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Customer Experience Mystification

Published: Mar 06, 2017
Author: Maria Fernandez-Riddick

These days, we’re all accustomed to hearing new buzzwords and phrases that are so overused as to become meaningless. One recent example is the term “CX,” the acronym for customer experience. Put simply, delivering a great CX means understanding and consistently fulfilling customer expectations and needs across interactions with your company. In the past few years, many companies have started creating stand-alone functions dedicated entirely to focusing on CX; this represents an evolution from traditional business-centric “customer service” functions to the creation of customer-centric “customer experience” disciplines. Let’s explore: What is the most important element of CX? Why is CX different from customer service? And why is CX terminology misunderstood?

The most important element of the customer experience is, of course, the customer. Traditional customer service practices focused on the industry dictating to customers the rules of what to buy, why they need it, how to acquire it, and how they would be served. Today’s environment is much different. Not only are customers very savvy, but they are also empowered with knowledge of what, when, and why they want goods or services and what the price is that they’re willing to pay. Customers today have become more humanized, causing emotion and technology to play a big role in what customers want and how they want it. More importantly, the differences between consumers and business customers are starting to disappear—we are all people! We all want a great product/service that is simple to use, meets our needs, always works as expected, and includes all the latest technology available.

We need to sit the customer at the table with us from the moment we ideate a product/service to the moment we launch and sell it and beyond. We need customer feedback to design and create exactly what they want. Some restaurants are already doing this by creating special test menus with new meals, asking customers to try them, gathering instant feedback. This helps them to select the new meals that customers liked the most.

Everything we do today must be customer centric, from the way we design our products and services, to the way we organize our business units, and even the way we train our customer-facing employees. Why? Because great customer experiences increase customer loyalty and grow revenue, which has been confirmed by many research firms.

This brings me to my second point, why is CX different from Customer Service?  Customer service is still governed by internal business metrics that are not necessarily aligned to meet customer needs. Using only business metrics may have worked in the past but it will not work for much longer. I recently chatted with a colleague about CX metrics. He was telling me a key statistic for Live Chats was to have 75% of online chats answered within 30 seconds. I was puzzled and asked him “how do you know 30 seconds is enough time to answer customers’ questions or even resolve their issues?” He simply told me that we don’t keep track of that metric.  While tracking chat time may be important for the business, my colleague realized how important it is to also track whether customers’ problems get resolved, and we are now working to add this new indicator. Gaining customer loyalty is simple if you follow some basic steps. 1) Call them back when you say you will. 2) If you have them on the phone or via online chat, solve their issue first then show them how they can do it themselves next time. 3) Make sure you have a case log of customer calls so they don’t have to tell their story from scratch when they get transferred or when they call for the same problem. 4) Have empathy and kindness. Think and feel as you are in the customer’s shoes!

Lastly, why is CX terminology misunderstood? We find many companies now selling enterprise products that purport to improve CX. Products and services will not create a good customer experience by osmosis. In addition to purchasing a nice CX product suite, it’s also imperative to establish the right customer-centric strategy, including customer-centric disciplines that are simple and fueled by common sense. Examples of CX strategies to get you started include: aligning business and CX goals, creating a dedicated team of CX practitioners, gaining executive buy-in, educating employees, partners and providers on CX goals/strategies, including customers in your design and development plans, collecting voice of the customer feedback, and developing a plan to fix customers’ pain points. In closing, CX is not one more new acronym. It is a reminder that focusing on your customers will naturally grow your business.

Maria Fernandez-Riddick is a Customer Experience Transformation Evangelist in Verizon Enterprise Solutions. She is one of the creators of the Enterprise Customer Experience team and has been instrumental in the creation and adoption of CX Disciplines. She holds a MBA, a Master Certificate in Project Management and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.