After several years of being kicked to the curb, it looks like the customer is king once again. Previously businesses have focused on slashing costs and implementing technologies to improve efficiencies, but without regard to their customers. It was an era of lowest-bid-wins outsourcing and CRM projects that drag on forever. Maybe it’s karma or just a sign of the times, but companies learned their lessons, refined their methods, and now see the customer as the foundation which their brands and revenues build upon…
That’s not to say that outsourcing and CRM projects are things of the past. Current trends indicate on-shoring of resources and smarter implementation of enterprise CRM systems (thanks to the cloud), but more importantly the basis of such decisions comes back to the customer. There’s the realization that whatever initiative is taken it’d better be centered around the customer experience.
How a company manages the customer experience (CX) is fast becoming a business differentiator. Equipped with mobile phones and laptops, consumers are finding it easier than ever to fire off bursts of compliments or complaints on social networks. Today there’s no shortage of public chatter about cell phone carriers, airlines, eReaders, school lunches, etc. If a company can effectively manage its service to customers with the goal of making them happy (or happier), then it’s something to distinguish itself from competitors.
But there are some important aspects to consider in terms of customer experience management.
Customers are not just the VIPs
The prevalence of social media usage has surfaced an interesting phenomenon: a company can judge on how influential you are. It’s not just about your complaint — it’s about how many people it reaches. In other words, what’s the ripple effect of that one tweet, one video, or one status update? Many social media monitoring tools used by companies will establish a customer profile to include your number of followers (Twitter) or subscribers (Facebook, YouTube); how often you tweet or post; how widely your tweet, post, or video gets re-shared; your Klout score; and perhaps match you to a CRM database to really see if you’re in fact a customer in good standing.
Naturally, a tweet from Mr. VIP with 500,000 followers will garner more eyeballs than Joe Smith complaining about a product to his 20 Twitter followers consisting of family members and close friends. Customer is king but not created equal? Companies should be sensitive to this and do its best to address all issues with all customers in a timely fashion. There’s nothing wrong with doing more for the loyal customers in the end, but up front an effort should be made to respond to any customer equally.
A moment is not an experience
Well, maybe a moment is still an experience albeit a short one. What’s important is think of the customer experience in cradle-to-grave terms. From the start of the interaction with the company brand or product, all the way until — or even beyond — the transaction. Keep in mind that not only will a customer remember a good (or poor) experience, but your product will also be there as a reminder. More often than not a company will pick out just a certain part of the overall experience to tweak. Take for example a hotel stay. Nobody like long lines at the front desk to check in, so the hotel may staff more friendly clerks behind the counter. Or even have self-service kiosks. Or have polite staff members walk to you with a tablet to check you in. That’d be impressive, right? But imagine when you get to your room to find a shoddy mattress, wobbly furniture, no WiFi reception, and a static-filled TV.
Be transparent and approachable
Clearly list all the available means to be reached — phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Even set proper expectation of response times. Spell out what problems/issues can be tackled by which channels. Don’t even be shy to link to third party resources if they can be helpful to your customers. The first step to good customer experience management would be to allow opportunities for customer engagement.
Do you have some CEM tips to share? What do you think is the “secret sauce” to effective CEM? Do you have a good or poor CEM story to share?