Customer Experience in 2021; Journey or Quest?
Many businesses think they are great at CX. However, there is a well-known statistic that says that 80% of businesses believe they provide “superior” customer service, but only 8% of customers say they’re getting it! So why is there such a significant gap between reality and perception?
In a recent ‘Ask Camelot’ event, ‘Customer Experience in 2021; Journey or Quest?’, The Camelot Network’s Customer Experience and Outcomes Think Tank explored some of the key challenges surrounding customer experience and shared some fantastic practical advice on how to ensure your customer experience and outcomes set you apart.
Aligning your needs with that of the customer.
Understanding your customers on a human level is perhaps one of the most understated aspects of CX. But how do you do this?
A big question, but a somewhat simple answer. You need to speak to your customers and find out what actually matters to them. Not what mattered to them last year, or even last week, but what matters to them now. Especially given the curveballs that 2020 has thrown our way, relying on old data is a sure-fire way to miss the mark on customer experience and expectations. Put simply, people’s priorities, routines, wishes, habits, fears and needs have changed and will continue to do so. Successful businesses will be the ones that really understand their customers in the moment. Context is paramount.
Practically, this means doing more than asking simple questions like ‘How was your stay?’ and finding more creative ways to elicit the honest and valuable information you need. A great example of this could be to ask ‘How did the staff at the Hotel make you feel?’ as this will provide some deeper insights into emotional and sensory connections which will likely be more powerful drivers of experience than simple rational scoring.
Showcasing your authenticity.
But merely understanding and anticipating your customer needs is no longer going to cut it. Sleek online experience, accessible language and efficient service are quickly becoming a basic requirement, not a luxury.
Companies need to go one step further to carry themselves in a way that engenders respect and trust; in other words, the way they handle themselves will be paramount. Authenticity, empathy, strong ethics and transparency will make or break businesses.
Customers also understand that things go wrong and they are more likely to forgive you if you demonstrate how you recover situations by being honest and -simply-helpful.
In short, to be awesome at CX, it is no longer about what you do, It is HOW you do it that will stand you apart.
Regulation is your CX champion, not your excuse.
With regulation shifting more and more to protect the interest of the customer and promote genuinely positive customer experience , there are no grounds for hiding behind it. Your customers simply will not buy the ‘computer says no’ approach anymore (if they ever did before!).
Make sure your team is actually on your team.
One of the key commonalities among organisations who do CX well is passionate staff. This comes from the top down and begins with senior employees. Recognising the achievements of different employees within an organisation is something which can occasionally be overlooked in the busyness of business. However, its capacity to drive innovation and enhance customer experience should never be underestimated. Motivating your team brings out the best in them and induces greater productivity, improved creativity and subsequently, a stronger and more collaborative overall drive, with an inevitable positive knock-on effect for your customers as well. More than ever before, catch your team doing the “right” thing. Trust them. Empower them. Hire empathetic problem solvers. Your customers will certainly benefit.
Having a company-wide belief system in place, which your staff adhere to whole-heartedly, will create more meaningful and memorable experiences for customers.
Make it personal.
It is important to remind the customer that you are there for them in all stages of the journey. Being approachable in this way means not only how you communicate to that person, but in how you listen and tailor your offering to the needs of the individual. It goes without saying that people love efficient, high-quality service. But the most successful brands out there have also adopted personalisation as an ingrained part of their ethos.
People like to be thought of as people, not as a number.
The Power of Memory.
Humans are complex and we remember things for a number of complex reasons; how something made you feel, how it aligned with your beliefs, how it supported your aspirations and these can be more powerful forces than how many rings it took for somebody to answer your call or how quickly they responded to your email.
It is also true that the human mind tends to hold onto experiences which are significant in some way, whether good or bad.
When drilling into feedback from your customers, it is important to distinguish between remembered and actual experience. People are more likely to remember (and let you know about!) the one-off negative experience, when in reality their overall customer experience may have been very positive. It’s important to take the whole picture into account and to listen to the masses and the patterns, rather than zooming in on one comment and overreacting.
Controversially, the individual customer may not always be right… but the collective voice of numerous customers telling you the same thing undoubtedly is!
Technology – be wise!
There is lots of noise out there suggesting that the only road to success is digitalisation. It’s important to see beyond the hype and work out the best uses of technology for your customers, along with where the human touch is absolutely crucial.
When you do adopt a digital solution, make sure it is because it is genuinely going to enhance the experience of your customers, rather than just as a cost-saving initiative. Always hang your decisions on actual evidence about your actual customers and what they actually want.
The importance of a strategy.
Having a CX strategy in place shapes your processes around CX, creating a more structured way of going about the customer experience, that is proven to reap stronger results. It’s the thing that makes it a journey, not a quest; there is a plan and a defined destination. The particular initiatives and campaigns within a CX strategy will vary from organisation to organisation but ensuring everyone involved is clear on the ‘why’ and has a say in the ‘how’ is key for getting the whole company on board and enthused. Taking on diverse points of view and including everyone in the process of developing the CX strategy will help to further innovate and refine it.
At the risk of being repetitive… It is particularly vital to incorporate a sense of authenticity and strong communication in your CX strategy. There is power in transparency, especially as your customers can often see through ingenuity.
- Find out what truly matters to your customers and how to measure it
- Agree CX “Customer first” strategy that drives your Business Strategy (rather than the other way around!)
- Engage ALL of your stakeholders (including marketing, operations, compliance, IT etc)
- Assign a budget and a senior sponsor – someone to drive this and keep it on the priority list
- Build a business case to deliver a) good CX and b) amazing CX (a stretch target)
- Review the impacts and continually adjust to keep it relevant
CX is a complex topic and the approach will always vary between organisations, but here are a few of the top take-aways from the digital event to help you take steps for enhanced customer experience in 2021:
- Don’t copy others, find out what matters to your customers. Your product or service is unique (or should be!), so your customer experience goals and strategy should be unique also.
- Ask your customers the right questions, don’t rely on existing data and assumptions. Continually review the strategy. Look for the hidden drivers and try to establish what really matters to your audience.
- Ensure that your CX programme underpins your business strategy, your regulatory controls and your operational framework. CX is relevant across the organisation and must be linked to outcomes.
- Consider outcomes (results) equally to experience (sentiment), and pay attention to more than just the remembered experiences.
- Ensure meaningful collaboration between all the stakeholders
- Be honest with yourself – the easiest initiatives are not always the most effective ones!
- Be human-centred: invest in technology and in your people
- It is a journey, a marathon,…you will need stamina, passion and be prepared to fail!
Never forget that, behind big strategies and processes, there is an individual who genuinely wants to buy your product and is expecting, like any positive relationship, that their experience with you will be consistent, meaningful, straightforward and respectful.
Quest or journey? It is a fascinating life journey and if you get it right, it makes the world of difference.
This whitepaper builds on themes discussed in a recent ‘Ask Camelot’ event hosted by Camelot’s Customer Experience Think Tank.
You can view the whole event here:
Andy specialises in Regulatory Strategy, and is skilled at translating regulatory conduct expectations into simple, practical solutions that deliver tangible value through collaboration and partnership.
Andy is a Transformation Leader with 20 years+ of operational improvement experience and has delivered CX strategies for organisations across a range of industries.
Stéphanie is an award-winning, dynamic and passionate Senior Executive with extensive “hands-on” experience in CX across many environments B2B, B2C, Corporates and start-ups.