Peter Kim from Forrester’s talks about “Turning Customer Experience Into A Competitive Weapon”.
New Forrester research with American Banker indicates that 97% of banking executives indicate that focusing on customer experience is important to competitiveness over the next three years.
So they all agreed that it is important to focus on, 97% of them. Here is what I think the trouble is: “the customer experience” is not something that is defined, so it becomes “something we really should do more about”. The struggle is that unless you define what it comprises you can’t effectively improve it.
It is a struggle because “The Customer Experience” is impacted by every part of the business; it doesn’t fit into a neat box like “customer service”, “sales” or “delivery”. And it is a lot more than “customer satisfaction” which only measures what you are currently doing, not what you should be doing.
For us as customers, “the customer experience” is as much about how easy it is to find, evaluate and buy a product or service as it is about how easy it is to read your bill. “Improving the customer experience” is just as much about innovative ways to enhance that product, provide new payments options, offering more distribution points, and the list goes on.
So the question is, who in the company is both responsible and empowered to look at all aspects of the customer experience? Is it the marketing department? Should it be? Peter Kim has some good suggestions, like hiring a CMO, but I’ve got a feeling that a lot of companies would hesitate to hire another senior manager without a clear understanding what it is they would be managing. Maybe a simply first step is to have a task force with representation from all parts of the company to determine what it means for your business.
Peter also suggests a “Voice of the Customer” program, which is an excellent idea if it is set up in a practical, manageable way so it is something medium and small businesses can manage as well as large corporate organisations.
In any case, the first step would have to be to actually determine what comprises “the customer experience”, because it certainly is a lot more than customer satisfaction.
I am sure there are companies out there who have this sorted, but I’m equally sure they are in the minority. I would love to hear stories of companies that really address this well; maybe your customers, or a company you have worked for. What is your experience?