Books and Workshops to build and sustain customer focus and service excellence throughout your entire organization.
By Eric Fraterman
Enhance your Customers’ Experience and sharpen your Customer Focus to differentiate your organization and build long-term loyalty and profitability.
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The dream: How good would it feel if all your dealings with your suppliers were consistently satisfying and effective… no matter how, when, or with whom you connected? No matter as an individual or as a representative of your company?
Oh bliss! But we all know that often the reality is far off. Indeed, many companies do have lofty aspirations in this direction. Unfortunately quite often they appear to be 'day dreaming in technicolour' and be unaware of what is really happening and of the impact this has. Leading consulting firm Peppers & Rogers confirms: The challenge is to provide each customer with a consistent and relevant experience that drives customer advocacy and profitability, in a relationship of trust.
Let's establish that we are dealing here with managing the Customer Experience. According to U.K.-based BeyondPhilosophy, the customer experience is: …a blend of an organization’s physical performance, the senses stimulated and emotions evoked, each intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.
We view great customer experiences as:
Today’s customers are becoming more demanding, determined and often drive a hard bargain. They utilize multiple channels and touch points to interact with organizations.
B2C and B2B companies alike now realize the need to provide consistent experiences for their customers across different channels. If the customer experiences during interactions with your organization are consistent and positive, and expectations are exceeded, then value is created. These are preconditions for nurturing a long lasting and profitable relationship and for the customers to become truly loyal and committed. Such customers often also act as an advocate and active source of recommendations for the company. Hence, managing the customer experience towards sustained customer loyalty and commitment is a key driver of profitability.
While by now there is wide awareness of the loyalty –> profitability causal relationship, it is worth pointing at some related and underlying facts and statistics, from reputable resources, which reflect today's realities:
Fortunately, more and more is being written and done about Customer Experience Management to turn the dream description I opened with into reality for an increasing number of organizations. An effective and emerging tool to help an organization provide its customers with the experience it wants them to have is Customer Journey Mapping, or CJM.
Like so many customer-centred approaches, the concept of Customer Journey Mapping is simple. However, turning it into reality for sustainable and breakthrough success is not simple: it involves organizational alignment, and we all know how challenging it is to tear down silo walls and have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Many articles related to CRM have dealt with such issues.
A year ago, when I 'Googled' "customer journey mapping", most results related to the travel industry. Today, more results are related to Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Customer Journey Mapping (CJM); although, there are more mentions of conferences and articles on the topic than actual service offerings.
Google also unearths this succinct definition of CJM: "A tool for visualizing how customers interact with an organization across multiple channels and touch points at each stage of the customer lifecycle (or part of it). It provides an insight into both functional and emotional needs, a map of the interactions that take place and the emotions created at each touch point. It provides a factual basis to manage change."
In its simplest form, the Customer Journey is the cycle of the relationship/buying interaction between the customer and the organization (“what we put our customers through if they wish to, and do, do business with us”). This customer life cycle usually starts when the customer wants or needs to buy a product or service and will continue to the point where the product is reclaimed, redeemed or renewed. The organization’s aim is to manage this "journey" in such a manner that maximizes value both for the customer and for the organization.
Thus, CJM is a systematic approach designed to help organizations understand:
Altogether CJM provides a map that helps an organization find its way through uncharted territory - a comprehensive view of the brand from the customer’s viewpoint at all touch points. If an organization is serious about differentiating its offerings in a marketplace driven by customer demand, it simply cannot ignore the negative impact that a disjointed, inconsistent and piecemeal customer experience will have on its business. The following activities are typically involved in a successful CJM program:
As is usually the case with new approaches based on existing practices and concepts, CJM has both new and old/familiar elements:
Negative experiences occur typically if the company is at the centre of the universe and the customer is at the end of its processes, with each division or process seeing the customer from its own perspective. Some people call this 'Silo-itis'. My observation is that often 'the real enemy is within' and less so the competition. Overcoming Silo-it is requires cross-functional involvement in process design and implementation, with the voice of the customer and the experience built in.
Through mapping the Customer Journey, the organization will understand the touch points at which it interacts with the customer. These Moments of Truth reflect how the contact between the customer and organization takes place, for example which media (paper, internet, telephone) and the possible outcomes of the contact (levels of customer satisfaction, feelings and perceptions). Therefore, it is necessary to (often intuitively) measure the customer experience for key Moments of Truth —performance versus objective—for each material group of customers. In my experience this requires a departure from traditional measurement and research methods. It calls for experimentation and not just listening to the customer but also to the front line employee. Listening, listening, and listening is the key to success.
I pointed out that the brand proposition and brand essence needs to be reflected throughout the life cycle and the touch points occurring. This means understanding and ownership of the brand throughout the organization. The reality is that in most organizations Marketing owns the brand. Therefore, a major paradigm shift needs to occur to achieve true success.
Since so much of the experience, and especially the emotive part, is delivered by people it is critical that the organization hires the (front line) people with the right competencies. However, this experience management needs to be part of the organization's DNA and, throughout the organization, the right people need to be hired and promoted. In my customer focus consulting experience one of the most difficult success factors to realize is the true alignment between People Management and Customer Management: getting the right people, with the right aptitude and the right behaviours throughout the organization. External and internal customer service are co-dependant and therefore both important.
A key related issue is, of course, leadership. No organization can rise above its leadership. Managers have to learn to also lead from the heart so customer experience leadership that consistently delivers flawless transactions and the right 'feeling' to customers becomes a way of life that comes naturally to the organization. Think only of SouthWest Airlines and The Four Seasons.
There is one frequently occurring barrier to overcome for making CJM successful: In too many organizations "technology reigns" and the CRM system is the tail that wags the dog.
In the final analysis, the devil is in the detail. Jan Carlson, long-time CEO of SAS airlines and the person who coined the expression Moment of Truth, is on record as saying: "You must manage the dickens out of each and every Moment of Truth."
To help you reflect on how your organization is doing I would like to leave you with this short checklist.
Does your organization know…
Bon voyage on your customer experience improvement journey.