Companies hope to become more customer-centric, but don’t know how

Bill Cusick, President of Customerspectives, and author of "All Customers Are Irrational: Understanding What They Think, What They Feel and What Keeps Them Coming Back” speaks to Bryan Camoens on the major challenges companies are facing in customer experience. 


Bryan Camoens:

What are some of the challenges faced in trying to overcome the resistance to changes in your organization when trying to implement key initiatives in CRM or customer experience management?


Bill Cusick:

The main challenge is that companies, in general, have never been set up around the customer. The structure is usually built as a series of functional silos – sales and marketing, accounting, product, etc. Any real improvement in customer experience must cross these functional areas, and that’s simply not possible given all the "little kingdoms" within a typical organization. Putting the customer first means managers in all these departments must perform selflessly (i.e. for the good of the customer), and that just doesn’t usually happen.


Bryan Camoens:

Why do you think it’s difficult to achieve a 360 degree customer view and how can this issue be resolved?


Bill Cusick:

Again, employees in many functional areas within a typical business don’t even think about the customer as part of their normal day-to-day activity. Yet most of them – in some way – impact on the customer experience. The starting point to getting a real view of customer experience is to get a representative of each function into a room and create a "customer experience process map."


In other words, map out – step-by-step – the customer’s typical experience through the relationship. Identify all exposures and interactions, from the fancy ads and marketing messages, to the mundane (sending invoices, emails, etc.). I guarantee that two things will happen. First, there’s nobody in that room who will have thought of or understood everything that happens (or doesn’t) to a customer over the course of the relationship. And second, the group will identify some obvious opportunities or challenges with the customer experience, which can then be incrementally improved.


Bryan Camoens:

What are some of the trends that you foresee in the next couple of years in this aspect?


Bill Cusick:

I see companies that wish to become more customer-centric, but just don’t know how. In some instances, I predict businesses will invest more in the technology around CRM, which isn’t in itself a bad thing, but often it’s premature. Until a company understands more about their own strategy (specifically: what customer behavior are they trying to elicit in order to achieve their business goals) it should wait to invest thousands or millions in new systems.


Bryan Camoens:

Where do you see the future of Customer relationship management heading towards in the near future?


Bill Cusick:

I’m seeing more major "Customer Initiatives," which scares me. In general, big game-changing efforts, like "Year of the Customer" don’t work. Instead, companies that are taking a measured, incremental approach to improving results through better customer experience will win. To make real change around customer service, you need to change culture, and the way to do that is through pragmatic improvements to process, product and especially service. That leads to employees who buy in to what you are doing. And ultimately, if you can create a company with engaged employees, you’re ahead of about 98% of the businesses out there. So shoot for engaged employees through real, incremental change. Once they’re on your side, the ball will keep rolling.




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