29 June 2010

CSFs in Customer experience from LinkedIn

What are the 3 critical success factors in managing customer experience?

Paul Ward
Managing Partner at Avos Holdings

Good question, Daryl! I leave it to our capable community to chime in. Let me suggest a parallel question: What 3 critical error destroy the customer's experience?

It's a different question, since you have to manage the moments of truth that can destroy brand equity, but you also have to create and reinforce a strong branded experience. It's the difference between "hygiene" (keeping the experience acceptable) and "branded experience" (making the experience deliver brand values that are hard to compete with).

Jennifer Maldonado
Customer Experience Program Manager

OK, I've been watching for a response to this so I'll step up and take the first stab. :)

I think 3 critical success factors in managing customer experience are:

1. Putting yourself in the customer's shoes -- this means truly understanding from their perspective how your product/service fits in... avoid internal lingo when talking to them, use language that is relevant in their world, understand the business reason for what they are asking and don't just deliver like an order-taker what they've requested without analyzing whether that is the best approach for them and/or whether there could be unintended repercussions...

2. Closing the loop -- don't send surveys and/or collect suggestions without doing the obvious: READING them and responding! Even when there is not a solution, acknowledging the frustration and the fact you understand it and will work toward an eventual solution is important. Nothing is worse than taking the time to give your thoughts to a company and never hear back. About a year ago I went to the same coffee shop every day for a week because my son was taking a class in the neighborhood and I worked on my laptop there daily waiting for class to end. There was a sign up with the manager's name and email encouraging input. I emailed the individual with several suggestions (there were many opportunities for improvement!) and never heard a peep back. Walk the walk!

3. Employee engagement and empowerment -- happy employees make happy customers. Demoralized employees will have an attitude that bleeds into everything they do. Much better to empower employees to delight customers and deal with the missteps along the way that may arise as coaching opportunities and catalysts for improvement than to handcuff your customer-facing staff to the extent they feel helpless to truly resolve escalations. If they feel effective every day at work and believe they have the power to make a difference, they WILL make a difference.

My $.02.

Tony Bodoh
Business Growth

Jennifer, Great response!

Daryl, I think there are a few ways to answer the question the first is the guiding principles that lead to great customer experiences and the second is the method of executing those principles. I will address the principles.

1. Aligned Passion - Everyone from owner to employee to customer need to have their passions aligned. Stop focusing on growth and focus on expressing your passion and helping your customers express their passion in the most effective manner possible. When a customer realizes that you have given them the tools to express their passion, they will reciprocate by being passionate about your brand.

2. Focus on Giving - Every person who comes in contact with you or your company should feel that you are always giving the best you have to them without reservation and without expectation of getting something in return. The other way to express this principle is to give with love--just because you want to serve your customer. Giving without the "getting" mentality causes prospects to become customers and customers to become raving fans--even if you make a mistake.

3. Humble Confidence - Impress everyone who engages your company with humble confidence. Have the humility to recognize that it takes a team to build anything worthwhile. Give the team due credit. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Take responsibility for your mistakes no matter what the consequences. Have the confidence that you have or can find the people and resources necessary to build your dream. Share this faith with your team and your customers. Confidence breeds confidence.

Paul Ward   
Managing Partner at Avos Holdings

Off the top of my head: 1. Pilot studies. 2. Correct link between KPI and matrix management of touchpoints. 3. Branding the experience using "brand DNA" in the innovation, design, execution, and continuous improvement of the most critical touchpoints (critical to the customer and to the brand).

Alex Csergo
Director Asia Pacific & China

Hi Daryl. Seems you have allot of interest within the group on this topic. In my view the answer is dependent on the stakeholder's responsibility for delivering CE. I can respond from a data and analytics side by saying CE management is holistic.

Most CEO's objectives are linked to market share, profits, costs etc. Delivering CE within the enterprise will always be driven by a C level agenda. Therefore internal alignment of CE to internal stakeholder objectives (starting from the CEO) is critical to delivery - that's Tony's 1 & 2. (to me that's a 1).

I mentioned data. Without data you cannot qualify and quantify CE delivery, it remains fuzzy, academic, intangible. Sources of data need to be integrated to created a holistic view. Satisfaction means nothing without an association to revenue, market share, profitability - value. Therefore transaction data, usage data, marketing response data, research (e.g. research VOC/VOM etc - i think that's Jennifer's 1) all these are basic requirements of managing - without data you have no proof. The more you understand about the customer experience drivers cause and effect (internal and external) the more response "levers" you can create linked to strategy outcomes - such as retention and market share. (Data is a 2).

Finally the output. Within the delivery & management you need a way for action (response) to be both integrated and co-ordinated. Jennifer said 'closed loop', Paul said KPI's and matrix management, I think that is also "humble confidence" - knowing that things could be better. This is where testing and improvement, organizational learning etc are important. Typically you will find both operational CE delivery (touchpoint optimization) and tactical CE delivery (brand communication & experiences) in this space.

Once you have all three you have a process for managing CE.

Sherrie Mersdorf
Database Marketing Analyst at Cvent

If you reverse any of these answers, I think you get to the critical errors as well. I'd put not closing the feedback loop and not empowering employees at the top of critical errors. It doesn't matter if you have the vision or the desire if you're not actually doing something with it (closing the loop) or allowing employees to take feedback and run with it (empowering employees). While you obviously need to have executive/management buy in for CEM programs, I don't think not having it will cause the most harm. It just will probably mean the program isn't as successful as it could be. Not closing the loop and not empowering employees could actually result in a worse experience for the customer.

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