by Stephen Pappas
CX Connoisseur

Steve Pappas is senior vice president and head of U.S. operations for Panviva US Group. He is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor and mentor who has built and sold several companies.

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7 Steps to Superior CX

“Customer experience (CX) is the new marketing battlefront.”
These are not the words of me, Stephen Pappas. That’s Gartner talking.

That’s right—the research and advisory leader is advising you to raise your CX game. They lay out the trend in their article, Key Findings From the Gartner Customer Experience Survey:

More than two-thirds of marketers responsible for CX say their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX, according to the 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey. And in two years’ time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.

I’ve helped scores of companies improve their customer experience, and I can tell you the handful of mistakes that were tripping them up. They had failed to follow these seven rules.

Let’s take them one by one.

Know your customer. 

Personas.

You have a lot of different customers approaching you for lots of different reasons. If you have not developed personas of your different customers, it’s time.

(If the concept of customer personas is new to you, a quick web search will discover how to create them. In a nutshell, a persona is a fictional person who represents an entire class of customers.)

The persona that represents a casual shopper will be different from the persona of the customer with a problem. You’ll do different things to deliver exceptional customer experience.

Journeys.
Part of knowing your customers is to map their journeys. Doing so will enable you to anticipate their needs and wants. Journey mapping will also tell you where to enhance CX. An in-store experience will differ from an email experience.

Channels.
How are customers finding you? Are they visiting stores? Calling on the phone? Emailing? Responding to your Twitter feed? Online chats? Map those customer channels!

Departments.
List the departments of your organization, and note whether each department does transactions with the customer, simply interacts with a customer, or acts on behalf of the customer, such as billing and credit and credentialing and provisioning. Then weigh those departments’ importance on a scale of one to three, with three being the most important. For example, if they talk every day, that's a three.

All departments are important for different reasons, but for overall customer experience, some are more important.

Gaps.
Once you figure out all that, analyze performance gaps. If you're starting with customer service, look at the top 10, 15, or 20 calls you take and how important each is to overall customer experience. It could be people coming in to have their tires rotated.

  • What's the contribution to the customer experience?

  • What happens if it goes wrong? Can it really detract from the experience?

  • If it goes right, can it be something that really pushes the experience over the top?

Also note whether representatives need access to information, which we’ll address in a moment.

Be where your customers are.

Allow customers the choice as to which channels they prefer to interact with your brand.

An omnichannel approach allows customers to interact and transact as they wish, even if it’s to chat with a bot at 2 a.m.

If your customers are using mobile devices—and who isn’t?—you need to be accessible via mobile. That means your website needs to be mobile-friendly, but it may also mean you should offer a mobile app for relevant information and transactions identified in Step 1 above. 

Develop a central knowledge and guidance system so you can bulldoze the multiple silos of information that confuse users and waste their efforts.

A single source of truth is a repository of all the policies, procedures and instructional guidance employees need to know exactly what they need to do, say or navigate (in apps) for the benefit of the customer.

The aim is to drive them to the realization that a single-source repository of information allows them to provide the best experience. In most transactions, company representatives have to look for information, then have to turn it into some type of action. Today, in most companies, access to information is used in almost 90% of all tasks.

In the pre-web days, the distance a customer had to travel made a difference in where she shopped. Today, distance is important, too, but it’s the distance between access to information and positive action that makes the difference.

Exceptional CX is based on making sure the information needed for the transaction is accessible, in the proper format.

Develop a single source of truth.

Develop a central knowledge and guidance system so you can bulldoze the multiple silos of information that confuse users and waste their efforts.

A single source of truth is a repository of all the policies, procedures and instructional guidance employees need to know exactly what they need to do, say or navigate (in apps) for the benefit of the customer.

The aim is to drive them to the realization that a single-source repository of information allows them to provide the best experience. In most transactions, company representatives have to look for information, then have to turn it into some type of action. Today, in most companies, access to information is used in almost 90% of all tasks.

In the pre-web days, the distance a customer had to travel made a difference in where she shopped. Today, distance is important, too, but it’s the distance between access to information and positive action that makes the difference.

Exceptional CX is based on making sure the information needed for the transaction is accessible, in the proper format.

Empower your employees.

Train and manage employees to be part of the CX solution, because they are closest to the customer and know best how to improve the customer experience.

Many CX solutions do a fine job of discovery, analysis, and mapping, but fall short when it comes to execution. In the throes of an interaction, no employee is going to take out a customer journey map to determine their next step. Employees need a simple mechanism that knows who they are and what they are attempting to do, and can provide actionable guidance the moment they need it.

The CX question is, How is call center agent No. 26 in Omaha, Nebraska, who has received a call from an irate customer, going to access and understand the information needed to resolve the call?

Are they going to take out a big process map from a drawer and say, “Ah, okay, now I can follow the logic flow here and know what to do, what to say and how to take care of the customer”?

No.

The same rule applies if a customer’s at the pharmacy with their child and they need an inhaler right away. Is the person behind the desk going to understand how to provide the best customer experience at that moment?

Customer experience has to be something that can be not only given into the hands of every employee, but given in such a way as to make that employee part of the overall CX solution.

Guide employees in the delivery of superior CX

Use guidance technology to have all employees continuously improving the overall experience.

Merely searching for information, Google style, falls short of the exceptional experience that makes for performance-boosting CX. For one thing, searches result in EVERY bit of information that includes the keywords, and you need the one, two, or three items necessary right now to provide the best experience.

Just as technology exists to organize knowledge, technology exists to feed the right knowledge at the right time.

In other words, the old days demanded extensive training to make exceptional call center agents and customer service representatives. Today, that training can be digitized and delivered as real-time guidance to your organization’s representatives.

 

Create a visible customer feedback loop.

Enable easy and near-real-time course corrections, and be more sympathetic to changes in customer behaviors.

For example, the Panviva platform encourages continuous improvement in two ways:

  1. Users put their own notes on it, such as “Remember to call Steve at extension 1234 before doing an international wire.” The admin sees such notes and can harvest that tribal knowledge for a better process.

  2. The feedback button enables user to rate processes and alert the Panviva admin of an issue. For example, a user may notice they get a better response when they ask for address before asking for a Social Security Number.

Armed with that insight to improve performance, the admin can revise the Panviva guidance to reflect that improved sequence.

In short, content is never done. You need feedback to improve it..

Make CX central to your culture.

Move to a more customer-centric model for your business.

Culture is a top-down phenomenon. When senior leadership includes CX among its reward criteria, the whole organization follows. (Consider the case of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in this Harvard Business Review article.) It’s not simply a matter of better technology.

That said, a word about IT: Developers and information technology teams definitely play a role in cultivating a culture of the customer. They need to be brought to the table to make superior CX possible. They need to be given the credit for providing the technological foundation of CX. Tech’s support of CX is as important as any training that takes place in marketing, sales, service, or any other team.

 

Conclusion
There you have it—the seven steps to a superior customer experience.

  1. Know your customer.

Develop multiple personas to better anticipate your customers’ needs and wants.

  1. Be where your customers are.

Allow customers the choice as to which channels they prefer to interact with your brand.

  1. Develop a single source of truth.

Develop a central knowledge and guidance system so you can bulldoze all your multiple silos of information.

  1. Empower your employees.

Train and manage employees to be part of the CX solution, because they are closest to the customer and know best how to improve the customer experience.

  1. Guide employees in the delivery of superior CX.

Use guidance technology to have all employees continuously improving the overall experience.

  1. Create a visible customer feedback loop.

Enable easy and near-real-time course corrections, and be more sympathetic to changes in customer behaviors.

  1. Make CX central to your culture.

Move to a more customer-centric model for your business.

And remember, CX is not a one-and-done process. It’s an evolution. No one gets it perfect the first time. It is a refining process with constant feedback and input to make the experience better.

Overwhelmed?

I admit, this is a lot of information. If you want to talk it through, feel free to get in touch. Email spappas@panviva.com

What kinds of organizations need to focus on CX?

An exceptional customer experience is more important to some organizations than it is to others. In my next blog post, I’ll show you what kinds of organizations are improving CX to get ahead of their competition

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