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.
would suggest that companies should not focus exclusively on efficiency, simplicity and optimisation of the rational and functional elements of the customer journey; they alone do not make up the whole customer experience.
Sometimes, change and customer experience optimisation is about baby steps. Sometimes, small steps can result in bigger leaps, or compounded marginal gains. For some organisations, this is a more realistic and successful approach than the implementation of a big CX transformation programme with a well-constructed business case, where the results may be similar in the end.
first direct have recognised that what set them apart for many years – their superior customer service, is not enough to stay ahead. first direct are constantly seeking to improve the basics and at the same time invest in innovation centred on the customer. Customer work, at first direct, is never done.
Taking a value based approach to CX and designing customer research that can identify the value within each journey, will help provide the business with a graded shortlist of things to focus on, fix and improve. It can also use it as a framework by which to judge existing initiatives around the business that impact on the customer experience.
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.