this hands-on research, then as consumers we would experience fewer poor experiences when dealing with B2B, B2C and B2B2C organizations. For in this case, it matters not what type of customer you serve. We are all consumers. We are all somebody’s customer. We know what makes us happy. We know what makes us angry. Why don’t we apply our own experiences to that of our organization and create better experiences? The answer remains a mystery to me!
If we are truly committed to creating better experiences, I suggest we do these things to ensure the customer remains the focus of our efforts:
1. Experience the experience. Buy your products. Use your promotions. Check your packaging. See what your customers experience when working with your organization.
2. Recruit your own shoppers. No need to spend money on mystery shoppers. Use people within your organization to shop your products and learn what they go through in the process.
3. Test your technology. AI. BOTS. IVR. CRM. Chat. Websites. Mobile Apps. As great as all this technology is, it becomes useless as a contributor to an improved CX if it fails.
4. Break your processes. What happens when one of your process fails? How do you respond? What’s the backup plan to avoid customer frustration?
5. Invest in Learning and Development. It’s a popular line item to cut when balancing budgets. Unless we continually invest in our people to build their skills and keep them up to date on our latest product introductions and promotional activity, they won’t be able to deliver the best experience.
6. Promote One and Done. Why not allow your customer service representatives to solve a customer’s issue on the first call, without a transfer or call back? Give them the authority they need to do their jobs!
7. Mistakes happen. When you fail to deliver the best experience to your customers. Admit it. Apologize. Make it right immediately. Give them a reason to stay with you. Customers understand mistakes but not when you make it difficult for them to resolve it or make the same one twice.
8. Close the loop. Use the data you collect from this exercise to drive continuous improvement. Identify root causes and establish long-term solutions.
9. Don’t stop. This is not a one-time event. As CX professionals we need to continually “experience our customer’s experience” so we are always improving, constantly exceeding expectations and always valuing the business they give us.
Lastly, don’t try to do this alone! Engage your colleagues, especially those who may not have frequent contact with your customers. They are sometimes the best source of unbiased feedback on the experience you are delivering to customers. They can also be great ambassadors for the work you are doing as a CX professional. But more on that in a future blog!

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