When was the last time you took a walk in your customer’s shoes and experienced your brand from their perspective? Having a clear understanding of their priorities and how those priorities connect to your bottom line is extremely important.

The reality is, our knowledge of the customer experience, customer expectations, and our ability to deliver against their needs, is in constant flux. If we get complacent we may find that our focus, metrics, and the systems we use to manage performance, lose their ability to create real positive change. If it has been more than 2 years since your last deep-dive into the customer journey and the associated measurement and support systems, it is time for fresh perspective.

Are you asking the right questions? Do you have the right processes in place to listen and respond if customers have issues? Are you timely in addressing customer concerns? Are you listening across all of the relevant online, social, and conventional channels? Are you aggregating and disseminating information in effective ways? Do you have a clear picture of reality in terms of your ability to execute against your standards and training? Is it clear to all what the true priorities are?

These are just some of the important questions to consider. That said, even if you recognize the importance of the customer experience, it can be easy to get lost in the daily grind and lose sight of important details. If any of the following conditions exist, now is the time for a second opinion regarding the efficacy of your customer experience practices. To make the review process easier, we’d like to share a list of telltale signs that it is time to revisit your customer strategy.

  1. Low engagement in customer experience programs with customers and/or employees and managers;
  2. Low executive engagement or visibility into customer experience program metrics;
  3. Flat or declining customer experience scores;
  4. A high degree of variability in performance across your brand;
  5. A lack of certainty in the connection between scores and a desired business outcome;
  6. Dated program design, branding and PR strategies;
  7. Reliance on a limited number of channels to engage customers;
  8. High or improving scores, with inverse financial outcomes.

If effectively designed, your customer experience program can be a highly scientific tool to manage your business, placing the wants and needs of your customers at the forefront of decision-making. By deploying best practices in combination you will elevate your chance of success, and ensure you maximize the financial return on your investment of time and energy in creating great customer experiences. 

Contact our experts today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation that will help you determine whether it’s time to revisit your customer experience strategy.

 

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Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.

 

You've painstakingly crafted your brand, your organization lives and breathes its values, and customers are responding to its message. Protecting that brand image is now paramount. As business booms, so does the need to establish processes to interact with customers, secure feedback, answer questions and resolve issues. You need a contact center. Whether your approach is home grown or outsourced, it’s imperative to institute an engagement strategy and to measure how effectively the contact center is maintaining your brand image and recovering unhappy customers.

After all, loyalty is your currency. Yes, coupons and gift cards can demonstrate that you value feedback and that you are willing to acknowledge bad experiences and provide some recompense. However, many consumers simply want to know that your organization cares about their concerns and acts upon them.

As you evaluate your own contact center or consider partners for outsourcing, keep in mind three criteria to inform decisions: 

1) Be Responsive

Negative experiences impact a customer’s willingness to return, which impedes the future relationship (revenues). When a frustrated customer wants to tell you about their bad experience, your brand needs to be available to listen. To this end, your organization must have effective workforce management and agent engagement measures.

KPI: Service Level is a measure of how quickly customers are served and Abandonment Rate measures customers who were unable to engage you. If agents are connecting with customers 80% of the time in less than 20 seconds, and no more than 5% of consumers abandon their call, then you have hit a solid performance level for engaging with customers.

2) Make resolution a priority

An apology for a poor service experience is not a differentiator - everyone does it. Your customers are looking for a connection. Resolution requires that customers feel they’ve been heard and had a great resolution. Without that, customers may defect to a competitor.

KPI: First Call Resolution measures the percentage of customer contacts that ended in resolution at time of engagement (no follow-up required). Strive for this number to exceed 90%. Using a post-call automated survey that specifically asks the customer, “Are you satisfied with the proposed resolution?” will help you evaluate your resolution activities and options. First Call Resolution should match customer sentiment on resolution offered to be in the sweet spot.

3) Trust your best talent with customer relationships

Service agents are brand ambassadors and must be up to the challenge. Highly skilled, trained and motivated agents need only apply. As mentioned, customers expect responsiveness, a personalized connection and action. They also expect their service agents to be highly knowledgeable and empowered to resolve issues. Remember that customers have already had one poor experience – they should not be set up to potentially encounter a second one.

KPI: Ensure every customer service associate has completed and passed with top marks all available customer-handling and tool-utilization training. 100% complete = Certification. Strive to ensure 100% of agents remain certified at all times when facing customers.

Contact centers are fertile ground for the expression of positive customer experience and the championship of customer concerns. If you've not given a contact center strategy correct thought, you could be tarnishing your brand dramatically, and without measurement you may not know it.

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Ryan Stewart is the General Manager, Market Force Center of Excellence in Winnipeg and oversees customer surveys and contact center services in Winnipeg, leveraging experience at companies like Sears and Staples. His mission? Deliver operational excellence to our clients. 

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To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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