Keep the Lines of CX Communication Open

Keep the Lines of CX Communication Open

What’s in it for me? That’s the question key stakeholders will ask as you build your customer experience management (CEM) roadmap.

What they’re really asking is:

  • How will they or their team benefit?
  • What will they be expected to do differently—and at what cost in terms of time and effort?
  • And, how does their role link to customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty?

With the groundwork of your CEM program defined, it’s time for formal communications with your key stakeholders to answer those questions, and to gain their support as you implement your plans.

Who are those stakeholders? They’re the internal and external groups you’ve been surveying and analyzing all along; getting their input to ensure that your CEM efforts will be supported internally, and are as relevant to employees as they will be to customers. Of course, your stakeholders naturally are curious about what it all means to them, their team, and their workload.

Your CEM program sets expectations for process improvements in your customer- and employee-facing operations. You now must communicate those expectations broadly and repeatedly. This will help to ensure understanding, buy-in, and participation.

You also must communicate transparently the results of your CEM strategy. If you don’t share this information, you’ll lose credibility with your stakeholders. Not only will they be less likely to embrace the needed changes to meet the expectations set in your CEM program, but, without follow-up communication, they’ll be left to assume by your silence that the results of the company’s CEM efforts are negative.

Initially, not every component of your CEM strategy will meet its stated objectives. That’s OK. Those elements will likely improve over time with changes and adjustment. In fact, it’s important to communicate the planned changes so stakeholders can stay apprised of progress and improvements, and understand how these adjustments may impact their roles and responsibilities.

But, of course, there will be wins. So, you’ll have a compelling story to tell about those specific improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

You can use tools such as benchmarking and satisfaction studies to showcase your initial and ongoing successes to key internal and external audiences. You can also use these communications tools to further brand your CEM strategy and keep its momentum moving forward.

Remember: Transparency and frequent communication are essential to the short- and long-term success of your CEM efforts. Without those critical elements, your stakeholders will consider CEM as just another “program of the week” and revert to their easier and less customer-centric ways of operating.

 Communications to stakeholders is part of the CEMDNA Assess phase—along with win-back strategy and ROI—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Customer Journey Mapping the Road to Better Business Value

Customer Journey Mapping the Road to Better Business Value

Before technology grabbed hold of the customer experience, the path to purchase was typically linear. Customers entered the funnel and followed through to the end goal, the point of sale. But, now that consumers have countless ways to connect with prospective companies, leaders must guarantee that every touchpoint greets both current and potential customers with one consistent brand message. Customer journey mapping now stands as the essential tool for understanding consumer behavior in modern contexts.

While customer journey mapping was once reserved for simply pinpointing customer experience issues, companies are now putting this strategy at the heart of the development process. Many prior strategies failed to put the customer at the center of the planning process, but doing so at the onset promises to boost engagement and retention. However, not all brands have reached this stage at the present moment.

The CMO Council’s “Making Personalization Possible” report emphasizes that, while marketers recognize that comprehensive customer journey mapping (44 percent) represents the future for successful, long-term customer relationships, deep understanding of each individual customer doesn’t come easy. While the majority of marketers—86 percent—are unable to personalize experiences across the entire customer journey, many can now better tie such engagements to business impact by focusing on improving retention (69 percent) and acquisition (62 percent) rates. However, only 29 percent of marketers agree that an omnichannel approach to customer engagement holds the key to long-term relationships, despite the fact that this holistic method has become the backbone for effective journey mapping.

For those grappling with the intricacies of customer journey mapping, companies must ask four crucial questions as they develop their analytical strategy:

  1. Which channels do our customers prefer?
  2. How does customer sentiment compare at these various touchpoints?
  3. What inspires customers to choose one channel over another?
  4. How are we interacting with customers on each channel?

Successful journey mapping requires equal parts internal and external analysis, as assessing this level of incoming data will be rendered null and void if the brand itself doesn’t have the correct processes in place behind the scenes. Determining customer pain points might offer guidance, but said information serves little purpose if companies don’t have the appropriate protocols for response established. Leaders must also realize that issues need to be identified and rectified in real time. Everything’s instantaneous now, and customers pursue relationships with companies that demonstrate competency and concern at every stage of their overall journey.

For each moment of truth, brands must be ready, willing, and able to service customers. Sure, it seems daunting to position customer service representatives at every available touchpoint, but there’s no longer one or two points of entry where the customer journey begins. Instead, today’s journey seems more like a maze—there may be more than one starting point, but only one path leads to the desired destination. Leaders must ensure that consumers don’t hit any roadblocks along the way.

