In my December post "Measuring Your Customer Experience Maturity" I challenged you to take stock of your current CX programs and processes. I asked you to take evaluate yourself honestly and with an eye toward improvement.
So did you?
As you ran headlong into the new year have you taken stock of where you are, where you want to be, and what it will take to get there?
I asked you 10 questions and i promised I would take you through each of them over the coming weeks and that time has come. In the first article I delved into your customer's needs and what would create potential "wins" for them. If you haven't reviewed those pieces, take a moment to read the opening article HERE before heading into questions 2 and 3.
Questions 2 and 3 are symbiotic, so it makes sense to talk about them at the same time. If you don't have these both locked down, you will have difficulty achieving any traction with your CX programs. Remember that if you are ultimately responsible for business results, your leaders will want to see certain improvements.
Don't forget that increased sales and customer retention are key metrics you will be judged upon. When you consider sales, don't simply concentrate on increased sales but also your sales per transaction average - this is an indicator of organic growth and the success of any incremental sales programs you may have in place.
Your customer feedback is a lagging indicator, but one that is indicative of potential sales growth.
The most important thing to remember is that all customer feedback connects back to a person and a need.
Do you have a mechanism in place to capture customer feedback? You must ensure you have the right mechanisms in place to communicate with your customers. This means a combination of three different channels:
Live "in the moment" feedback. This feedback often comes to your team during the course of a service moment. If could be the commentary a phone agent receives from a caller (such as when I told my rental car company yesterday that they didn't include a scraper in my car during an ice storm) or the incidental conversation that happens during a hotel check in. Your customers expect anyone they share commentary with to be able to take action and pass the information along. Your team should be expected and empowered to pass along anything they hear from customers to their leaders quickly. Be sure to make that process as easy as possible. Every employee has to take responsibility for collecting, sharing, and taking action on guest feedback.
Scripted live feedback moments. If you are wondering how this comes to life, think about the the last time you dined in a mid-scale sit down restaurant. If you had a manager come by and ask how you were enjoying your meal, you were "table touched." This process is an intentional, loosely scripted interaction by most restaurant groups and can yield much usable data if executed properly. You may find yourself a part of these moments - particularly if you handle follow up visits or check in calls. To find success in these moments, those involved must be careful not to lead customers to the desired response. "Is everything great here?" is the battle-cry of a manager who doesn't want candid feedback. Also leaders must be cognizant of what is happening during these conversations. There may be other non-verbal cues that can help drive understanding during these check ins, so keep your eyes, ears, and sense of empathy open.
Formal feedback mechanisms such as an electronic survey. This is the most intentional feedback system, and as such, there are several facets to consider. Are you asking the right questions? Is the survey too long? How will your teams access the data? Is there a mobile app for quick access or will they always have to access via a computer? Is the reporting fast and does it allow for stack ranking and comparisons over various periods of time? Are there push alerts for service recovery moments and outstanding service? This will likely be one of your most expensive CX investments and you want to be sure you consider how your leaders will use the system and make accessing and understanding the data as simple as possible. Think about speed and ease of use for your team. Finally, don't neglect the net promoter score question to get a sense of your customer's likelihood to recommend. Nielson reported that "83% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness."
Are you actively analyzing and sharing that feedback to prioritize competing interests and make decisions?
This is the step that many organizations fail to take. Information has become commoditized in some ways - meaning that most organizations have some way of collecting customer feedback. The ground that is up for grabs is what you choose to do with this information. No matter how you collect it, putting it to use is where you can gain traction in your customer and consumer experiences.
Share the information widely: Don't limit the information to executives or managers - your front line teams need to know what your customers are saying. They should know the organizational goals, how their area compares to those goals, and what is driving the results. Often your verbatim or follow up customer commentary will give you insight into what is driving the results.
Engage your team in solutions: Don't stop at just sharing the information. Energize the collective brain power of your team to solve problems for your customers and ensure you continue what is working. The added benefit is that you will automatically have employee buy-in as the ideas came from them.
One of the biggest issues leaders have is energizing their work force to mobilize the change - including them in the problem solving process helps grease the skids.
Use the data to make decisions: When you let your customers help guide your organizational mission you'll find unique alignment. Now there is a bit of extrapolation here as well. You can't sit and wait for the market to tell you what to do, but you can use it as the first stop on your road map. Decisions that are made with the customer at the center of your thinking automatically have a better chance of success. Remember that the market is hungry for experiences that deliver on the brand promise and pepper in periodic moments of innovation and fun. To dial in the daily execution, you must start by listening to what your customers are saying and then take action.
Some of this thinking may not strike you as earth shattering, but I'll give you a peak behind the curtain. Many organizations are not bothering to use these fundamental, success driving ideas. That gives you room to move ahead with just a few changes in tactics and strategy.
Take these actions and you'll find that your connection to your customers deepens and your organizational agility improves.
But most importantly, this keeps your customers at the center of everything you do.
Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer Experience (CX) Leader | Author | Speaker | Consultant
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