Chris Bell. Customer Experience Coach.

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1 Chris Bell Customer Experience Coach

2 Developing Your Unique Customer Experience Introduction As more and more business leaders start to understand what a customer experience strategy is all about and more importantly the benefits it will deliver to their business, its now time to focus on how you actually go about developing and implementing a successful customer experience strategy. What we see most often is that organisations have made an attempt to develop only some of the steps and have become frustrated because they have not seen the results from their endeavours and in many cases give up. This is a short list of some of the challenges many businesses are having in today s marketplace. I would be surprised if you can t at least relate to one or two of these. Increased marketing cost, producing less results The days of just increasing your market spend to attract more business is still unfortunately the strategy for many organisations. We are trying to market to an increasingly marketing savvy customer who has been over promised and under delivered too many times before Difficulty attracting the right people to deliver your customer experience Business leaders understand the importance of having the right people to deliver their experience. The fact is that good people want to work with organizations that are both focused on them and their customers and the reality is that those businesses are not easy to find

3 High staff turnover, resulting in increased recruitment and training costs This challenge is also related to the one above. Once again not surprising that such a large number of people are looking for somewhere better to work. Surveys show that the number one reason for this is the relationship with the person they are directly responsible to. A decline in customer loyalty and customer referrals Research has shown that for sometime now customer loyalty and our reluctance to recommend a business to others is in decline. Pressure on margins due to an increased focus on price The great news is that we now have some good research that shows customers will pay more and show greater loyalty to businesses that deliver high quality experiences. Lack of creativity within business No surprise here. Business is seen as a left Brain logical activity. Right brain thinking is not encouraged.its no surprise that as customers we are bored with the current world of sameness. A culture that has difficultly focusing on your customer We find that most businesses are more operationally focus than customer focused regardless of the rhetoric. Facing increased competition In many cases from non-traditional sources. This is making it even more important that business embrace and develop one of the few uniqueness s still available, the experience you consistently deliver to your customers. A lack of sustainable competitive advantage These days if you have a competitive advantage one that s growing your market share, you can be sure that your competitors will be about to copy it, returning the status quo to the world of sameness. A need to cut costs As margins come under increasing pressure more businesses focus on ways to cut costs in many cases at the expense of their customer experience. The Three Must Haves- If there is one reason organisations shy away from implementing a customer experience strategy, it would be because its people reliant and despite rapid advances in technology and the influence this will have on processes, systems and future customer buying behaviour, this reliance is not going to change anytime soon

4 1) Leadership that is committed long-term to providing the vision, motivation, resources and recognition. 2) A culture that is totally focused on your team, your customers and is continually seeking ways to improve the experience for both parties 3) The right people in the right seats with all they need to deliver their magic Leadership Culture MUST HAVES Right People - 4 -

5 The Seven Sequential Customer Experience Development Steps 1. Leader lead commitment Create a team and customer focused business culture 2. Customer Driven Vision Clear vision in place Continually communicated to the team Inspired, motivated and empowered organisation 3. Customer Experience Defined Customer experience defined Physical exchanges and emotional experiences conveyed 4. Customer Touch points Customer contacts identified Manage impressions created Understand the customer s perspective 5. Measurable Service Standards Agreed Define what you will deliver at each touch point Consistency is the key Skill development opportunities 6. Measuring your customer experience performance What is measured gets done Measure the contribution your customer experience strategy makes to your financial performance 7. Continuous Improvement Plan Exceed customers expectations Encourage creative ideas Reward team performance - 5 -

6 Step One Commitment I frequently get a chuckle when I launch into this step, mainly because most people would see it as a no brainer. They clearly see that without total commitment within an organisation no strategy will enjoy total success. However it continues to amaze me how many business leaders give things a go with very little commitment. There is very much a short term give it a go and see what happens attitude out there that is having a negative effect within many organisations. People in these organisations view any initiative that comes from the leadership with comments like let s see how long this lasts or here we go with another flavour of the month idea. When this attitude exists within an organisation, gaining long-term commitment becomes increasingly difficult. Leadership From leadership comes the culture of an organisation. In many cases we can determine the quality and style of an organisation s leadership and the resulting culture by the experience and service we receive at the front counter. Leadership Culture The right people The Right Culture a) Outside- in Culture- A total focus on the team and customers Impact on the Customer Experience: The customer sees a very customer focused organisation The customer receives a consistently high quality customer experience Customers are encouraged to give feedback The customer experience continually improves Customer loyalty and word of mouth increase To a large degree an organisation s culture determines employee engagement, customer focused systems and processes, loyalty and many of the other vital elements that make up a customer experience strategy

7 Key Priority Your people are number ONE Your customers are number TWO You will never deliver a consistently high quality customer experience unless your people are having the same. It s your people that will be the difference between the customer experience you are delivering and that of your competitors. If that difference is going to determine where a customer does business next time they need your products or services, then your priority must be your people. If your people see that they are your priority, they will ensure that your customers are their priority. 67 percent of New Zealand employees go to work everyday disengaged according to research undertaken by Auckland based workplace research company JRA. This is the prime reason New Zealand s productivity rating is near the bottom of the OECD. Employee disengagement is also the number one reason you and I as customers have very few high quality experiences that encourage us to recommend a business. The Customer Experience Formula Involvement = Engagement Productivity = Growth Engagement = Commitment Loyalty = Productivity Commitment = Loyalty Involvement = Engagement The more involved your people are in the development and delivery of your Customer Experience the more engaged they will be in the role they play in that experience