Brands must also establish one unified brand message to stand guard at each possible moment of truth. Like people, companies have one opportunity to make their best first impression. If one or more channels fail to maintain this level of consistency, brands risk losing business from any prospect that enters the pipeline at said touchpoints. Analyzing the interactions that take place at each touchpoint will better equip team members to handle future engagements, as they’ll be familiar with potential problems and prepared to take the next-best action in cases where issues arise. Operations cannot possibly run smoothly 24/7, so it’s proactive and practical to teach all employees how to manage these contact channels in the case of crisis or dissatisfaction.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to customer journey mapping or its subsequent back-end adjustments and improvements. However, its underlying value remains undisputed. If brands wish to truly embody the concept of customer-centric DNA—the pinnacle of modern CX for today’s leading companies—leaders must tailor their technique to correspond with the wants and needs of their customers. Journey mapping, though often belated, presents brands with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into every aspect of the overarching customer experience.

Customer experience management ultimately serves as the cornerstone for successful journey mapping endeavors. Without an efficient, long-term CEM strategy, it’s almost impossible to put customer data to good use. Technology has only inflated the volume of Big Data insights, so it’s up to every given company to determine their current CEM maturity level in context with today’s evolving behaviors. Employee involvement, however, can give less advanced brands the upper hand in this highly competitive environment.

Internal branding now stands as one of the greatest differentiators across all industries. Outward relationships depend upon an internal culture that not only puts the consumer first, but also puts employees n the driver’s seat. By establishing an internal culture that highlights each employee’s impact on the customer experience, customer centricity isn’t just learned—it’s lived throughout the entire organization. Internal branding brings the desire for unified messaging to the frontlines, as employees recognize that they hold the power to make or break customer relationships.

Thus, customer journey mapping provides insight into consumer behaviors, which influences the way employees uphold brand promise, which in turn, circles back to the customer experience. Everything’s intertwined, but it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to manage and maintain CX. Customer centricity will always be the key ingredient for satisfying, long-term relationships, but it’s up to each brand whether to serve it up hot or cold.

About the Authors

Dennis Gershowitz is founder and principal of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. Contact Dennis at dennisg@dgassociates.net

 

Bill Moore is VP of CRMI. He designs and delivers CEM best practices workshops, as well as CEMPRO employee loyalty, training and retention programs, that result in the increasing customer satisfaction, employee retention, and profitability for CRMI clients.

Weaving CEM Into the Fabric of an Organization

CEM and Employee Engagement

The overall objective of any customer experience management (CEM) strategy is to evolve your organization’s DNA to the point where it is entirely customer driven. That’s not going to happen without a robust change management program.

CEMDNA Change Management is one approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state where customer experience is not a primary focus to a desired, future state where the customer is central to all decision making. The approach involves implementing organizational processes designed to encourage stakeholders to accept and embrace customer centricity in their business environment. These include:

Management coaching: Senior business leaders can’t just expect managers to suddenly manage differently because of a decree of customer centricity. Managers need to be trained on how to implement CEM within their team, as well as on any related skills. What the training will entail should be based on your CEM strategy and the specific objectives of any related CEM programs.

Benchmarking: Use best practices examples from your existing customer interactions to showcase your preferred future state. This will demonstrate to employees that customer centricity not only is possible, but also is an established, successful approach that savvy employees are already using.

Measurement: Set performance metrics, such as financial results and operational efficiencies, to guide the change efforts. Also create and track goals for leadership commitment and the effectiveness of internal communications related to the CEM change management efforts.

Process tracking: It’s essential to monitor the progress of your CEM change management efforts. This will allow you to see where you’re succeeding, as well as where you’re stalling. In case of the latter, you’ll be able to quickly uncover the cause of the situation and resolve it to allow for continued forward momentum.

Team coaching: Consider external coaching on the job and soft skills needed for customer centricity to be a part of your organizational DNA. But just as important, ensure that managers are trained well enough to provide initial and continued coaching on the skills most important to the CEM transformation and to ongoing customer centricity.

 CEMDNA change management is part of the Act phase—along with corrective action and employee engagement—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

A natural result of benchmarking your current state customer experience against your CX goals is change. Of course, you’ll need to make changes to your customer experience management strategy over the short and long term. But, remember, an essential part of that planning is determining how you’ll respond to issues that customers raise—especially concerns raised by high-value clients. That’s what we’ll focus on here.

Take these five steps to get your customer-focused corrective action plans in place.

