Great customer experiences don't happen by accident
Good news, bad news
We recently had the honour of welcoming Nienke Bloem to our Hello Customer customer day. Bloem is a world-renowned customer experience expert and speaker. She immediately set the tone of her keynote with the main message for the audience: "Great customer experiences don't happen by accident.”
"Customer experience is your customer's perception of all interactions throughout the customer journey and across all channels. That's good news and bad news." Good news because you can influence that perception by making improvements and showing your customers that you are doing something with their feedback. Bad news because it is often difficult for organizations to actively work on that perception.
The 6 Pillars of Customer Experience
But how can companies address that perception and improve their customer experience? To this end, Bloem works with a CX framework consisting of 6 pillars that serve as steps in a company's CX transformation.
Strategy is the first step because you want to determine if your current customer experience is good. If your organization doesn’t determine this, then you can put as many resources and time into CX as you want but you will miss out on many insights and improvements. So first of all, work on what you want to offer your customers.
"To me, this is very much about the desired customer experience, including your customer promises and goals. Your customer promises revolve around your company's identity. You need to ask yourself here: 'What are we promising customers?'. A good and clear answer is crucial because if you don't provide it, your employees will look for an answer themselves." When creating your customer promises, start with having a look at what experience is the most important for your customers. There are two things that are important when responding to what your customers are saying: uniqueness and consistency. "That uniqueness shines through in a good brand promise and associated customer promises, reflecting who you are and what you stand for. If you define who you want to be, make sure you do this consistently."
A great example Bloem cited in her keynote is the airline Emirates. Their brand promise is "Fly Better," which means they put comfort and attention to detail at the forefront of the customer experience they deliver. They are also very consistent in this. Their employees provide a flight full of comfort, customer service and fun extras. So customers know what they can count on Emirates for; comfort, class and luxury. On the other hand, many people just choose Ryanair. Their brand promise is "Low fares, made simple." And that's true. Ryanair customers don't choose that airline because they get great food and champagne, they choose it because they get to their destination quickly and cheaply. "Both a plane, both flying from A to B, but they make you have a completely different feeling. And that's the essence."
A CX program alone won't get you much if you don't get insights from it. You get those insights from feedback. That is why it is important to listen to the Voice of the Customer AND to show that you are listening. "If a customer notices that their opinion matters and that you do something with their feedback, they will be more inclined to complete your surveys a second and third time as well. That way you can improve and innovate from the customer’s perspective!"
During Bloem's flight with Emirates, the flight attendant asked if there was anything she could have done better. This a great question for a CX expert. Bloem answered them as well and filled out the feedback form afterwards. To that, she received a comprehensive and detailed response, first of all thanking her for sharing her feedback and that her comments were passed on to the person in charge of service delivery. "The feeling that they are doing something with my feedback is what matters. Will I fill it out again next time? For sure!"
"How do you prove you're doing it right? With metrics, with numbers. If you want to take out issues, you need to have a good metrics program." Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score and Customer Effort Score are good pillars to work on your customer experience. "Above all, start working with the knowledge and expertise you get from platforms like Hello Customer in combination with the metrics."
Not every metric is useful for the same function. NPS targets the future, while CSAT and CES reflect the past. So getting the touchpoints right is important. That's why it's best to set goals that you use to drive the business forward.
4. Customer Journey
“The customer journey is all about innovating. How do you want to improve? Have a look at your customer journey and touchpoints and remove whatever's not relevant anymore. That’s what you start with.”
You can get a clear overview of your touchpoints by creating a customer journey map. There’s often a CX team, but even people who don't interact with customers should be able to answer a key question, "What do I contribute to the customer journey? "If everyone in the company can answer this, at least you can already see when and where your interactions are taking place." With that knowledge and the insights you gain from each interaction, you can go on to improve your customer experience. "Customer journeys are only successful when the customer notices improvements.”
The second last pillar deals with the organization of the customer experience: customer experience management. This involves organizing valuable customer experiences throughout your customer journey across all channels. "What's important to me? This is: What is valuable? 'Valuable’ should have two elements, value for the customer and value for the organization."
What some companies are doing, and what Bloem also recommends, is engaging executives and C-level employees with customers. "Getting leaders to actually engage with customers is crucial for your plans to succeed. Currently, that's also the biggest hurdle. Many executives believe that the CX should be handled by other people, and that's a barrier. Once you’ve fixed this, everything will fly. People within the company know so much more than your customers, that’s why you have to stay curious. Don't be a know-it-all, be a learn-it-all."
Bloem shared her experience at a company that understands this: Aegon, where every employee - even those who don't interact with customers - rotates in customer service one day a year. That's how they earn a customer driving license. "You have to think of things that require employees to come into contact with customers," she said.
Customer experience must live in the whole company. Although it gets pretty messy if everyone is responsible for CX, as is sometimes said. Usually, a CX team is responsible for everything that revolves around customer experience, but leaders also demonstrate customer-centric behaviour. By motivating and giving direction to your employees, you can engage everyone in the customer journey. As a manager or person in charge, you can be clear and give direction on what you expect. "You take care of the physical part, and thanks to your motivation and instructions, your people know what they are going to do. Great customer experiences don't happen by accident."
The culture of your company and how customer-centric your employees are has a lot of impact on the customer experience you deliver. Fairphone is a company where that culture is well played. They have taken a structural approach to their customer experience by implementing not only a customer-centric approach but also an employee-centric approach. This keeps CX top-of-mind throughout the whole company.
"When is a customer experience good or great? Many organizations haven’t described this very well. And if you don't know that as an organization, what should you expect as a customer?" So, a great customer experience is not achieved in a day. It requires several steps of CX transformation, involving all kinds of employees and teams. Create awareness within your company and put customer satisfaction at the centre of all teams, not just the CX team. Listen to your customers and act on what they say. "When you really get into it, it becomes so much fun!”
Net Promoter Score, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered U.S. Trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.
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