This isn’t a new topic; but it still isn’t happening.
Companies are grappling with issues arising from disconnected customer experiences as they add more technology solutions and channels for customer engagement without the organisational foundations to support this. Call it omni-channel, multi-channel or whatever – given customers are channel agnostic, it’s just a seamless or consistent experience for customers at the end of the day.
There are many historical and legacy reasons why organisations are like this. And it is true, that the brands that have grown up in this technology and data rich era tend to be more geared up for channel consistency, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have some of the same organisational issues too.
We see all sorts of things happening that almost prevent the customer experience happening rather than facilitate it – the main symptoms are:
Lack of a clear cross channel experience strategy and of the roles, skills, behaviours, processes required
Absence of an influential customer champion at the top
Unclear ownership of the customer from end to end
Silo’s that don’t share or talk to each other and yet engage with the same customer
Departments who don’t deal directly with the customer not being involved or motivated around the customer
HR and people strategies not aligned to the customer
Disregard for the employee experience
Company-wide metrics and kpi’s not supporting the quality of the customer experience that’s delivered
No common, accurate and consistent information view of the customer
Channels that have become ‘bolt-on’s which don’t work together or support the experience vision
Is anyone doing it well? We’ve all heard the examples of Disney, Starbucks, Virgin but there still aren’t many cases of organisations seamlessly working together to deliver a blended experience.
Customers can’t pick up where they left off with conversations as they switch from mobile to in-store to on-line, or get recognised and not have to repeat themselves irrespective of the touch point, or have issues resolved first time without the need to re-contact, or get the same answers and story as they brave the technological divides of their journey, or have promises made by one channel that are kept to the word by the next. Too often customers fall through the net as they move through their experience with a brand. Far too often the effort and onus is on the customer to engage as there aren’t handovers in place where organisations take ownership for the customer.
Amanda Forshew - Customer Alignment
Customer Alignment specialises in assessing a brand’s customer experience ‘reality’ and helps them move towards a more joined up approach where the organisation is aligned around the customer as well as its own aspirations and capability.
The airline industry is a highly competitive one. Technology, hand in hand with a human touch, will deliver better experiences for customers. The challenge is in the alignment of the culture, processes, systems and capability of the organisation, with the needs of customers in a way that employees are empowered and engaged to deliver. That goes for at any point in their customer experience, but is even more of a priority in times or disruption.
Customers need their experiences to be seamless and without friction. Importantly, they also hope that any problem will be proactively owned and resolved quickly and satisfactorily by the company or organisation with whom they are interacting.
When talking about touch points and channels, we refer most often to those within our control e.g. the call centre, email, the physical store, social media. We don’t often consider those which are delivered by another organisation for example a business partner. Companies seem only too ready to hand over responsibility for the customer to their partner. Yet some seem quick to blame them when things go wrong and act as judge and jury when their NPS scores, say, are not up to scratch. Delegating companies often seem to want it
What Alamo have done is they have not only managed to improve the customer journey and eradicate pain points or friction but have succeeded in elevating the customer experience and at the same time, become more operationally efficient. Smiles all round.
If we were to compare the energy sector to that of aviation, Richard Branson summed it up very well: “Look, I think that when we started Virgin Atlantic 30 years ago, we had one 747 competing with the airlines that had an average of 300 planes each. Every single one of those have gone bankrupt because they didn’t have customer service. They had might, but they didn’t have customer service, so customer service is everything in the end.” What will the energy sector look like in 10, 20 or 30 years if things don’t change?
AI in its current form is only part of the solution. AI requires a deeper understanding of customer needs so that it is an enabler rather than the answer for its own sake. The balance of AI vs. human interactions in the Customer Experience needs to be carefully orchestrated.
Does your C-Suite champion the Customer Experience? Is your CEO committed to Customer Experience success? The protagonists in your customer experience need to be shrewdly put in place.
As is often quoted, Customer Experience is not a department; it is a culture, a mindset and a way of doing business. CEO’s need to lead from the top, instilling this philosophy whilst harnessing their employees to deliver a consistent and valuable experience for customers over the long-term.
There are many more ‘excellent’ brands in the US in terms of customer experience. Some 58 brands (up from 24) in the US this year are categorized as delivering an ‘excellent’ or outstanding customer experience, according to the KMPG Nunwood calculations. Compare this to just four companies who cross that threshold in the UK. Evidently this means that brands in the UK are lagging by a factor of 15.
What would happen if your favourite coffee shop started acting like a bank? With an automated order system producing your caffeine fix based on assumptions, there would be no chance of a tall, soya milk cappuccino with sugar free vanilla syrup and an extra shot of Guatemalan espresso!
Customer Experience transformation requires a joined-up understanding of the end to end customer journey and the role that the call centre plays in this customer journey. Add to that, the challenge of how to align the role of technology related touchpoints and establish how humans and technology co-exist seamlessly (another subject for another day)!
Surveys are a key part of the big business of Customer Experience Management and Voice of Customer programmes – but they have become a victim of their own success. Your survey should be just one tool, supporting a wider customer experience measurement model.