By Orla Tynan Babb
In terms of customer experience, it’s no different and there is no shortage of IT solutions available that will give you a more complete picture of your customer, faster access to data, integration and live solutions that allow you to service your customers 24/7. However, is that really what a good customer experience is about? I would suggest not.
Before we look at where technology does fit into a CX strategy, let’s look at what we mean by customer experience.
In essence it is all about your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your business. This perception is formed from a culmination of all the interactions with your business over the lifetime of the relationship, which critically starts on day one! These interactions run across 4 dimensions: the Brand experience, the Buying experience, the Product (and price) experience and the Service experience.
Brian Solis, a thought leader in digital transformation and leadership, explains that experience is an emotion, observation or reaction. Over the customer’s life-cycle these experiences culminate resulting in ‘the’ customer experience. He goes on to point out that customer experience is no one thing, it’s everything.
At The Customer Edge, we refer to this culmination of experiences, as the Total Customer Experience, recognising the multiple touch points a customer has with your company. Typically, these touch points or dimensions as we refer to them, are reflected in 4 key areas mentioned above – Brand, Product (including pricing), Service and Buying - and it’s the fine balancing of these 4 dimensions, that can enable you to consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Technology in the wider sense often plays an enabling role in delivering the some aspects of customer experience. For example, a customer is more readily able to research a product or service whenever it suits them, place an order outside of business hours or find answers through online self-service centres. These IT solutions may well lead to service improvement which may go some way to improving your customer experience but they should be recognised for what they are – a customer service platform, not a CEM solution.
Customer experience after all is about the customer and there are many ways to offer an excellent customer experience that does not involve technology at all. Take for example, the wine distributor, that includes a personal hand written note in with each delivery. Not rocket science. Not hard to do. But thoughtful enough to foster a positive relationship between the company and customer– a relationship that engenders loyalty and advocacy – the true benefit of providing great customer experience.
Technology is not the correct starting point for any customer experience improvement project and perhaps surprisingly, nor is the customer.
The starting point for effective customer experience management is the mindset. The right mindset will determine the success of the outcome. The right mindset is not about making the customer service team (or customer experience team as they are being rebranded) responsible for customer experience - after all, the customer service team only touch a small segment of your customer base and a segment that is already disgruntled with some aspect of their experience. The right mindset is about recognising that you, irrespective of your position or role in the company, play an integral part to the overall customer experience. The right mindset puts the customer at the heart of what you do and improves the journey for them.
If you understand and believe in the 4 dimensions of customer experience outlined above, you will immediately see that any CEM solution must be cross-functional and therefore impossible for any 1 business function to own. The right mindset recognises that effective CEM is more than a short term project. It evolves and changes and requires commitment from the top down and a whole of business approach
An effective CEM approach that provides market differentiation and advantage goes beyond a technology solution. It’s about a mindset, and a mindset shared by everyone in the organisation. “What can I do to help this customer?” And a system that is owned by the employees, carries the right mindset and puts the customer at the very heart of the business is valued by the customer and hard for competitors to replicate.
Is it any wonder Apple are where they are today, when the late Steve Jobs said ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology – not the other way round.’
About the Author
Orla has worked extensively in the small and medium market and is passionate about growing the business of her customers. She believes that thinking like a customer is the key to success, and understands how to think objectively to achieve that. Orla prides herself on her ability to forge strong relationships and work closely with partners, developing effective strategies to deliver the business objectives.
A career experience that spans IT, telecommunications and retail markets, Orla holds a BSc (Business Information Technology with Spanish) (Hons) from The University of Northumbria (UK) and is a Professional Member of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMIM).