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‘Customer Experience what how and why now’ – Don Peppers
When it comes to customer experience, Don Peppers is one of the world’s most respected authorities. Over the last twenty years he and co-author Martha Rogers have written a series of best-selling bo
oks on the subject. They have collectively sold over a million copies in 18 languages. Businessweek Magazine called one of their books “the bible of the new marketing.”Accenture listed Don among the “Top 100 Business Intellectuals,” and The Times of London listed him as one of the “Top 50 Business Brains.”
In 2015 Don Peppers capped the list of “Top 25 Customer Experience Leaders” compiled by Satmetrix, based on factors including Klout score, LinkedIn presence, book sales, and “creation of an industry-changing methodology.” So if you’re looking for advice on how to think about, improve, and deliver a better customer experience, then this is the book for you. Organized as a series of short, easily digested and self-contained essays, it’s packed with concrete examples, suggestions, and inspiring ideas. Read it straight through, or snack on it as you like.
Let’s talk about change. Not many people are comfortable with change. We have our routines, our regular customers, trusted suppliers and, yes, we have our competitors too but we know who they are, where they work from and we like it that way.
But the change that software and technology has brought over the past 15 years is something else entirely. However, when I sit back and realise that it’s the way of the world since time immemorial – I begin to get comfortable with that. Genies and bottles, toothpaste and tubes, there really is no going back now.
There’s no doubting the change is massive. Even for small businesses, globalisation and not localisation is the new norm and technology is having a faster and more dramatic impact on our society than the Industrial Revolution. Is it for better or for worse? – richer or poorer? It doesn’t matter – it’s a fact and that ‘bird’ has flown.
How do we manage all of this change and upheaval? There is talk of robots taking all our jobs and there’s drones in LA delivering everything from parcels to pizzas.
So, is there really a place for Artificial Intelligence in CX? And how should we use it?
Bring it on, we say. But be careful how you use it because it really does have its limitations. For the moment we are still the bosses and let’s not forget that.
‘Cybernetics’ is a word that should provide a part of the solution. It’s the study of people and machines. More formally it is “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.”
Without getting too scientific about it, Cybernetics can be a way of using technology to help people do their jobs more easily and better. Take radiology for example, where Artificial Intelligence is used to analyse and detect cancer.
cells on MRI scans. This is not to say there is no Radiologist reading our x-rays but it does say that for such crucial work there is another ‘pair of eyes’ available. A good thing? – Yes!
In Customer Experience, we cannot devolve ourselves from emotion. Emotional drivers are the very foundation of the principles of CX and robots don’t have them! We need to use technology for the right things and at the right time, making it work for us so that we get better, faster and more personal.
Another great example would be how Artificial Intelligence can help us is to analyse dense data for anomalies, integrating multiple ‘voice of the customer’ sources such as survey data, call centre and social data which is key to better insights which in turn output useful predictive data. These are monotonous jobs that machines actually do much better. Once the alarm bell has gone off, we can intervene to diagnose the anomaly, then design a solution and implement that solution. No matter how advanced technology becomes, implementation and effective application is crucial. Companies need to be agile, accept the fact that they get things wrong sometimes and be able to change.
A slightly different example of technology is the use of chat-bots and voice command. These technologies have revolutionised how customers interact with companies, provide great personalisation and are very useful for factual, repetitive tasks and initial customer interactions. Companies like Intercom strike the perfect balance of fast automated solutions and having a human ‘feel’.
The interesting thing is we are comfortable interacting with chat-bots or automated voice systems provided we recognise they are automated. It’s okay to make automation ‘feel’ as human as possible but not a good idea to make the customer believe they are talking to a human when in fact they are talking to a robot. This will lead to distrust and frustration through the process.
Another key to the success of chat-bots and automated voice technology is knowing when to use them. And from a customer’s perspective, once required, a human can intervene.
Paying a bill online or getting a statement balance is fine for automated technology. But try explaining a disputed credit card charge on your statement to a robot and your experience will soon turn to frustration and anger. These situations require human discretion and good companies give authority to staff to resolve problems. There will always be a need for human intervention in the resolution of a customer issue.
Where companies see social skills and creativity as important assets there is always a need for human interaction. Automated checkouts in supermarkets may resolve Time & Effort issues but what negative effect do they have on the human touch factor of a cashier? I’ve regularly seen people queuing up for cashiers because they know them and receive a friendly comment or small, personalised conversation. These are highly valued interactions by people who may only have few other conversations during the day.
