(Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger, Esteban Kolsky, is one of the top independent analysts focused on customer experience, CRM, sales, service and all other aspects of the customer-facing parts of business. His writing on digital transformation and social-media-enabled service should be required reading. Today, he focuses on something that should be a little more personal: the customer experience. It should be more personal – but it isn’t. Here’s Esteban to explain why.)
Earlier this year I presented at C3 in Las Vegas. The topic of my presentation was Customer Experience for Executives. It was very well received, if I say so myself – since no one else was in the room… Kidding! I was asked to post a brief summary of the talk here.
I have summarized the main points below (see full slide here) – but more importantly, I welcome your contributions. What have your executives asked/demanded to know about customer experience? What did I miss in my presentation? What would convince your executive team to give CX a whirl? Let me know in the comments below, or contact me via Twitter and let me know – or just let me know any way you can.
Let’s start with the basics – do you need to embrace Customer Experience? Yes.
Recent surveys compiled by the Office of Consumer Affairs (an entity working with the U.S. Government and reporting within the White House hierarchy) show that 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience. “Guaranteed” is the key here – customers are not satisfied with just having or being promised one. A recent survey in the U.K. shows up to 86 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for an upgraded experience. This is what customers want: better experiences – and when more than half of your customers want something, shouldn’t you be willing to give it to them?
I wrote some time ago about the shift from a traditional customer lifecycle (where the company decides what type of interaction – and therefore experience – the customer is exposed to based on its internal recognition of the current state of the customer in the lifecycle) to a continuum (where the customer decides at the moment of the interaction what he needs to get form the company and how, therefore building experiences personalized and customized to his current needs and status).
I advocated then as I do now that company-centric behavior, where results, benefits, and value are measured by the company based on its internal benchmarks and standards, are quickly disappearing. This come thanks to the emergence of online communities – where each dissatisfied voice can be augmented thousands of times instantly – and the rise of the customer era. Not only has this trend continued to evolve, but the shift to customer-centricity and the empowerment of the customer is gaining traction in corporate America at previously unheard-of rates. Indeed, in my last research report I found that 84 percent of organizations are now embracing the customer experience model – even if they are not very sure what they are doing yet (72 percent are still strategizing and discussing).
In executive suites, the most common questions I get asked are, what should be the difference between today’s customer experience efforts and those in the recent past, which in most cases failed – and should we even try to create customer experiences now. The distinction is simple. By enforcing a designed experience created by the company, you are still steeped in company-centric behavior that focuses mostly on – figuratively speaking – using a sledgehammer to make customers stay in their place. This is not very attractive – especially when these customers can complain in their communities and degrade the value of the brand. A customer-experience based world, where you provide the basic infrastructure and let customers personalize and customize their experiences each and every time, is the way to go.
Your job is not to learn (or infer, or deduce, or think you know, or know you know – but don’t really know but assume… and you know what they say about assuming) what customers want. Your job is to figure out how to build the best possible multi-channel, dynamic, flexible, and responsive infrastructure in your organization, leveraging the technologies and tools provided, so you can let customers build their own personalized, optimized experience for each interaction based on their needs and wants for that specific moment. Whether they need a quick, single-word answer or a lengthy explanation as a result of the same question asked in two different contexts and situations, your infrastructure musty be able to figure that out and provide both – and learn from that interaction so it can improve the next one.
This is not an avant-garde movement in customer strategies – we’ve been talking about this since the term “customer-centricity” was introduced in the mid-1990s. We now, finally, have the right environment, tools, people, and ability to deliver on that – in real time.
That’s what you need to know for Customer Experience at the executive level. The link below will take you to a deck that will explain it in more detail and give you some numbers and data to write it more eloquently.
What do you think?
To learn more about customer experience monitoring and measurement and how it can be incorporated into the breadth of your lead to money process, visit the Clicktools website.