8 Engagement = Commitment The more engaged your people are in delivering the very best experiences to your customers the greater their commitment to the on-going development of that experience. Commitment = Loyalty The commitment of your team drives customer loyalty. Real customer loyalty is about building strong relationships. Trying to do it with gimmicks doesn t work. Loyalty = Productivity A loyal team does things more effectively and efficiently without compromising the quality of the customer experience. Increased Productivity = Growth/Profitability/Cost reductions. Step Two Aligning Your Vision With The Customer Experience In our experience there are two scenarios here. 1) An organisation does not have a vision and the people within the organisation have little idea where the organisation is going or wants to go. 2) An organisation has a vision but very few know what it is. The vision is just a need to have rather than an inspirational statement defining what the organisation wants to be. A vision is a company s purpose -it s what a company aspires to be. It s difficult to motivate and excite your people if they are just turning up to work to complete yet another day. We are much more motivated if we are part of an organisation that clearly knows where it wants to be and we understand the part we will play in helping to get there. A customer experience strategy plays a vital role in moving an organisation towards its vision. Step Three -Customer Experience Statement What is it? A customer experience statement defines the experience an organisation commits to consistently deliver to its customers. It s very common for us to ask several different people in an organisation to define the experience they deliver to their customers and get several different versions. This is one of the reasons customers are receiving inconsistent experiences, It is this inconsistency that impacts a businesses ability to grow customer loyalty and enjoy the rewards of customer recommendations. A customer experience statement puts everyone on the same page. How is it used: Everyone in the organisation has a copy of the customer experience statement. It is referred to when discussing anything to do with your customer experience and contemplating any changes to your current customer experience

9 The Development Process: The best way to develop your customer experience statement is to start at the end and work back. Start by thinking how you would like your customers to feel once they have had your customer experience. Capture key words that describe feelings, emotion and start to put those into a statement. Step Four -Touch Points A touch point, sometimes referred to as a moment of truth, is any point where a customer comes into contact with an organisation and as a result forms an opinion of that organisation. As you can imagine there are many possible touch points, some more important from a customers perspective than others. The key is to start putting a list together that will prioritise touch points from the customers perspective and then categorise each touch point into one of three areas - people, systems and processes or equipment Some touch points will end up in more that one category. For example the telephone is still the most important communication tool for many organisations. As a category the telephone fits into two. People and their telephone skills and equipment as in having the right telephone system to maximise the effectiveness of this important touch point. Step Five Service Standards We have spoken about the importance of consistency in terms of building customer loyalty. Service standards are the way we ensure consistency across all touch points. Starting from the top of your touch point list and using our 8 stage service standard development system and your customer experience statement as your guide write a measurable service standard for each touch point. Step 6 Measurement When introducing a new strategy based on a defined customer experience, it s important that we know how we are performing against the standards. It some cases fine tuning maybe required. What looks and sounds great in a meeting may not turn out as good in reality. Everyone must understand that this strategy development is an ongoing process of measurement, adjustment and further improvement as we continually look for ways to do even better. Step 7 Ongoing Customer Experience Developments - 9 -

10 A mistake that many organisations make once they have reached step six and have started to measure their customer experience performance, is they think that the development process is complete and all they need to do going forward is to maintain a consistent delivery of their customer experience. Recent history has shown that those organisations that stopped at step six only maintained their competitive advantage for a short time before their competitors started to lift their customer experience performance levels. If we take a look back before the customer experience concept was introduced, the focus was on customer service as a point of difference and a competitive advantage. But what happened? One business witnessed another gaining market share due to the quality of its customer service and everyone began to focus on the quality of their customer service. The result was the quality of customer service improved to the point where there was very little difference between competitors. Welcome to the World of Sameness We call this the world of sameness and this is exactly the situation we have now, very little difference between the quality of one customer experience over another, resulting in a focus on price as the only competitive advantage business can think of with the inevitable impact on margins. The Generator Programme The way we have addressed this is with a programme we call The Generator The Generator is designed to capitalise on ALL the creativity within an organisation. It s well known that customers will normally tell you what you are not doing right or as well as a competitor but they will not tell you what you should be doing in the future and rightly so, it s not their job it s yours. We believe that business creativity and the ability for businesses to encourage and capture ideas from within their organisations is one of the areas that is lacking in most businesses. We have become a community of copiers and followers rather than leaders. The Reward Let s be clear the development of a customer experience strategy is not just about being nice to your customers. It is about the long-term growth and profitability of your business as a direct result of the quality of your employee and customer experience. The rewards from the efforts that you commit to this strategy are many and you can rest assured they all will in some way reflect the health of your balance sheet. To follow are some of these key benefits

11 A sustainable competitive advantage: Today we compete in a highly commoditised world where there are few sustainable competitive advantages. Employee and customer loyalty: Both are on the decline however we are all aware of the importance of both. The ability to attract the right people: One of the challenges we hear employers talk about is the difficulty they have in finding the right people Capitalising on all your creativity: There is no doubt that creativity will be a key competitive advantage in the future. Increased revenue and profitability: Organisations with a total customer focus are continually coming up with ways to add value other that reducing margin Conclusion The strategic approach to the development of a high quality customer experience is one of the few options an organisation has in an increasingly competitive, technology driven economy. The key elements to this approach are strategic and long-term - two elements that are missing from many SMEs today. As customers we are all too aware of quality of the customer experiences currently being delivered. As customers we are also very aware of just how many options we now have if a business is not meeting our expectations. On the other hand we as customers do have a desire to belong and when we do find an organisation that consistently delivers a high quality experience and does take the time to build a relationship that focuses on us as an individuals, we very quickly not only return that effort with our loyalty but also our ability to recommend to others. Business is only starting to understand how powerful customer recommendation is and will continue to be in the future. I know your customers will appreciate your efforts to enhance your customer experience development and will reward you with their loyalty and powerful recommendations. Copyright Chris Bell. All Rights Reserved

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