A holistic picture of customer experience
Companies have long been focusing on individual touchpoints that collectively complete the customer journey. As effective as this method is, however, it might often lead to a distorted picture as it might seem that customers are happy when in reality, they’re not. Organizations that are able to skillfully manage the entire experience gain a lot of advantages like improved customer satisfaction. This ultimately leads to increased revenue, greater employee satisfaction, and reduced churn.So, how does a company broaden its horizons to look at the bigger picture and understand whether customers are actually satisfied? In this article, we will take the example of a leading pay-TV provider, analyze the various steps that it had taken to understand its customers’ hidden apprehensions, and see whether the same can be implemented across different businesses. We’ll also refer to a few real-life examples in which companies of various sizes and types have effectively combat this issue.The external factors that were affecting the business of this leading TV pay-provider were a maturing market, heightened competition, and escalating costs. Factors like pricing or competitor’s offerings often played a major role in luring customers away. The common ways to lure customers back were both expensive and short-term. This made the executives look for an alternative approach, which in this case, was customer experience.
As they dug into the problem, they realized that they had long been depending on metrics like data from call centres, website bounce rates, feedback from field services for tracking customer satisfaction. And the scores were consistently high. But, according to the data from focus groups, the overall satisfaction level was low when the end-to-end experience was considered. Making the situation worse, the positive feedback from individual interactions failed to motivate employees to change their overall approach.
As they dug further, they realized that customer satisfaction was never about just a single interaction. They understood that it was about the cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and across multiple channels over time. Though the individual interactions with immediate response from the employees worked in a smooth manner, what the previous approaches lacked was solving the underlying problem and addressing the fundamental concerns. So, though the CX score on every single touchpoint was fine, the overall customer experience was affected.
Unfortunately, most of the companies fail to see the bigger picture.
Analyzing the overall customer experience was a challenge But, it was also important to make sure that the company is not only able to create a competitive advantage but also satisfy the present customers. So, what were the steps that they adopted?
Embed Customer Journeys in Operating Models
One would easily agree that the complexity and the number of touchpoints follow a linear relationship. The challenge was that such a problem was difficult to recognize given the siloed structure of the different functional groups in an organization. But we must remember that this primarily shapes the way a company interacts with its customers. For example, while closing the sales, the sales personnel were helping the customers choose from a wide option of packages, resolving other technical queries. However, they did not have any idea of what happened to the customer post the sale.
As pointed out by Neil Patel, a big name in the field of digital marketing and customer experience,
For too many companies, the only times they talk to their customers are when events like these occur:
The company wants to upsell or suggestive sell the customer.
The customer has a problem and needs to talk to the company.
Common post-sales concerns included doubts about promotions, and questions about the installation process, hardware options, and channel lineups. However, these calls went straight to the call centre. The sales team never got feedback that could help them fix their initial pitch.
To form a coherent process throughout, companies need to adjust their touch-point approach and focus on cross-functional structures. They first need to evaluate the journeys and identify the ones in which they need to excel. Further, they must measure their present performance, cultivate cross-functional approaches to solve these problems, and finally sustain the initiatives by bringing about a change in the overall culture.
Understand Key Journeys
Let’s look at it in this way. Imagine a situation where you’re planning a road trip to a neighbouring town. What are the key steps that you’d follow? You’ll probably first open maps and see the approximate time that it would take to reach this particular place. Next, you’ll check your schedule and ensure that you choose a comfortable time. You might do some research to find out the suggestions of others who had travelled to the town previously. You will focus on important parameters like the road conditions, the number of petrol pumps, and interesting road-side food joints to satisfy your hunger. As we can see, there is a lot of planning and research that has to be done.
Now, let’s consider a corporate context. The following are the two steps (based on executive working sessions and existing research) that will help you to map out the key journey of a customer. First, conduct research on customer issues, and then, solve them.
