Over the past 20 years I have spent a lot of time listening to loads of conversations about when, why, how and if we should use the word ‘customer’ as opposed to terms like prospect, passenger, member, student and the pros and cons of each . I will just simply call them customers.
The wiki definition of a customer suggests that a “customer is the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration”.
Over the past 5 years I’ve stopped spending time on semantics (internal view) and instead started focussing on listening and working out what my customers are saying (external view).
Customer coloured glasses
If we see the world through our customers’ lens I would hazard that they wouldn’t mind so much how we define them behind the scenes, but rather would care more about us being authentic and more concerned with how we can make their life and interactions with us a lot easier.
Making life easier for our customers is determined by how well we listen and respond to finding solutions to meet their needs and problems. It is also determined by how consistently we address these needs and problems across channels and how each channel appropriately satisfies the expectations at that point. For example, self-service is about speed and ease of access, the phone is about personalised care and taking time to address their needs.
How do you measure the customer experience?
To measure customer experience put on your customers’ lens – see the experience through their eyes – and map the experience to work out where you can improve.
I’ve spent many hours listening to the pros and cons of what to measure and how to measure customer experience in terms of customer satisfaction, net promoter, customer effort and so forth. I’m sure this are far less interesting to my customers than what I am going to do with the numbers and feedback I get from them.
So measure the aspects of customer experience based on the feedback you receive then take action to rectify it. When it comes to customer service I always work on the basis of glass half empty; it makes me focus on what else can we do rather than what are we doing well.
So I would say don’t measure it and then try to cut the numbers in a way that makes the business feel good about itself, rather use the numbers to highlight what your customers really think. In my experience the terrific senior execs I have worked with have always appreciated this honesty. I guess that’s what they expect from the customer advocate in the business. Measure it and then bare the warts and all of the story.
On a practical level I’d even suggest walking a mile in their shoes. Go into a branch, pick up the phone and ring your call centre, or jump online and try doing business with yourself. If a system process or procedure doesn’t make sense to you then it’s probably not going to make sense to your customer either.
Do the same thing online with other organisations to get good insights into what’s new and exciting across different industries and how that might make the experience in your industry a good deal sexier. This should not be a frightening experience for anyone involved.
The first step to customer-centricity
We should welcome the metrics because they tell what we are really doing and they give us the opportunity to do better. This is the first step to customer-centricity. Looking at it through your customers’ eyes there will always be something you can do better.
It’s important to not only measure customer experience but also to have an open dialogue with your customers wherever you can across all channels – webchat, click to chat, contact us pages, open ended surveys with a request for call backs etc. – then welcome an opportunity to close the feedback loop to find out what’s important to your customers so you can do something about it.
This is what makes customer experience so damn exciting – being the customer advocate against so many competing business priorities and seeing the tangible differences you can make in a customer’s experience.
Show your frontline what success looks like
In this age of big data, don’t forget to listen to your frontline. They are also your customers and they know what’s happening. They can provide the fine grain that metrics do not always provide.
Measurements in customer experience should give your frontline sight of what success looks like. That is, they can help explain why changes are being made and turn these metrics into tangible stories.
I doubt someone dealing with a customer on a daily basis thinks about the person in front of them as a detractor or promoter so it is important to use the numbers to create or promote change but don’t forget about the human element in the story telling process. Make sure your frontline knows what GREAT customer experience looks like and celebrate all successes with them.
We want to hear and make changes where it matters most to our customer, not us. To be really custom-centric we need to be making an impact at the service delivery level.
Sebastian Zagarella - Head of Student and Client Services UTS:INSEARCH
Sebastian is a dedicated advocate for service excellence developing and executing strategy in dynamic environments for the past 15 years. He brings this to his role as Head of Student and Client Services at UTS:INSEARCH and is directly responsible for developing and executing the customer experience strategy.