The key to using technology is to make it work for us and alongside us. Getting technology to do the mundane, repetitive tasks is what technology is great at. But if we want Customer Experience to work really well, human intervention and interaction is the key.
Maybe one day an automated checkout will ask me if I had a nice weekend but even if it does, it wouldn’t be pushed going back because of it!
Companies that deliver CX excellence receive immediate and impactful benefits that filter throughout the whole business. Each of these benefits ultimately deliver greater commercial ROI and shareholder value.
These benefits can be realised by each business department or C-suite decision maker. Below, we outline which benefits are important to each department. It has been designed to help CX practitioners get buy-in from each department and the company as a whole, enabling a speedier focus on the customer.
The core benefits of delivering CX Excellence are:
Differentiation from your competitor
Greater customer loyalty and retention
More cost-effective acquisition of new customers
Reduction in cost to serve your customers
Greater staff motivation and longevity
Greater shareholder value
Shareholder value CX provides greater ROI for investors
Business differentiation Because most businesses today offer pretty much the same product at the same price, CX is now the only true way a company can differentiate its offering to its customers
Business reputation Companies that treat their staff and customers brilliantly earn stronger reputations in their communities and markets
Internal culture CX creates a positive internal culture and working environment
Is CX part of the agenda in your company?
Use this information to arm yourself in your next board meeting. You know how investment in CX will benefit your company. Now you know how to get everyone on board!
Delivering Customer Experience Excellence offers companies many benefits which in turn create greater shareholder value. By consistently focusing on ‘The CX Framework’, companies will create an emotional connection with customers, creating behaviours and relationships that deliver growth. But what economic impact will ‘The CX Framework’ have on your company?
The following diagram illustrates the economics of The CX Framework and CX Excellence:
As 2019 gets underway we can reflect on a 2018 that brought some fascinating changes in the landscape of CX worldwide. Instead of seeing improvements around the globe, we have actually seen a dip in performance. It is clear that the majority of companies are still struggling to deliver CX Excellence. Failing to meet the ever-rising expectations of the customer.
As companies place significant investment in technology, it appears that many have lost focus on the one thing that can create a genuine connection with their customer better than anything else – the human touch.
In 2019 we see the need to find the right balance between technology and emotionally intelligent and empowered staff who truly understand the customer, can build rapport and are able to deliver heroic resolutions. We also see the importance of clear communication throughout companies, making sure every single employee understands and is on board with the customer promise.
Below, we have listed Seven Key CX trends for your company to focus on for 2019.
1. Getting the balance right between technology and people is critical
Technology definitely has a role to play in CX Excellence but it must add to the experience and it can’t be the only area of investment. Customers want the emotional connection. We predict a growth in investment in staff training and empowerment, focusing on emotional intelligence and experience rather than just service.
2. Businesses must have a clear customer promise
Customers do not tolerate over promising anymore. Trust has gone out the window. Honing in on a realistic customer promise will create a framework to deliver the experience your customers want. It will also be the foundation of your reputation. Honesty and transparency must be central to your promise. Use customer experience camps to develop your promise.
3. Agility will become a critical CX driver
Agile delivery across all channels will be critical to ensure CX Excellence and will become a key competitive differentiator. As customer expectations continue to rise, being able to quickly test, learn and revise will be the difference in getting and staying ahead of your competitors.
4. Silos will be removed
Human beings lie behind every great CX journey and CX champions know and leverage this. Companies need to breakdown internal silos and be structured around the customer with multi-functional teams focused on delivering CX Excellence. Culture, education and communication must be at the foundation of this business transformation.
5. The highly personal touch
More and more companies will design highly personal customer experiences to differentiate their business against competitor offerings, ensuring customers feel like important individuals with distinct needs and taste. Technology will support this by providing real-time customer insights to drive CX initiatives.
6. CX will become the recognised umbrella for business growth and cost savings
Shifting from a focus on short term profits to long term customer success is key. Senior management teams must understand that CX is a long-term programme that has no ‘quick fix’, but is the only way to differentiate their business.
7. The new method of customer acquisition
CX will help your company to not only retain your existing customers, it will also help you to acquire new customers. By delivering great experiences your existing customers will become advocates of your company. They will be so loyal, engaged and connected that they will sell on your behalf. Recommending you to family, friends and colleagues. CX turns your existing customers into sales people. This is the new method of customer acquisition.
While we have seen a dip in performance overall, this has left a huge opportunity for companies to improve and stand out from their competitors. Companies that will succeed are those that can break away from CX mediocrity and deliver a meaningful and consistent customer experience across all channels, while balancing the use of technology with the human touch.
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