Prepare a corrective action plan – Corrective action plans address critical external customer issues. Formulate your plans with two goals in mind: quickly responding to key accounts based up their experience and issues that emerge; addressing internal systemic issues that negatively impact customer-related processes. The latter are often discovered in addressing the former.

Create closed-loop Action Alerts A critical element of a corrective action plan is to “close the loop” on every action needed. Create alerts that allow you to track the progress of actions taken to resolve immediate customer concerns, as well as address larger systemic issues. This will enable you to be sure that issues are attended to and resolved. Or, they’ll alert you to take any further action required.

Build in accountability for results Assign responsibility to frontline and management-level personnel to carry out the corrective action plans. Clearly delineate their objectives and roles in taking immediate corrective action, as well as recommending solutions to longer-term systemic issues.

Verify and communicate results Develop a system that allows you to verify that the corrective actions taken have resolved customer issues. For immediate concerned raised by a customer (especially a key account), be proactive and reach out to other customers who may have experienced the same issue and present your solution.

Additionally, confirm internally that you’ve address any systemic problems that caused the more immediate issues in the first place. Action Alerts are essential to this process.

Once you’ve verified that an immediate concern or systemic issue has been resolved, communicate that out to key stakeholders. Those stakeholders may include customers affected by the issue, account managers, sales or customer service leaders, employees in teams related to the issue.

Review the plan – Your corrective action plan should be flexible enough to evolve over time. Examine your plan’s progress and results on a quarterly basis and make appropriate changes to the plan based on that insight.

Corrective action is part of the Act phase—along with employee engagement and change management—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Welcome to the New CRMI

It is the Age of CX. Delivering a consistently superior customer experience (CX) has become table stakes. CRMI has championed that concept since its founding in 1999, and now – as CX becomes a strategic imperative for more and more companies – is taking its mission to a new level.

The New CRMI is a membership-based resource that is intended to be your one-stop shop for “Everything CX.” Whether you are new to CX strategy and implementation or a veteran practitioner, as a CRMI Member you will join thousands of like-minded professionals who are eager to learn the latest advances in CX strategy and enabling technologies – and share their experiences in guiding their organizations to the pinnacle of CX success.

Vendors with technology and solutions that fuel the CX marketplace are an important part of the CX ecosystem. Those vendors who are CRMI partners recognize that members are a qualified, highly knowledgeable audience that is constantly seeking the latest innovations to help bring CX perfection to their contact centers, tech support groups, help desks, field service organizations, and other customer-facing operations. So, with our new CX Lab, CRMI Members can test drive these vendors’ solutions and contact them directly for more information.

CX and training consultants and other service providers complete the ecosystem; there’s a directory with information on many of these experts on the New CRMI. Our consulting partners are well versed in the tenets of CX and CRMI’s CEMDNA Playbook Strategy. Consequently, they’ll be able to provide assistance with your specific CX needs.

So, welcome to the New CRMI. Please explore all of the information available on our website – from content and conferences to webcasts and workshops to training and certification, and more. Also be sure to bookmark our homepage and visit often because we’ll be posting new content and events frequently.

We’re all about “Everything CX” and look forward to exploring this exciting ever-evolving domain together.

5 Keys to Maintaining Customers Relationships

Consumers and B2B purchasers are spoiled for choice. Nearly any product or service they desire is available at the click of a button, in a 100-page catalog, or a short drive away. And they’re spending on those wants and needs. Consider: Retail sales grew 3.8% in 2016 and is predicted to increase between 3.7 and 4.2% in 2017, according to National Retail Federation. And the Institute for Supply Management predicts manufacturing revenue to increase 4.6% and B2B non-manufacturing revenue to increase 4.1% this year, as well.

But that doesn’t guarantee growth for sellers. In fact, while some companies thrive, others stall or fail completely. What do these growth companies do differently than their less successful counterparts? Businesses that flourish tend to use five key strategies to customer engagement and interactions, laying the groundwork for customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

1. Engage, Engage, Engage

Customers want to be served, but they also want to be noticed. They don’t want to feel as if they’re consumers first and people second. In a retail or B2B setting, don’t just pitch the company’s wares; strike up a conversation with the customer and actively listen to what they’re saying. Respond to their questions or comments in detail. This will give them a sense of belonging and help to build trust.

2. Be Available

You never know when your customers are going to need you. B2C businesses should have multiple touchpoints for service, including chat, social, and traditional contact centers. B2B companies will see significant benefits from monthly courtesy calls to their high-value customers, just to check in. Send customers relevant content, such as links to how-to articles, industry news, and product updates. If you’re available to your customers when they need you, they won’t turn to a competitor.

