In the modern business climate, it is no longer enough to think about customer service as the responsibility of your customer service team alone. Instead, you need to think about the overall customer experience and that may mean having staff with the right customer service skills, the right marketing skills and the right product development skills.
For large businesses and multi-national corporations, it is often beneficial to have a dedicated customer experience department, or customer experience manager, who can oversee strategy in this area. For smaller organisations, however, this is often unnecessary. Regardless, meaningful transformation requires care and attention.
Understanding Customer Experience
Before any meaningful customer experience transformation can take place, it is important to establish precisely what we mean by the customer experience. Essentially, it encompasses all aspects of the customer journey, ranging from the product or service that is experienced, to their various encounters with your staff.
As Karen Allinder, a Strategic Accounts Manager at Miller Heiman Group, points out, the experience can even include how easy it is to find a parking space, or entering the building and either being greeted or not. It is only by exceeding expectations that can you build a positive customer experience.
Identifying Areas For Transformation
Once an understanding has been established, you must identify the specific aspects of the customer experience that need transformation. Often, it is best to do this by asking customers through surveys, with a focus on the journey, rather than specific touchpoints. Information can then be analysed to find out what is important to customers.
“Cross-industry research has demonstrated that journeys — or the customer’s end-to-end experience of buying a product or service — tend to predict overall satisfaction much more accurately than customer satisfaction with individual touchpoints,” Ewan Duncan, Kevin Neher, and Sarah Tucker-Ray explain in an article for McKinsey.
Establishing Transformation Goals
A business that understands all that the customer experience entails, and which has identified the aspects of the experience that are most important to customers and most in need of improvement, is ready to begin the next stage of the process. This involves setting clear goals and ensuring success in achieving them can be measured.
In addition to operations, it is important to consider what you want your customers to feel at the end of their journey and what can be done to ensure they experience that. Metrics for assessing success should be established and these may be similar to the metrics used to identify areas for transformation in the first place.
Putting Transformation Into Effect
Finally, the process of actually acting on a plan and putting a customer experience transformation into action requires great care. Depending on the size and nature of your organisation, it may be led by a customer experience manager or department, or it may be led by other business leaders.
Some businesses have enjoyed great success by starting with departments that are most keen on delivering the change needed, because they firmly believe in it. These departments can then act as change role models. The transformation itself may involve customer service coaching and changes to marketing, sales and other operations.
Customer service is no longer the responsibility of a customer service department alone, but instead part of a wider customer experience, which encompasses a vast range of departments. A customer experience transformation strategy requires an understanding of what the customer experience is, which things are important to the customers of your specific business, what aspects of your experience you want to change and what your goals are.
The 2017 Miller Heiman Group Sales and Service Summit will cover customer best practices and transformation strategies in more detail. Further information about the event can be found here.