Annabel Venner, Global Brand Director at Hiscox as quoted in Marketing Week, “It’s not just about technical expertise anymore, it’s about understanding the customer experience and joining up your organisation to deliver it”.
Last week I read an article in Marketing Week which was based on a conference speech given by Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall. It talked about how the marketer needs to build allies across the whole business. If the CMO is to own the customer experience (that’s the subject for another time) and the total customer experience touches all parts of the organisation, then this makes sense.
According to a recently published survey conducted by Econsultancy, 40% of marketers admit that they are not adequately supported by other members of their organisation and that different departments work to their own agenda. Organisation structure is also ranked as the no. 2 barrier to improving the customer experience (after the complexity and number of touch points). Fewer than 25% of organisations effectively integrate cross-functional working practices around the needs of the customer and employees. What’s more very few companies can speak to customers in one voice across multiple channels and departments.
So, silos are still alive and kicking despite the move by many to a more holistic customer experience or ‘customer journey’ type approach. A survey from the American Management Association cites that 83% of executives say that silos exist in their company. Whether the silo is operational, channel or hierarchical , they are not conducive to customer experience excellence or a customer centric organisation. With new digital channels, ever emerging technology and changing customers’ needs and expectations, companies need to be finding ways to be more agile and flexible rather than restrictive, bound by internal bureaucracy and decisions which are sometimes (or often) detrimental to the customer experience.
My suggestions to for getting around silos:
There needs to be one credible and empowered owner for the customer experience whether it’s the CMO, a CXO or a COO, the point is there needs to be one person charged and accountable for making it happen across the whole organisation
Putting together a detailed understanding and mapping of the customer journey which involves the wider organisation in its creation, its sharing and its delivery
A single data view of the customer that is shared between teams - more specifically, joining up and harnessing online and offline data
A clear governance structure with roles and responsibilities in the delivery of the customer experience strategy including the crucial non-marketing ‘other’ departments e.g. digital, innovation, technology, customer service, call centre
An understanding of the inter-dependencies between departments and the impact they have on customers
An environment that encourages and rewards collaboration, teamwork and open communication
Measurement that supports the customer experience strategy and vision and importantly KPI’s that don’t conflict
It’s all well and good jumping into customer experience improvement and acting on customer feedback, but it won’t make a fundamental difference if the organisation isn’t aligned to deliver the customer experience that’s required. Companies need to find a way of establishing why and how everyone’s role is related to the customer.
We find that a valuable support to organisations is a fresh pair of eyes to hold the mirror up and show the current state of the organisation and how well it delivers Customer Experience today. This helps identify the impact of different departments on the customer experience. It not only brings objectivity to bridge those silos and viewpoints, but also leverages best practice learnings and established customer experience techniques.
In the words of Annabel Venner, Global Brand Director at Hiscox as quoted in Marketing Week, “It’s not just about technical expertise anymore, it’s about understanding the customer experience and joining up your organisation to deliver it”. Behaviour that is in the best interests of the whole organisation and the customer must be the ultimate goal. Easier said than done!
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.