The research is fragmented across different functions and often includes data like the number and type of customers in a given journey, the major grievances reaching the call centre, and other perceived gaps in performance. To conduct research, start with collecting first and third party data on customer behaviour from market research, consumer surveys, observed actions, and other sources. After you’ve got the data together, weigh and rank the importance of touchpoints. Understand the key touchpoints that lead to major complaints.
Then, go for a top-down approach where you’d involve the leadership team to generate support for improvement programs and broader organizational changes. This would set the tone for further transformation. A top-down approach can be a good way for companies that are trying to solve only specific problems. However, for bringing about a transformational change, one needs to follow a bottom-up approach. Simultaneously, one must create a detailed road map for each journey. It must describe the process from start to finish, consider the business impact of optimizing the journey, and lay out a commonsense, feasible sequence of initiatives.
Analyze Current Performance
Once a corporation has known its key client journeys, it should examine each intimately in order to grasp the causes of current performance. This deep dive involves extra research, along with client and worker focus teams and decision observation. Combined with the initial bottom-up analysis, it permits the corporates to map the vital permutations of each journey. The mapping exercise conjointly exposes departures from the ideal client expertise and their causes. It sometimes reveals policy decisions or company processes that accidentally generate adverse results.
A case in point is a telecom company that was facing 50% customer dissatisfaction. Executives knew the “provisioning journey”—the method of putting in fixed-line service at a customer’s home—was a priority and could be a major contributor to the overall sales. While most of the customers rated the service an 8 or 9 on a scale of 10, a few rated it as 1 and 2.
On deeper analysis, it was observed that the dissatisfaction was caused by delayed installations. The cause for the delays stemmed from back end problems such as lack of motivation and incentives, and salary issues. This proves that employee satisfaction is also an integral part of providing a good customer experience.
Redesign the Experience
Even after the company has identified the major points that are the roots of dissatisfaction, leaders should avoid the tendency to jump in and fix the problem. Most of the problems have their root in disconnects amongst the functional teams. Therefore, it would better if all the teams come together, visualize the process from the beginning till the end, and then figure out a way to fix the problem. The solution is the last step and it is the process in between that adds major value in changing the attitudes of the employees.
A case in point is one such meeting of a company that is into B2B SaaS solutions. It was during such a meeting that the lead UI designer and the associate digital marketer met for the first time. This was primarily because the designer worked remotely and there was no clear communication between them apart from a few phone calls. The problem was that the company was not generating enough inbound leads from the website. After the digital marketer showed the designer all the data from the analytics report, both of them realized that there were more than 14 clicks before the customer could request a demo call. By all means, this is a huge number. Using tools like Hotjar, they analyzed the points from which the users were dropping off. From this exercise, the designer definitely got clarity about the ways in which he should revamp the website.
After all the planning and the realization part is over, comes the most important part – executing. It is quite ironic that the majority of organizations fail to do this effectively, which is often the last stage before a change is witnessed. Two major changes need to be brought about
1. Changing the organization and its processes to deliver excellent journeys
2. Setting the measurable metrics with respect to the journey and not just touchpoints.
Implementing these two changes is perhaps most crucial as well as difficult. It sets the way for changing the top-down approach to a bottom-up approach. To enable the organizations to break from the functional biases that hinder change, a leadership team needs to be set up. Further, it must be guided by the executive team to steer the design and implementation.
The pay TV provider promoted a functional leader who would report directly to the CEO. While that was their solution, some companies can opt for more permanent organizational change and can leave the cross-functional change teams in place to ensure sustained checks and balances to the natural tensions across functions. Optimizing a single customer journey is tactical. But, changing the attitude of the employees and re-structuring the culture is something that is transformational and strategic.
The applications of these processes vary amongst organizations and it might take a long time to become truly effective. However, once implemented, they certainly help in setting the tone in which the entire organization or brand is perceived and can be the force that brings about competitive advantage.
Do you agree? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.