What is customer experience? Customer experience (CX) is the totality of interactions, good + bad + indifferent, that a customer has with a business’s products, services and supporting functions.
Customer experience strives to make the user interaction with the company quick, efficient and minimal, so the customer has a satisfying experience.
Historical Example of Bad, Then Good CX
The U.S. mobile phone industry was having highly satisfying interactions selling Apple and Android phone handsets. However, it was having less than satisfactory experiences with extra fees and confusing billing. Customers loved their phones but hated the fees and limited data use. Enter the unlimited mobile phone data plans, even for higher overall prices, and CX significantly improved.
Great company CX programs seek to rapidly understand and mitigate customer negative experiences in any stage of their use of a company’s products or services. Moreover, they turn the negatives into positives, or at least neutrals, to create improved overall CX. In corporate CX programs, there are still lots of things that can and do go wrong. Below are four major perils that can, and often do, derail CX programs.
Perils of Customer Experience Programs
Peril #1: Is Your Company Culture Truly Open to Change?
A great CX program is fundamentally driven by being open and willing to listen as well as to change in ways that will make your customer’s experience with your company better. Fundamentally, great company CX programs are driven by a company culture that wants to make things better for customers. That’s it.
If you are starting or enacting a CX program that is unwilling to quickly and passionately act in ways that will make a customer’s interaction with your company better, you are better off pursuing other initiatives. Great CX programs are driven by a passion to listen and to change in ways that will delight a customer. CX programs aim to delight and drive customer growth.
Peril #2: Do You Let Data or Internal Opinion Drive CX Changes?
One of the greatest perils of CX programs is letting internal “experts” or select areas of the company, such as sales or strategy, speak for what they “believe” the customers want.
CX programs need to have customer surveys, customer forums, customer use sessions, text analytics of customer service sessions, and independent product/service evaluations tied to specific stages in the customer journey through your organization. This data gathering and the updates to your customer journey map need to be scheduled to ensure the freshest look at your CX.
Peril #3: Are Your Gathering Voice of the Customer (VOC) across All Vital Areas?
A third major peril is an overfocus on perspectives that the company believes are the most important to customers. Marketing, engineering and sales functions are great at comparing products in various charts and matrices to their competitors. This misses vital areas of the customer experience.
How often do customers get first-call resolution when they call a customer service center? Does billing go smoothly? Are bills easy to read? How long does it take to get a rebate? These issues are extremely important to customers. However, they often go unnoticed by companies because they are only gathering the VOC across areas they believe are most important. Listen to the VOC across all areas of the company.
Peril #4: Are You Acting Too Slow on Customer Feedback?
Corporate CX programs are great initiatives that energize customers through surveys, corporate executive speeches and also press coverage. The danger is that corporations gather a mountain of customer feedback and then act either too slowly or in areas that are not major customer pain points. This serves to de-motivate customers from contributing to the CX improvement process.
Instead, companies should be externally quiet about their CX initiatives. Moreover, they should over deliver and quickly deliver an improved experience to customers. Customers will know, and know quickly, that their feedback is being used. Companies need to act quietly as well as respond quickly to areas of greatest concern to customers.
Avoiding these four perils does not 100% guarantee a successful CX program. However, it does, most importantly, vastly improve your chances of a successful program. Today, do all you can to ensure your CX program avoids these four perils. Your customers will thank you.
Chad Storlie is a marketing director and an adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. He has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast and Manugistics. Storlie is also the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach readers how to translate and apply military skills to business.