Tag Archives: customer experience

What is Customer Experience and How Do You Deliver It?

Customer experience is everything your brand does for your customers, everything your business processes to do them and how it makes them feel. Customer experience design is the art and science of shaping experience for customers so they appreciate it, remember it, and share it with their friends.

The for part includes those services that make life easier for your customers—the smiles that leave them feeling better and the outcomes that leave them better off. When a business is designed to maximize service, customers receive value and feel good about the brands that serve them. The to part is when business processes make customers do things they don’t want to. It often includes filling out forms, standing in lines, waiting for call center representatives, and repeating themselves. When business processes dictate the customer’s experience, costs (measured in time, money, effort, and emotion) go up and satisfaction plummets.

Before you deliver a great experience, you have to learn what your customers want most, design the experience that delivers it best, and (here’s the hard part) adjust the way your company works on the inside so that your teams, processes, and technologies are capable of delivering on the next expectations.

The next posts in this LinkedIn exclusive series will make customer experience easier to understand and deliver in your own organization.

Please share your comments and help shape the content as we go!

Posted by:Mike Wittenstein

Top 5 Marketing Tech Predictions for 2014

Technology adoption has become a competitive differentiator for CMOs who strive to out-innovate their competitors. There is so much opportunity for brands to strengthen consumer engagement through their digital channels. So, with 2014 upon us, it’s time to look at how websites and digital experiences will change in the year to come. What is the future of the branded website? How will technology change customers’ online shopping experience?

Here are my top marketing tech predictions for 2014.

1. CMOs Will Take Back Control

Over the core components of the digital customer experience that is. Many of these digital customer channels, like websites, mobile devices and social networks, were offloaded to IT in the past. But in 2014, CMOs will take back the control over this content to ensure the brand image is accurately portrayed on the customer facing end.

2. Evolve or Die

Ok, this might be a bit of an overused statement, but it does hold some truth. Stemming from taking back control from the IT teams, CMOs will put a greater value on agility and integration over single vendor solutions in 2014. In today’s digital age, CMOs must embrace the shift to digital or risk being phased out in favor of digital natives who understand how business and technology meet.

An entirely new job title —Chief Digital Officer — has emerged because marketing leaders, to date, have not fully embraced the disruptive nature of digital. CMOs who don’t evolve will face the harsh reality of marketing in a world where digital experiences are customer experiences.

3. Content Meets Commerce

Recent data from Forrester Research shows that Web Content Management and e-commerce are the top two priorities for digital executives. Next year, I believe the lines between these two priorities will blur. Customers want the opportunity to review great content while shopping online, and visa versa.

Companies will strive to blend content and commerce so customers can learn more about a product, read reviews and interact with other customers or customer service representatives before making a purchasing decision.

4. The Store-Like Website

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar stores are evolving, and stores as we know them are becoming a thing of the past. But as brands boost up their web experiences, we’ll see web developers and marketing teams start to replicate the most successful elements of an in-store experience on the web.

These new “store-like” websites will enable customers to do more than just buy a product — they’ll be able to chat with customer service representatives, view video and other visual demonstrations, and easily find reviews and similar products from that brand. Ultimately, the experience will be much more personalized and easy to navigate.

5. Taking Back the Brand

CMOs that learn how to be agile to drive toward an integrated customer experience across content, community and commerce are the ones who will succeed in 2014. Delivering an integrated digital experience requires the ability to integrate social business into the customer journey across websites, mobile devices and customer communities. When done effectively, this integration allows the brand to own their story and the customer experience, from the information gathering phase through to the purchase decision.

Customer Journeys vs. Touchpoints? It’s Not Even Close

OK, I admit that the Journeys v Touchpoints doesn’t have the same ring as Great Taste v Less Filling. But if you’re running a business, it’s a lot more important. We talk a lot about the “customer decision journey.” But the “journey” concept can be applied much more broadly.

What do I mean by ? It’s the series of interactions a customer has with the brand to get something done. And in a multi-channel, increasingly mobile world, those journeys have more interactions embedded within them. Getting the smoothness across those interactions — continuity of information about a customer, consistency of content — is critical. Even more so might be eliminating the need for a touchpoint in the first place during the journey (why do I need to sign something in person?). When it comes to keeping your customers satisfied, getting those journeys right is much more important than getting each individual interaction right.

