Steps to Become a Customer Experience Professional

It is amazing how many companies are so disconnected from their customer’s actual experiences. They have no idea how far away their employees are from their values, mission and vision. When you make the investments in a Customer Service Charter, create a mission, vision and values….have a retreat and get the buy in from your leadership team for disbursement and immersion with your employees and then the customer comes along and is treated with disrespect and disregard! What next………

I witnessed a customer being dealt with in the most inhumane way while visiting a local auto parts store. While awaiting the customer service representative to look at some sample parts that I had taken in, I overheard a customer getting on that he was not being dealt with and then moments later – I saw the cashier bring his receipt and cash and throw it across the window with the money and receipt falling. The customer got even more irate and walked away in disarray! I was a bit shaken by what I witnessed as well and wondered to myself – “What is happening here?”

Moments before the incident occurred – I remember seeing a portrait of the company’s core values, mission and vision and I thought to myself – these are just simply words on paper with no real action to support it! As an employee in any business – living the core values of the company must be seen in everything that you do!

Businesses operate in an experience economy

Let’s start with why this stuff matters. According to Forrester, over an eight-year period from 2007 to 2014, the total stock returns of CX leaders outperformed both a portfolio of CX laggards and the S&P 500. Simply put, we are in an experience economy, where competitive positioning and a premium pricing advantage is enjoyed by companies that are able to effectively create intense and lasting relationships with their customers through intentional, positive and consistent experiences.

The beauty of differentiating on the experience you provide customers is that experiences are more difficult to copy and commoditize than products or services, which creates differentiation in the marketplace that actually lasts. Despite the value to be had, only 26 percent of companies have a well-developed strategy in place for improving the customer experience, despite the fact that 86 percent of consumers would gladly pay more for a better customer experience.

8 steps to becoming a Customer Experience (CX) Professional

So where and how should you get started? As I mentioned, many organizations have been living and breathing customer experience for many years and have developed highly-sophisticated teams and technology to enable the experience they strive to provide.

If you are like company I mentioned above that have the theory with no actual experience then here are a couple tips to help put your theory into action. The following is a simple eight-step framework to help ensure you’re setting your company up for success.

1. Listen to your customers

Engage with your customers to understand their expectations about their individual interactions and experiences. If you are already surveying your customers, think about other ways in which you can interact with prospects and customers such as focus groups, interviews, business planning meetings, social media monitoring, etc.

Spending time interacting more deeply with your customers will be well worth the effort and the data you gather will be critical to enable the rest of the steps in the framework.

2. Intentionally define the customer experience

Begin by mapping out the end-to-end customer experience and identifying the key moments of truth (those interactions that represent the biggest opportunity to delight your customers). Adjust the experience delivered within those interactions based on feedback from your customers to define a consistent, effective experience across all channels.

Adopt innovation techniques and ethnographic research and conduct “experience experiments” to understand the preferred customer experience through the customer’s eyes.

3. Seek out great examples

Look for comparable  models of great customer experiences and assess potential for adoption of those models in your environment. Think outside the box here. How would Uber or Apple operate if they were in your industry? Our experience shows that many of the best ideas come from organizations outside of your industry that have faced similar challenges.

Be aggressive in seeking these examples and share them with your team!

4. Build an empowered customer experience culture

A culture of delivering the ideal customer experience is everyone’s job. Someone at a conference once said “Everyone in our organization either serves the customer or they serve someone who serves the customers.” Couldn’t agree more, yet organizations tend to make it tricky for employees to navigate the policies and hurdles in place to delight customers.

One simple way to get past these artificial hurdles is to constantly ask yourself (and encourage your employees to ask), “Is this the kind of experience I would like?” and empower front-line staff to do the right thing in the name of the ideal customer experience.

5. Personalize the engagement with your customers

Customize how you interact with your customers based on who they are, what they care about and what their expectations are. Seek to leverage innovative technology to consistently interact with your customers based on the defined customer experience.

6. Assign ownership and create accountability

Assess your organization’s ability to deliver the customer experience and the talent required to do so. Best-in=class organizations have adopted a CCO (Chief Customer Officer) role with key business functions reporting into them (e.g., marketing, customer service, account management, etc) and empowered the role to make meaningful changes across the organization – always with the customer in mind first.

7. Monitor results

Leverage new technologies and analytics capabilities to measure the impact of the changes you have made on the customer lifecycle. Start with a basic scorecard that is monitored monthly, then begin to leverage technology and connect the customer experience metrics to standard business metrics (e.g., customer retention, revenue growth within customer segments, etc.).

8. Build a sustainable process

Developing a differentiated customer experience is a journey, not a one-time activity. Experiences that once delighted customers will eventually become basic expectations and new experiences will need to be created. To sustain the competitive advantage created by the experience, continue to work through these steps on an ongoing basis as customer expectations are constantly changing.

In today’s rapidly-changing environment, the most successful companies are those that put their customers at the center of their strategy and treat the experiences being delivered as a critical business function. Organizations with leading customer experiences decline less in the downturns and bounce back faster when the economic cycle improves.

By defining the ideal customer experience, building a sustainable process and leveraging new technologies, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and positions them for growth.

Get on the customer experience train or risk getting left in the dust by your competitors!

mcxir-promo-imageIf you want a course that your managers, supervisors, leaders and team leads can engage with online, that is self-paced and that guarantees customer retention and will increase revenue – Sign Up Here for Mastering Customer Experience and Increasing Your Revenue 

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