The likes of Google, Amazon, and many other “digital disrupters” have changed our expectations of a good customer experience forever.
While this is undoubtedly a good thing – one of the key benefits of free market capitalism is that people are provided with more choice and better goods and services than they would otherwise be – it hasn’t made life easy for many of the world’s customer service teams. All of us expect the same kind of seamless and effortless experience that the best digital firms now (normally) provide.
Indeed, CEB’s multi-year analysis of tens of millions of customer interactions shows unequivocally that the best way to improve a company’s customer experience is to make dealing with the company as effortless as possible. If people find it difficult to make a purchase, get the answer to a question, or get a problem resolved, they are far less likely to purchase anything again from the company, and more likely to complain publicly on social media.
In Tech We Trust
One of the reasons that newer digital native firms (those that have always based their entire business model on technology) are good at customer experience is because so much of it is now technological: customers interact with the company via technology – the web, automated phone services etc – and all of the processes to gather, analyze, and use information to serve customers is dependent on tech. Entrenched incumbent firms who existed before the internet and digitization started to upend everything they did have had to retrofit technology on to existing processes.
In the eyes of customers, these more established firms have made the mistake of trying to improve individual customer “touch points” (such as filling out a form on a website or making sure a rep always has the customer’s recent interactions to hand before they take the customer off hold and start talking) rather than trying to improve customers’ “end-to-end experience” – what customers must go through to get what they want from the firm.
The central role that technology now plays in all this means that CIOs and other senior IT managers are in a unique position to use their company-wide perspective to help coordinate customer experience efforts, and to make IT far more agile to support this type of work.
Here are two examples of how leading IT teams have ensured the design of systems and processes improve the overall customer experience.
Using IT planning to put the customer first: A large insurance company knew that customers who owned many of its insurance products sometimes had trouble applying changes to all the products they owned. In response, the enterprise architecture (EA) team and the corporate customer experience team (which is not part of IT) collaborated to create four “customer journey” maps, each outlining all the steps a customer goes through to accomplish one of four common tasks (such as buying or changing a policy).
The EA team linked the customer journey maps to its business capability maps (the technological capabilities needed to support a particular business process, such as getting a quote for a new policy online) which helped them quickly diagnose the root cause of poor customer experience. This ensured the company quickly and accurately prioritized fixes to bad customer experiences.
Using customer feedback to make the most of IT investments: To understand whether its services were the ones customers wanted, a leading manufacturer identified the most important points of customer interaction or its “moments of truth”. Each moment of truth can be broken down into several discrete attributes that, taken together, determine a good or bad customer experience.
Gathering feedback about the user experience at these moments of truth helped the IT team identify where customer service investments would have the largest impact to improve overall satisfaction. This helped the firm significantly improve its ability to quickly redesign services to suit customer needs.