Customer experience management is a tough job. It involves understanding what your customers want and knowing when they want it.
The complexity of the customer experience has resulted in an increased demand for customer experience professionals. Google trends shows that the number of searches for ‘customer experience jobs’ has increased 40% from July 2013 to July 2014.
With this added complexity and increased demand, there’s now more pressure on your business to deliver a better customer experience. However, this can be difficult, so let’s look at six challenges you might face when attempting to deliver a world-class customer experience.
1. Delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels
Research by Rawson, Duncan, and Jones found that customers do not care about singular touch points across the customer journey. Instead, they care about their cumulative experiences across multiple touch points and channels over time.
This means customers no longer rate your service based off individual interactions – they look at the service you deliver as a whole and rate you based off that experience.
As a business, you need to focus your efforts on making each and every experience equally good. Whether a customer is engaging with you on their mobile, in store or over the phone, they should receive a consistently good experience.
Understanding this is one thing, but implementing it is another. It can be hard to get all your departments talking to one another to ensure you are delivering a consistent message.
One way to overcome this challenge is to make sure you enable cross-department collaboration. Your team need to be in constant communication and work collaboratively on new marketing and customer support initiatives.
2. Choosing the right technology to create better experiences
Esteban Kolskey, a customer strategist, suggests that technology can speed up existing processes and outcomes. He says, “this acceleration by itself (meaning nothing else changes) can shine a light on previously non-performing processes that are inefficient.”
But before you race off and try and use technology as a quick fix, Esteban warns that technology is not always the answer. He says, “Some of the experiences your customers expect are not based on more or better technology, but in changing the training plan, or changing a location, or even changing a manual process.”
The challenge lies in finding the right technology to improve the right parts of the customer experience. You cannot rely on technology as the answer to your poor customer experience. It is simply an enabler that can improve your experience and expand on the customer experience strategies you are implementing.
When evaluating technology, make sure you involve all key stakeholders across all departments of your business. Everyone needs to be working together to find the right technology that can enhance the customer experience from the first interaction, through to sales, through to support and on into accounting.
3. Creating a customer-first culture
As you begin to focus more on customers, your employees may find it hard to adjust priorities. Where in the past they may have been rewarded and incentivized around speed of service and number of support tickets closed, with a customer-first culture, they may now be expected to go the extra mile for customers, which will slow them down and reduce their speed.
As a manager driving this initiative, you need to be aware of these priorities and adjust your rewards and incentives based on the new preferred outcomes. It would not make sense to reward ‘total number of calls’ if a customer support team member is leaving inquiries half-answered.
This shift towards a customer-first culture can be a tough one to manage. In essence, a customer-first culture is formed through the values your business embodies. It will take time to readjust your company values and communicate them to your entire time. It is only through these values that your employees can acquire direction as to how they should properly engage, interact and communicate with customers.
A great example of a company that has a great customer-first culture is Zappos. CEO Tony Hsieh encourages his employees to break the rules in order to create amazing customer experiences. He helps employees to think outside the box and gives them extra flexibility to spend longer on customer interactions in order to create memorable experiences.
4. Systemizing a customer feedback process
Customer feedback is the essential component that you need in order to benchmark and improve the customer experience. Without feedback from your customers, you have very little hope of improving the experience.
This can be a challenge for businesses that don’t have a customer feedback system in place. You should have – at a minimum – three customer feedback loops, or three opportunities where you can gather feedback from customers. This way, you give yourself lots of chances to get insights that can help guide your customer experience decisions.
Here are some popular customer feedback loops to consider:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Quarterly business reviews
- Post-interaction surveys
- Comment boxes on website, mobile and in store
5. Understanding customer expectations and knowing how to exceed them
Customer expectations are constantly changing. A big challenge for businesses is keeping up with what their customers want and then knowing how to exceed those expectations.
This is where talking to customers is the best strategy. Listen to customers – ask them questions and analyze the data to see any trends in customer behavior. For example, if you notice more customers spending time on mobile, ask them why and if the experience on mobile is good or could be improved.
Often times, customer expectations are being set by other companies and your competitors. Keep an eye out for what other companies are doing and what’s being well received.
Try to stay ahead of your competition by implementing new initiatives based off the feedback from your customers and industry trends. The best way to exceed expectations is to stay one step ahead of everybody else.
6. Finding skilled customer experience professionals that can lead a strategy
Skilled customer experience professionals are in high demand. As more and more businesses begin to invest in customer experience, no longer is it a task that can be ‘added on’ to the service delivery or marketing manager’s role. Businesses are creating new roles and hiring professionals that specialize in customer experience.
Without the right expertise, you can miss opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Don’t be afraid to invest in upskilling your team – hire someone with existing experience or engage a third party that could design and implement a customer experience solution.
Interested in exploring more customer experience challenges? Try these resources: