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Achieving the Customer Experience Edge without Breaking the Bank

TMCnews Featured Article


November 10, 2011

Achieving the Customer Experience Edge without Breaking the Bank

By TMCnet Special Guest
Reza Soudagar, Co-author of �The Customer Experience Edge�, McGraw Hill Professional; October 2011


Over 80 percent of the executives who participated in a recent global survey – conducted by Bloomberg (News - Alert) Businessweek Research Services -- indicated that customer experience is one of their top strategic priorities. However, when they were asked to rate their current ability to deliver a differentiated customer experience only 20 percent rated themselves at an acceptable level.   So how do companies succeed in creating a differentiated customer experience?   How do they do this in way that leads to profitability and growth?


We believe it is all about trust—a seemingly amorphous concept, but one that is the cement of a business relationship.   Only when you have established trust between the business and the customer can you begin to form an emotional bond—“stickiness,” if you will—that cannot be replicated by anyone else and will keep customers loyal to you.   On closer inspection, trust is not a blurry concept at all.   Based on our customer experience work we determined that there are four building blocks of trust. We call them the essentials of the customer experience edge. These four customer experience essentials are reliability, convenience, responsiveness, and relevance.

Table: Four Customer Experience Essentials

Customer Experience Essential

 

What It Looks Like

 

Reliability

Living up to your promises. Example: Consistent on-time delivery, each and every time.

Convenience

Offering choice, consistency, and timeliness. Example:

Using multiple channels to engage with customers.

Responsiveness

Listening and responding quickly. Example: Changing a process or policy when feedback reveals that it causes problems for customers.

Relevance

Ensuring that offerings are personalized and meaningful.

Example: Gaining insight into what really matters to individual customers at a particular point in time.

 

The desire—and the ability—to offer these elements has to be pervasive across every department in the company, not just something that marketing and sales cares about. Product developers, engineering, finance, legal and the shipping department have to care about creating trust, too. We have determined that a cultural change is often required to change the attitudes of everyone within the organization when it comes to how the customer is viewed – but that is not enough.

For many experts, improving the customer experience is just a matter of changing the corporate culture and adding passion for customers.  And we agree that these are crucial for developing a strong customer experience. However, there is another less discussed element that no amount of culture change or organizational transformation can replace: technology.  

In our survey, close to 80 percent of executives believed that disconnected processes and technologies are the most important obstacles in delivering a great customer experience. Those with tightly integrated applications rated their customer experience offering 20 percent higher.

This means companies who excel at customer experience operate as one unit and not as a collection of departments.   They have taken an outside-in view of their processes and rely on technologies that increase collaboration and empower employees with accurate, complete and real-time view of customer information.

Indeed, technology, done right, is the secret ingredient that enables companies to create the customer experience edge in a scalable, lower-cost way that works not just for 10 or 100 customers but for thousands of customers in a profitable and sustainable manner.

This is part one of a series of three articles on how to gain a profitable customer experience edge. Part two and three will discuss how these principles are implemented in various business environments, from classical B2C models to complex B2B models.


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Edited by Rich Steeves







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