What’s really fascinating though is that when we look across industries, getting journeys right brings about an important set of wins (“stacked wins” as my colleague, Dorian Stone says.)
Here is what excellence in journeys means:

  • 20% improvement in customer satisfaction
  • 10% – 15% improvement in revenues
  • 15% – 20% lower costs to serve
  • 20% – 30% higher employee engagement.

The reason for this array of value has a pretty simple logic: Better service often means reducing overlaps, redundancies, and inefficiencies (lower costs). That improved service leads to happier customers (higher customer satisfaction), which in turn leads to better corporate performance (higher revenues). Improved performance and happier customers create a much more pleasant and fulfilling workplace (higher employee engagement).

While this makes sense, marketing and operations often fail to see the full range of benefits when making their investment and budget calculations. They should. Only by having a complete sense of the value potential can business leaders make the necessary investments and organizational changes to improve customer experience journeys.

You can get more on this idea of journeys here.

How do you measure the benefits of good customer experience and secure the budgets you need?

You can learn more about customer experience and other topics on the McKinsey on Marketing & Sales site. Follow us on Twitter @McK_MktgSales and you can follow me @davidedelman.

[Image: riza, Flickr]

Posted by:David Edelman

Healthcare.gov and CGI: WTF.

What marketers need to understand about website engagement.

No matter what side of the political aisle you may stand on, one thing is for certain; The selection of the CGI Federal to handle the healthcare.gov website demonstrates a serious lack of understanding in customer engagement and in customer relationship management. And while it burns me to know that it went out to a Canadian company, I would be fine with that selection if they had the experience to create a site with this level of engagement by the public. In other words, I don’t blame CGI in this case — I blame the people who selected them.

CGI is a technology information company and if this were a case of building a site solely around that, I’m sure they would be fine. What our government officials failed to understand is that this wasn’t a site about the healthcare industry and what it has to offer. This was a site for consumers to understand what their options are as it affects their choices, lives and budgets. Furthermore, the site should also be a portal to a customer relationship management and nurture program that would allow for continuing communications on a consistent basis about the implementation of plans and services rendered. Instead, you have a $200 million piece of crap that fails at every turn to be helpful in the ways it was intended.

The people of our nation would have been much better served if an agency like R/GA www.rga.com (that has the size and website customer experience modeling) had built it. Or even a small firm like Second Story www.secondstory.com in Portland whose interactive customer experiences are truly engaging. I could even forgo an agency I respect if it was a company that truly understands CRM like salesforce.com, which could also tie into ExactTarget for ongoing communications. Heck, amazon.com would even be a better choice. I think you get my point that there were a lot of options that would have served the public far better than a technology information company.

So here’s the lesson for you. If you find yourself needing to engage an audience through an online experience (website or otherwise), realize this: technology information distribution is a starting point and not the end game. Anyone can build and market a site to get people to go to it — that’s easy. But if the experience isn’t creatively crafted to the needs of the audience, along with a clear decision path based on its goals, it’s pointless. And then, not only have you missed a sale, you’ve missed an opportunity to build a lifelong relationship with that person as well as all the people that person has an influence on.

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5 Steps for Building a World Class Contact Center in 2014 – Webinar Q&A

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business hand writing question about 2014 on graphDuring our recent Genesys Best Practices webinar on 5 Steps for Building a World-Class Contact Center in 2014 we discussed the new customer experience model companies can adopt to address the changes in customer behavior and expectations coming in 2014. We also discussed the key capabilities to look for in a modern contact center solution to help you get there.

If you have yet to view the webinar, click the link above. Below is a recap of the question and answer session, providing some additional insight beyond what’s included in the initial webinar.

Does the concept of customer journey apply to B2C business only or also B2B?

