- 20 years in customer experience leadership, guiding companies in cross-organizational engagement for CX innovation and improving marketing organization efficiency and effectiveness.
- Managed customer experience improvement and marketing at Fortune 250 firms Sonoco (packaging) and Applied Materials (semiconductor); led 20-country task force to design Sonoco customer satisfaction methodology.
- On a panel of 17 CX experts for the CXPA; one of ten featured columnists for CustomerThink; number six all-time author on CustomerThink.com.
- Invited by IBM BigDataHub, SDL InsideCXM, SAP, MyCustomer, ClienteerHub, SearchCRM, CXPA, KCBS and others to contribute customer experience expertise.
- Consulting clients have included: Adobe, Allegion, Anritsu, Applied Materials, Cisco, Ingersoll Rand, Kaiser, SunPower, Thomson Reuters.
- Named to "Global Gurus: World's Top 30 Customer Experience Professionals;" SAP's "Top 60 Customer Experience Influencers;" Onanalytica's "Top 100 Influencers of Customer Experience & Big Data."
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Enabling Customer Experience ROI
- Many companies do not follow through on customer feedback to drive genuine improvements.
- If you recognize customers as the source of salaries and budgets, then you must listen to them and follow through in preventing recurrence of ease-of-doing-business issues. Online surveys with desktop dashboards are often the starting point of customer experience initiatives, without upfront planning on how to maximize use of the data throughout the company.
- Voice-of-the-customer (market research) managers are usually overwhelmed with program coordination and data analysis, and have little time or capability to drive action.
- Executives tend to focus on ratings and indexes rather than prescriptive comments from customers.
- Managers who take action on customer feedback typically address the issues within their own domain or seek technology fixes to bigger problems in place of zeroing in on root issues that span multiple organizations and then driving process- and people-transformation that prevents recurrence.
- Survey questions are usually not phrased to be of significant use to stimulate breakthrough innovations, nor to be of value for strategic planning, nor to be insightful to managers and employees in their reviews of processes and policies.
- Customer feedback ratings are sometimes used as bonus criteria, but this often leads to cooking-the-books rather than preventing occurrence or recurrence of issues for customers.
- Front-line, customer-facing employees are expected to bear the entire burden of ensuring customer experience excellence.
- When companies try to improve their customer experience management they immediately think of their front-line employees: salespeople, customer service reps, call center reps, etc. But many of the problems that impede superb customer experiences emanate from manufacturing, engineering, finance or other "back-office" functions. The decisions made by back office functions have an impact on overall customer experience either directly or through the influence that their policies or actions have on the customer-facing functions.
Customer experience management is not merely an issue for your customer-facing people but for the organization as a whole. Do not be surprised to find high-value levers for improving customer experiences among functions that appear to have very little contact with paying customers.
- Contact centers are very important to retaining customers, but contact volume is often a symptom of poor customer experience management in the rest of the company.
Contact centers are an important source of pure customer feedback, describing what customers are trying to do and obstacles they're facing. Most companies use service comments primarily for training agents who deal directly with customers. They don't use text/voice mining of customer comments from the contact center to educate the rest of the company.
There is a huge opportunity to stream pure customer feedback to the groups throughout the company who could use the feedback to create breakthrough innovations or who originated the obstacles; to increase their capability to anticipate their ripple effect on customers, and to hold them accountable to prevent recurrence. Service people who are liberated from solving tedious, avoidable problems caused by other parts of the company can focus on creating more value for the company and the customer.
As customer retention statistics demonstrate greater value over customer acquisition, companies that are excelling in customer experience have broken from traditional practices in hiring and compensation plans for contact centers.
- Companies rely on enticing customers to re-buy and recommend rather focusing on superior ease-of-doing-business and creating mutual value to compel loyalty.
- While timely and relevant marketing and sales are essential to a company's growth, the most-loved companies have mastered operational alignment with customers' preferences so that they enable rather than entice customers to love them.
Gains reaped from sizzle without sufficient substance are short-lived, and often require resource investments that erode the gains. While customer experience management is rooted in the total quality movement in the early 1990s, the excitement of customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, experiential marketing, Net Promoter®, social media, digital marketing, and other technologies has obscured the necessity of good old-fashioned process improvement.
Many managers of customer experience efforts are unaware of improvement tools such as fishbone diagrams, Pareto charts, systems thinking, change management and the like. These tools are essential for making full use of customer insights and differentiating a company's customer experience profitably. Customers are more interested in pursuing their own needs rather than the supplying company's needs. They have already paid fair market value (plus unexpected time, stress, and effort all too often), so additional mutual value is required for profitable customer engagement. Executives expecting immediate revenue growth from customer experience efforts are causing undue pressure on managers with unintended ironic effects (such as customer satisfaction surveys that aren't convenient or satisfying to participate in, subscription renewal campaigns that start too early and nag too often, etc.) on customer experience.
- Companies represent themselves as several silos rather than building trust through consistent, predictable performance across brands, locations, departments and time.
- Managers tend to see the customer experience in terms of their own internal chimneys. Surveys and journey mapping, data systems and policies, messaging and servicing are often unique to numerous groups across a company. These siloed activities not only duplicate effort and increase costs to the company, they cause a lot of confusion and require extra effort for customers.
Customers simply want what you're selling so they can smoothly live their lives or run their businesses, so these complications detract from the overall goal of ease-of-doing-business. Customer experience efforts that are designed as silos prevent management from gaining a big-picture perspective of what is experienced. They sub-optimize potential business results by design. The key to engagement is trust, which is earned through consistency, reliability and predictability. Mastery of these trust elements is the reason why certain discount brands have outperformed luxury brands in popularity and financial performance.