3. Take Advice

You’re never going to survive as a business if you don’t take customer feedback to heart. Feedback helps to highlight problems and opportunities that those within the organization might never notice. Being attentive and concerned, acting on customer input wherever possible, and keeping customers apprised of your actions and outcomes communicates to customers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep their business.

4. Keep Improving

It’s not possible to make every single customer happy all the time. But if you continuously work to improve your customer experience and always aim for fairness and satisfaction, you’ll come out ahead. Complacency is not an option in today’s customer-driven markets.

5. Focus on the Experience

One of the biggest mistakes that a company makes is attributing customer satisfaction to customer loyalty. It’s more complicated than that. Satisfied customers often leave for a competitor that offers a better customer experience—however customers define it: better service, product, price, attentiveness or responsiveness, etc. Customers are driven by their buying experience. So, understand what aspects of your customer experience keeps them loyal to your company and continue to focus on and excel in those areas.

3 Ways Customer Surveys Will Benefit Your Business

A successful business needs honest feedback from its customers to evaluate how well those customers’ needs are being met. But customer feedback should be far more than a generic gauge of customer satisfaction. Obtaining customer input is a valuable way to hear firsthand what customers think of your customer experience, products, and services, as well as how to improve them. Just as important, asking customers for their feedback builds customer loyalty and increases retention.

Here are three key benefits of using customer surveys as an information gatherer and relationship builder.

Detailed Insight

The number one benefit of customer surveys is gathering customers’ honest opinions about various facets of your business. Surveys can help you gain insight into how the customer feels about your company and the experience you deliver. Asking the right questions will help you determine, for example, how much customers value the products or services you offer, which provides additional insight into their likelihood to switch providers. Surveys can be an outlet for customers to share detailed feedback not only on products and services, but also on everything from customer service and sales interactions to billing and shipping to ad campaigns and the website experience. Surveys also can help identify potential areas for growth.

Long-term View

Surveys can be repeated. Running a survey multiple times with a defined control will provide you with data ready for comparative analysis. As you collect more surveys, you will have more data to draw deeper analysis and conclusions about your business. Over time, the data will not only reveal important and perhaps unexpected trends, but also may uncover changes you did not anticipate.

Commitment to the Customer

Asking for feedback shows customer commitment, which helps build loyalty and trust—especially if it’s clear to customers how their feedback will be used. If customers’ values, opinions, and feelings are important to your company, demonstrate that by involving customers in ensuring and improving the quality of your products or services. Their input can uncover opportunities for improvements or expansion that you might not have discovered otherwise. And using their feedback is a powerful way to build engagement and loyalty if you close the loop and communicate back to customers the ways that you’ve acted on (and plan to act on) their input and the outcomes of doing so.

Are You Ready for Customer Experience Management?

Customer centricity will only take hold when it’s woven into the fabric of an organization. And that will happen only when customer experience management (CEM) is embedded into a company’s entire operations.

Getting to the point where CEM is a part of a company’s DNA takes time. There are five key areas to examine to determine what actions to take and improvements to make to embed customer centricity in an organization. These comprise CMRI’s Road Map to CEMDNA.

Review current business performance: This includes all operations that contribute to revenue, costs, and profits. Which ones are most directly tied to CEM? Consider dynamics such as growth, retention, win-back, and return on investment (ROI).

Determine current CEM maturity level: Review the actions in the chart below to determine whether your organization is reactive, tentative, engaged, or customer centric. Knowing your starting point is vital to setting CEM objectives and measuring progress and results.

Conduct management interviews: Interview key senior leaders in all customer-facing areas of the business. Doing so is critical to achieving buy-in on CEM processes and building consensus on the key CEM objectives.

Draft vision and mission statements: These shared principles are essential to making CEM part of your organizational DNA. Vision and mission statements should include customer-centric language to maintain a consistent focus on your CEM goals.

Set long-term goals: Based on your current CEM maturity level and the findings from the management interviews, set realistic, achievable goals for a CEM implementation. Create a detailed timetable for achieving each objective within the implementation.

Brand the CEM program: Show that CEM isn’t just the initiative of the month by branding it; for example, “Customers First.” Branding your CEM activities will make the initiative more memorable, help to ensure high visibility and long-term commitment, and set it up for a successful outcome. It also helps to rally support among stakeholders, include employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and channel partners.

Road Map to CEMDNA is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.