Observations and Musings on Customer Experience

Customer centricity is a hot topic in the industry. Everyone wants to be customer centric; in fact I’ve never met a business leader who would say their company isn’t customer centric. But what does that look like?

To me, it means running your company from the customer’s viewpoint. What is it like from their perspective to do business with you? The key to driving your organization towards customer centricity is to focus on the customer experience. After all, that’s how your customers’ measure you. 
I came across an interesting paper by Kathleen Peterson of PowerHouse Consulting that looks at how to deliver extraordinary customer experience. The paper is a collection of her observations and musings from more than 20 years of consulting work. It covers a wide range of topics: training and coaching, technology, executive leadership, strategic goals and more.
Here are a couple of sections in the paper that I found particularly interesting. The first warns against creating a customer service labyrinth, something that I’ve seen happen all too often. As we provide more service options to our customers, we have to be careful not to create a vast maze where they can get lost. As Kathleen puts it, “Too often, we design technology to create speed; instead, we enable frustration and aggravation.” Looking at the whole customer service chain is the only way of making sure you aren’t creating a labyrinth.
Another section looks at self-service initiatives and discusses elimination vs. automation. She uses an interesting story to illustrate the point about a customer service group charged with increasing IVR handled calls from 20 to 30 percent. Rather than looking to see what was driving calls to the IVR, they decided to just remove the zero-out option. In reality a large number of calls were about billing errors. The end-result to the company would have been much better to eliminate these errors rather than automating the inquiry process.
Kathleen sums the paper up this way, “One thing I have absolutely learned is that it is not the business or the market that determines whether the Customer Experience is exceptional or excruciating. It is the organization, the people, the processes and the technologies working together that make an Extraordinary Customer Experience.” What Senior Management Needs to Know and Do About the Customer Experience is sponsored by Verint and available for free.

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