How to know what the customer wants ?




People come into Customer Experience Management from a number of of different professions. Some come from a research background, some from a customer service background and some come from a marketing background, to name but a few. Because of their different origins, each tends to have a slightly different approach to Customer Experience Management.The first stage of any Customer Experience program is pretty much to understand what the current state of play is.

For those people coming from a customer service or operations background, their instinct is typically to carry out some kind of diagnostic exercise – to do a walk-through of the business, looking at the call centre and/ or sales operations – typically the customer-facing areas of the business. However for those people coming from more of a research background, their typical approach would be to undertake some kind of research exercise to understand what the customers’ current levels of satisfaction are, how likely they would be to recommend or repurchase; or what their expectations are. But which of two approaches is the best one?

Research or Diagnostics

The diagnostic angle certainly has a great deal of merit. Having an experienced professional looking over the business and making recommendations on how to improve, enhance or even remodel the operations can prove to be invaluable. I have seen dozens of experienced consultants going into call centres, monitoring their performance metrics (e.g. AHT; Call, Wait & Wrap; Hold time, ASA, etc.) and behaviours; and then making recommendations and implementing management and training changes that have significantly improved business performance. However the main weakness of this approach is that it doesn’t involve customers. At the end of the day, customers are the only people who know what they want their experience to be like. Going purely down the diagnostic route doesn’t tell you what customers’ expectations or ideal scenarios look like.

The research approach clearly does include the customer as part of the understanding phase; however it has weaknesses too. Customers are usually not business experts. Customers can usually tell you what they don’t like about your business; however they cannot always tell you what your business should be like. Ask customers about their expectations and a significant proportion of them will tell you that they want everything for nothing, i.e. your product or service without paying for it. This clearly doesn’t work if you want to stay in business for any significant amount of time!

Clearly the question posed in the title of this blog isn’t a fair one, as both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. The ideal, of course, is to use both methodologies in parallel. Using a combination of both is arguably more of a strategic marketing based approach to the issue. With a more strategic marketing based approach, the understanding phase of a Customer Experience program should ideally consider:

  • a full micro- and macro-environmental assessment
  • a full internal audit, including 7P and 7S analysis;
  • a research audit to understand CSAT, NPS, Brand Health and other existing data sources
  • new consumer research to understand customer expectations

What’s your approach?

To know how we can help you understand your customers better and deliver exceptional customer experience, contact us.

The problem with customer experience




Happy young businesswoman with headset isolated over white backgAt all of the networking events and exhibitions for the call center industry, for example, I hear talk about Customer Experience Management; however in the vast majority of instances, it is just IT companies simply attempting to sell in some kind of magical solution that will somehow, overnight, solve all of their client’s woes. The reality is usually as far from that as you can get.

Despite there being many millions of pounds spent each year on CRM systems, Predictive Diallers & IVR technology; for many consumers, the Customer Experience is sadly just as bad as it ever was!

I’m not suggesting that, if used properly, IT solutions cannot help create a good customer experience – First Direct Bank is a case in point as to how technology can be used properly to help create a great customer experience . It is, however, the word “help” that is key here.

In many cases, a new system or process is seen as the solution rather than a means to an end. A system should, of course, never be seen as more than just a tool to help create a customer experience. It is not the tool itself, but how it is used that determines exactly how good an experience is achieved.

The main problem with Customer Experience is that most people who claim to work in this area forget the starting point, which, of course, should be the customer. Customer Experience, put in the most simple of terms, is about seeing things from the customer’s perspective; and then trying to make changes to the way that you do business in order that you can both improve the customer’s experience and maximise the business’ profitability.

If it is a new system that helps you to change the way you do business for the positive to both meet the customer’s expectations and improve your profitability, then the tool is being utilised properly. However, in many (if not most) instances, they are not.

Rather than an organisation putting their hand in their pocket to fork out on an expensive IT solution, maybe they should just spend a little time walking in the shoes of their customer…

Tell us does your organization thinks IT solution = customer experience.

To know how you can optimize your processes to deliver exceptional customer experience, contact us.