You know a good customer experience when, well, you’re experiencing it. But what goes into making it happen in the first place? And what does it take for CX to be so good it wins awards? Looking at recent award winning examples, several key trends stand out.
One point of contact
How many times have you contacted a service provider with an issue you diligently explained, then repeated ad nauseum to a different person each time you called to follow up? It’s inefficient for the customer as well as the company providing the service. Smart companies are cottoning on to this. Telstra, Australia’s most awarded customer experience provider in 2014, is one of these companies. When people visit Telstra stores or call its contact centres, they are provided with the name and contact details of the customer service representative so they can get in touch directly. Telstra also assigns customers moving home or office a dedicated consultant. As anyone who has ever attempted to move a phone or internet connection will tell you, having one point of contact in this situation makes one heck of a difference.
Empower your employees
The UK’s Northern Gas Network was recognised for it’s outstanding customer experience at the 2014 UK Customer Experience Awards for empowering its employees. The company, which delivers gas to 2.7 million customers across the North of England, found key customer satisfaction issues were linked to feedback from team members who didn’t have the power to do anything about them. The company made it a priority to give its people the tools they needed to resolve the issues. But they haven’t stopped there. The gas provider also encourages employees to devise and implement their own solutions to customer issues. This has helped improve customer scores to the point where Northern Gas Networks now outperforms some of the UK’s top retailers. The company’s head of talent, Gareth Bullen, said: “It’s about recognising that we’re all adults with our own minds and that we don’t need to be told what to do in order to make a difference. That power lies within every individual in the business.”
A metric for change
Forget about implementing Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for the sake of it. For the uninitiated, NPS come from asking your customers how likely they are to recommend you. Someone who is highly likely to do so is considered to be a ‘promoter’ of your business. Given the potential for NPS to generate new business referrals, this all-important metric shouldn’t be taken lightly. Another reason to get serious with NPS is the power it has to alter the mindset of your organisation.
In 2012, Telstra rolled out NPS under the guidance of Robert Nason. Nason has been described as Telstra’s customer advocacy champion. The company’s Bigger Picture Sustainability report shows its commitment to NPS continues. It reads: “NPS is much more than a measurement tool. It is about fostering a way of doing business that drives customer loyalty and advocacy.”
At Telstra’s annual general meeting last year, CEO David Thodey said: “Customer advocacy is our highest priority and we see it as not just serving our customers better, but providing such great service that they are willing to be advocates for Telstra. We are committed to building Telstra into a business that has the customer at the centre of every decision, every action, every opportunity, every day.”
During the 2014 financial year, Telstra saw its NPS scores improve by three points. The telco also saw its profits go up by 14.6% to $4.3bn during the same period. While the two figures are undoubtedly linked, the way in which the company is embracing NPS suggests Telstra is a changed organisation.
Answer people’s questions and solve their problems
The 2011 Oracle Customer Experience Impact Report found customer service agents fail to answer consumer questions 50% of the time. In addition, 79% of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their comments ignored. These dreadful statistics go right to the heart of the customer experience. Answering people’s questions – and solving their problems – seems like a basic function for any customer-facing organisation. But for businesses with a large customer base, this must be a hugely daunting task. Still, companies that have made an effort to find a way are seeing a return on investment. The UK’s Northern Gas Network implemented a ‘90 in 60’ initiative which sought to resolve 90% of customer issues in the first 60 minutes. When the program was introduced, only 10% of issues were resolved in the timeframe. The target was met within a year which goes some way to explaining the company’s much-improved customer scores.
Turn issues into opportunities
Singaporean telecommunications provider Singtel has a customer base of 500 million people. One of the metrics the company uses to measure customer satisfaction is the number of complaints and compliments it receives. In 2013, complaints increased by 73% due to network disruptions. To address this Singtel, which was recognised at the 2015 Customer Experience Management Excellence Awards taking home the trophy for best customer experience team, invited customers to help it better understand how service availability impacted them via a Facebook page for network feedback.
Think customer convenience
Making things easy for your customers is another common theme among award winning CX examples. Because applying for a gas connection can be an involved and lengthy process in the UK, in response to customer feedback, Northern Gas Networks launched a ‘Connections’ app. The app was developed with 25-44-year-old customers in mind who told the company they wanted to apply in their own time and receive updates on their mobiles. Historically this age group had been the least satisfied customer segment and is now one of Northern Gas Networks’ most satisfied.
Telstra has implemented several convenience based initiatives for its customers including the Telstra ‘New Phone Feeling’ service which gives phone users the option to upgrade to a new smartphone every 12 months. The company has also introduced a series of phone plans that offer the freedom of no fixed contract, with generous inclusions as well as the option to get next day replacement of lost and stolen devices.
If customers are the greatest asset of your business, why not recognise them for it. Last year Telstra went out of its way to say thanks to its customers with the ‘Thanks a Million’ program. The telco’s staff personally called one million customers and wrote to a further 1.9 million to thank them for their business and listen to their feedback. Any issues raised were followed up within two working days.
Having seen what can be done, it appears offering an award winning customer experience is well within your organisation’s grasp. Now to get started…
Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.