The concept of a customer journey applies to any situation with a supplier of goods or services and a recipient of those goods or services. In fact, given the numerous parties potentially involved in a B2B situation, the journey concept might prove more valuable in such instances. For example, gaining a deep understanding of the journey through a customer’s purchasing approval process might provide a B2B supplier with the tools needed to anticipate all the support needs during that purchasing process. Such proactive outreach makes the supplier a more trusted partner while also making the purchasing process smoother.

Do customer experience metrics change when you take a customer journey-centric approach?

They absolutely do! McKinsey & Co. studied this very question and came up with some astounding results. For example, McKinsey found that journey-centric approaches are 36% more correlated to customer satisfaction than a focus on touchpoints alone. Conversely, focusing on customer journeys show a 33% greater reduction in churn than concentrating on optimizing touchpoints. Clearly these are the kinds of results that drive not just customer experience, but also companies’ bottom lines.

What is customer effort and how is it measured?

The Customer Effort Score is a metric based on research done by the Corporate Executive Board. The score is derived from the answer to the question, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” Many companies find it more effective to word the question differently, focusing instead on how easy it was to do business with the brand. Additionally, many companies add further questions to their surveying to focus on what type of effort customers had to put in to get their request handled. This could include the mental energy needed to read documentation, or the time required to wait in queue, or even the emotional effort to stifle frustration from unhelpful customer service representatives.

How would the service levels be managed in contact centers if the handle time metric is taken out of the equation?

First, a clarification: We don’t envision a world in which contact centers completely ignore handle time. Handle time will always be measured. We believe, however, that in many cases it reduces the customer experience to reward or punish agents based on handle time metrics alone.

For companies that have decided to remove handle time from their agent performance evaluations, there are other metrics that encourage the types of hands-on connection that drive excellent experiences. Online retailer Zappos measures total call time and not time per call. The idea is that Zappos wants to forge an emotional connection with the customer and quickly getting the customer off the phone hampers efforts to achieve that goal.

So, rather than measure the length of a specific call takes to handle, the company can measure the percentage of total working time that an agent spends on the phone with customers. Agents are expected to spend at least 80% of their time actually interacting with customers, but it doesn’t matter if that time comes from 10 calls or 100 calls.

In what common direction (if any) do you think routing strategies are moving? Skills-based, schedule-based, cost-based?

There is no one right answer to this issue. Even within a specific company there may be several different routing strategies that can be harmonized to provide the best experiences for customers. That said, among our customer base we are seeing increased interest in using schedule-based routing to drive better adherence. This strategy, however, rarely stands alone. For example, schedule-based routing can take into account skills in making the best routing decisions.

Seems to be a no-brainer, but the first point-of-contact, and perhaps the most important, is the company website. More a comment than a question, curious of your thoughts about this – the re-definition of the word “Contact”.

Yes, for many customers the Web would be the first port of call.  Being able to track a consumer’s actions on a website and then marrying that information with whatever context the company has about that customer can supply all of the data needed to proactively serve that customer. Genesys Proactive Engagement  provides exactly that type of tracking and decision-making functionality, check it out!

What’s the best plan to modernize the integration of mobile apps with the contact center?

Conceptually, we believe the most important factor for providing customer service via mobile apps is to get your customers to actually download and use the apps. Companies have already invested a lot of time, effort and money on both creating their mobile apps and marketing them to consumers. From there, the best way to reach the greatest number of consumers is to ‘customer service-enable’ existing apps rather than create bespoke service-focused apps. This approach allows mobile channels to be integrated into the existing cross-channel customer service strategy, and provides your mobile app user with a fast and seamless connection to customer service.

Our leading-edge customers have seamlessly integrated mobile customer care applications with ‘live’ support by adding a ‘Contact Us’ button inside their mobile apps to connect directly to an agent, who receives session information, customer history, preferences, location, and other contextual information for quick resolution. This button could also provide numerous options such as “Speak to an Agent,” “Chat with an Agent,” or “Schedule a Callback.” Companies can even provide actual wait-times from their queues to allow customers to choose the experience that best works with their schedules. Check out Genesys Mobile Engagement.

In case you missed it, here is the link to access the on demand webinar 5 Steps for Building a World-Class Contact Center in 2014.

Thanks for reading!


Shopping Is What Consumers Do… Not What Analysts Want

A lot of pundits get a lot of mileage (not to mention, verbiage) pitting online retail against in-store retail. And the holiday season, with its stacks of sales stats, brings an absolute feeding frenzy of fortune telling.

Trouble is that it’s inane and pointless to draw lines.

People live in both worlds. And, consequently, they’re buying in both worlds. Why? Because they’re buying where it feels right to buy. Where they get the experience that feels best to them.

Sure bad weather can move the needle on a given day. So can good promotions, interest-free offers and last-minute sales. But, make no mistake, the lines between online and in-store are getting blurred. And the brands that are smartest about it know that price alone isn’t going to make it.

If you look at an online brand like Amazon, from a brand perspective, it’s not just about price, it’s about value delivered to customers. And that touches everything from the confidence consumers have in the information and recommendations they get, the experience that packages will always arrive on time (in fact, usually early), as well as widespread consumer belief and attraction that Amazon transformed the way people shop and is thus always a step ahead of the pack.

Now, that’s a brand experience. And Amazon has grounded their business in the physical world with their partnerships with messenger firms and now the USPS, as well as with more and more in-store pickup centers and pop-up stores that let customers get their hands on a Kindle to aid the decision-making process.

When it comes to in-store retail, the company that’s catching my eye is Best Buy, under the leadership of their French CEO, Hubert Joly.

Joly didn’t grow up in the electronics industry, with its quick rate of obsolescence and constant price slashing. He hails from the travel industry, where he was previously the CEO of Carlson, which owns Radisson Hotels and the TGI Fridays restaurants. Businesses that truly live or die on the customer experience.

And so he’s taken Best Buy back to basics — making people feel their decision is important, that they deserve attention, solutions, satisfaction.

What Joly had to reverse was people coming to the stores just to see and touch goods before shopping online. The battle as he saw it was not for traffic but conversion. With his “hospitality” background he understood that, of on top of the seeing-touching-trying experience inherent to being in a store, he could add some great customer service — information, comparisons, customized solutions and deliver and install before any online purchase could arrive, that would be a real point of difference.

And it is. Best Buy’s stock price is up 200% this year and they are in the top three S&P performers — the same kind of halo a great tech stock has — and the sales are on the rise.

Amazon. Best Buy. Both are brands that understand that the experience is the totality of online, offline, merchandise and price. All of that creates the brand.

I return to what I always say…Digital is everything, but not everything is digital. Best Buy is all over how to use digital to enhance the physical experience. Amazon, so digitally sophisticated, is getting smarter every day about the real world manifestations of their brand.

Technology isn’t the problem. And it’s not the solution. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about the “new” unspoken problem of online retail — the large number of returns. That, however, has plagued the world of catalog sales since Sears started printing 300-plus pages in the 1890s.

So don’t buy the digibabble about the great divide between online and in-store. Not in a world where “geek squads” and Amazon stores are proliferating. The discussion isn’t about high tech or low tech. It’s about building brands and driving sales by putting the customer first.

Photo: Nicholas Eckhart/Flickr


5 reasons why many businesses are still not customer-led

mostly, it’s a leadership choice

You hear a lot today about customer-led businesses. But of course you’ve always heard that if you’ve been listening. The customer is the boss. The customer is always right. The customer pays our wages. Despite the ancient nature of this particular wisdom, I still see plenty of businesses that aren’t led by their customers. At the end of the day, customers won’t part with their cash unless you solve a problem they have — even if it’s a problem they don’t know they have. I can think of 5 common reasons for this:

  1. too much money
  2. visionary-led for too long
  3. distrust of the customer
  4. desire to sell existing assets
  5. no customer advocate

1. Too much money

‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ Well funded efforts just don’t need to hustle as much as businesses that are bootstrapped. This is a bigger problem in large companies funding new initiatives, but can also be a startup problem in certain circumstances. If you have enough money, you can remain infatuated with your own idea rather than working on the much harder problem of acquiring and delighting a paying customer. It’s not practical to turn down money, but if you have a lot of it, set milestones and real consequences that will force hard decisions as though you were running out of money.

read more -> https://medium.com/p/6f0477f4acc7