Creating the ideal customer experience is one of the hot areas of focus right now for organisations who believe it will provide them a competitive advantage.
So what’s the role of the CIO and IT team in helping develop the customer experience? It's clear that there is often a lack of clarity over who owns the ‘customer’ in an organisation. Is it marketing, sales, operations or the customer contact team?
As enterprise is being transformed by digitisation, my view is IT has a key leadership role to play.
Many define customer experience as the sum of all experiences that one has with an organisation. But what is customer experience really all about?
Is it to create a brand-new class of experience or just to eliminate the bad episodes? Is customer experience about reinventing the interactions or eliminating process variation?
Client experience advocate at Deloitte, Geoff Stalley, believes consistency is an important factor.
“The key to great customer experience is consistency and thus the objective for any organisation has to be to embed a way of dealing with customers that provides a consistent, excellent experience," he said.
“Bad experiences are the ones remembered and often communicated on social media or by word of mouth, and when this happens these can outweigh the great experiences by a factor of ten. Thus any activity that removes variations and creates a consistent excellent experience is one that will succeed”, he said.
Walking in the customers’ shoes
Stalley noted that the real challenge is seeing things from the customer’s point of view; try walking in the customers’ shoes to define the experience your organisation could provide.
This journey will help to uncover the gap between the standard processes your organisation adopts today and missing interaction points that would make for a smoother experience.
According to Raj Mendes, the managing director of The Customer Experience, it doesn’t matter how exceptional your experience is on paper "if you can’t execute it consistently - then it’s worth nothing".
To create a truly noteworthy experience, Mendes recommends companies start with customer needs, goals and expectations. This forms the basis for a customer strategy and allows an organisation to be targeted in the way it approaches improving customer experience. Then a business can select the areas in which it wants to be exceptional.
Who owns the customer? In Australia, often no single job role holds ownership of the customer, meaning the customer is orphaned and neglected.
Tim Sheedy, who helps his Forrester clients design and implement digital and mobile strategies, said “too many Australian businesses de-prioritise customer experience. Many customer experience people I speak to are junior, with little influence or budget.”
Customer experience isn’t a destination, it’s a journey
A journey suggests this is an ongoing odyssey and not a one-off project. Early adopters have changed the fabric of the organisation.
It is not about implementing a new CRM system with some technology bells and whistles. Stalley said dedicated customer experience programs needed to be embedded into the culture of the organisation.
“This starts with listening to the customer and systematically obtaining feedback from a range of interactions, understanding the good, bad and the ugly at each interaction point, making changes to processes that will improve the experience and then measuring and rewarding the behaviours that matter to customers," he said.
"In essence it’s all about connecting with customers and understanding what they want.”
Read on for two case studies....