By: Tim Tyler, Managing Partner, Ellipsis & Company
There is a lot of talk and debate about ‘Customer Experience’. What it isn’t, what it is…and more often than not, how a new and easy to install piece of marketing technology will solve all of your CX objectives!
Seriously though – sources of competitive advantage have moved from traditional capabilities such as distribution, R&D and technology, to customer experience. We firmly believe customer centricity is a competitive advantage...and that delivering relevant and engaging customer experiences is proof that your customer focused strategy is working.
So how do you deliver a great customer experiences?
Ellipsis Hierarchy of CX
Delivering a consistently good customer experience requires the execution of a hierarchy of sequenced requirements, analogous to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, critically though, each level must be satisfied before the next becomes important (an intelligently personalised email cannot make up for lack of stock, and a friendly call centre agent cannot make up for a regularly incorrect credit card statement).
Meeting Customer Needs
Reliably keeping promises builds trust and enables a relationship between the customer and the organisation. First, find out what is important to customers and then find out how you are delivering against this and fix the most important worst-performing services first. The aim is to highlight the gaps that exist between what organisations think are important to a good customer experience and how customers often disagree.
Make it Easy
The concept of using customer data combined with an automated customised experience has been around since Peppers and Rogers formalised ‘1-1 Marketing’. This concept ensures relevance, ease and personalisation. Minimising complexity requires companies to dynamically adapt to individual needs and preferences. We often get asked about the role of loyalty programs in the CX hierarchy and to answer a complex question simply…loyalty programs aren’t mandatory; they don’t make up for poor service / product quality but they do help personalise the experience. So if at all, programs tend to help at this stage of the CX pyramid.
Make it Enjoyable
Customers who take quality for granted, and quickly get used to being treated personally, now look for something more to distinguish a supplier worthy of their loyalty. If the customer experience is different and enjoyable enough, customers will talk about it. The goal is to design a customer experience that creates emotional connection, with advocacy as the objective. Tools that are often applied;
o Net Promoter Score measures how well you are doing at this level.
o Customer journey mapping will emphasis the optimisation of the customer experience.
o Gamification, which overtly introduces fun.
But this type of advocacy only works if the foundation is working. If you have destroyed customer trust with poor quality, broken promises or unfair charges... then you have destroyed the emotional foundations of advocacy.
What does this mean for Marketers?
For the marketing professional today, this means deliverables and reporting at all three levels of the pyramid, with rapid response procedures in place for service shortfalls at the bottom. These strategies and systems are mandatory in order to prosper in this ‘Age of the Customer’. A simple starting point is to identify the questions you should be asking at each stage of the pyramid, including:
Meeting needs, on time, in full, every time
o Do we reliably meet your needs?
o Do you trust us?
Ease, personalisation and minimal complexity
o Do we know who you are?
o Was it too hard to do business with us?
Enjoyment and advocacy
o Does dealing with us feel great?
o Would you recommend us?
We must not forget about the order of priority, before you build advocacy, you need to reduce unnecessary complexity, and before that, you must reliably meet customer needs. Without this foundation, no CRM system, points program, or social media presence will bring truly loyal customers.
Tim Tyler is a Managing Partner of Ellipsis & Company and former Chairman of Peppers & Rogers Asia. Tim has over 20 years developing customer centric strategies and successful customer experiences that build customer loyalty, trust and advocacy.