Topic(s): Customer Centricity Customer Experience CX & Business Strategy

Customer experience in times of pandemics and budget cuts? Here’s how you do it:

Customer experience has been around for some time now. Due to the corona pandemic, a lot of companies are cutting budgets on their CX efforts. Still, more than ever it’s important to put your customer in the center of your activities. Looking back, how CX has changed in 2020? And moving forward, how can you do customer experience on a limited budget and put it back on your company’s strategic agenda? We asked Berend-Jan Rietveld, CX Strategist and Head of Passenger Experience at Schiphol Airport. Here are some key takeaways from our latest webinar session.

 

1. Make the customer your common goal

Customers expect end-to-end service and there are several communication channels to manage. Whether you’re an airport like Schiphol, or you’re a retailer, you don’t own all the steps in the customer journey. Third parties are often involved, and you don’t control how they deliver a product or service to the customer. Therefore, it’s crucial to work together with your ecosystem.

“Schiphol Airport owns about 5% of the full customer journey, shops, security, customers... Those are all different stakeholders”. The key to making the ecosystem work is to make the customer your common goal. “That is the beauty of customer experience. You can’t disagree on wanting to serve the customer to the best of your capacities.” Next, you also need to share the insights you have. If you don’t own customer data, that can be hard. So, at Schiphol, they put up an API platform where they allow partners like KLM to migrate with their systems. So, for example, they share data about the waiting lines so KLM can serve the passengers better too.

 

2. How can you maintain customer experience efforts under limited budgets?

Maintaining customer experience efforts doesn’t require a lot of additional CAPEX. At least, when your company knows its purpose, has the ability to adapt quickly, and if you empower your employees to fulfill that purpose. During the pandemic, they developed a new persona at Schiphol, called the “health concern passenger”. They mapped that persona’s needs against the pyramid of Maslow:

 

mapping customer experience on maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Passengers, or customers in general, are concerned about their safety. Is it safe? Will I catch the virus? What can I expect at the airport? Hygiene and clear communication are super important. “People say that customers have become more demanding, but I disagree. At this moment, customers want basic needs like safety fulfilled. Focus more on empathy, your employees, on understanding. That doesn’t cost a thing.” You can tailor the customer experience to those needs. One concrete example is the back-office personnel at Schiphol. They got time to walk around in the terminals to answer questions from passengers. This helped the passengers to have enough information and to make them feel safe.

 

3. How can you put customer experience back on the strategic agenda?

In 2020, Schiphol Airport saw traffic drop up to 2% of their normal traffic. Of course, they aren’t the only company that felt the impact of the pandemic. This has led to budget cuts. Consequently, customer experience efforts are under scrutiny these days. So, how can you put CX back on the company agenda?

“The answer is twofold. On the one hand, it takes perseverance to make management see CX as a business discipline. So, you can’t give up. On the other hand, try to make it as concrete as possible, link it to business KPIs.” A good example is the time slots that Schiphol created for security. “Time slots at security aren’t really sexy, or you don’t link it to customer experience immediately. But especially today passengers worry about social distancing at security because of the queues. With the time slots, we can guarantee safety. That is customer experience as well.

 

To wrap it up

Ultimately, customer experience management is not about the rollercoaster journeys. It’s about knowing what your customers need and going all in to meet those expectations. To meet those expectations you need to make sure your processes run right, so your product or service is up to par. Lastly, make sure your employees are trained to deliver that service. So even in times when budgets are being cut, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the customer experience that don’t require additional resources. If only you keep the customer’s needs in mind.

Need to know if doubling down on customer experience is worth your effort? Download our ebook on 'The ROI of Customer Experience' and find out!