customer experience successMost things in life need ALL their ingredients to function as intended. Miss the eggs in a cake recipe, forget earbuds for your iPod nano, omit the submit button on a form, arrive at an airport without your luggage, get no sleep in a 24-hour period — you get the picture. If your recipe for customer experience ROI does not call for 3 types of action, it will probably flop. The 3 necessary action ingredients are (1) Micro Action, (2) Macro Action, AND (3) Cultural Action. Here’s the recipe:

1) Micro Customer Experience Action
Closing the loop with a customer about a low rating on a survey or an issue they’ve contacted the company about is in almost everyone’s recipe for customer experience improvement. Omni-channel First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a widespread goal of most customer care groups, regardless of whether the customer called, emailed, texted, posted, or engaged in a service chat or self-service. Also, desktop dashboards showing real-time customer survey feedback are commonplace among a variety of managers in most companies, empowering them to follow-up about dissatisfaction and address issues specific to each manager’s use case. Technology vendors have helped customer experience managers understand the importance of micro customer experience action — it is “micro” because it acts on issues one customer at a time or one department at a time. Addressing one at a time can help you save one customer at a time from defecting to your competition. Solving issues within one manager’s domain at a time helps chip away at problems.

Why ROI Requires the Other 2 Action Types:
(A) When one customer voices something, you can bet that they represent dozens or thousands in your customer base.
(B) The investment in technology and time to address one at a time is high. Retained customers may or may not offset the investment.
(C) The problems tend to be perpetual, requiring ongoing effort, money, and time through infinity. Hidden costs of perpetual issues are employee productivity, employee turnover, lost opportunities, customer trust erosion, and turnover of customers who didn’t tell the company about their issue.

2) Macro Customer Experience Action
Closing the loop with all customers about something that is universally desired is a matter of course for marketers and executives when it involves an innovation, especially when more cash is required by customers to access it. Less common — and equally or more important to customers — is closing the loop with customers about the company’s commitment to resolve a universal pain, or progress reports about resolving or preventing a universal issue.

It’s the universal pains that most strongly shape the customer experience, brand perceptions, remedial expenses, and customer churn.

  • Customer Experience: first impressions are enduring. You may not get a second chance. Or it may be a long time or very costly before mis-steps are forgotten and forgiven.
  • Brand Perceptions: collective agreement about experiences reinforces what your brand stands for at-large, regardless of what you say to the contrary, or perhaps even more-so as you try to claim what doesn’t add up for customers.
  • Remedial Expenses: anything you put money into that addresses something that didn’t go right in the first place is remedial. Many marketing and service technologies and programs are in fact shoring up the shortfalls of product/service creation and delivery groups in the company (as well as alliance partners, suppliers and channel members) and policies and processes of support functions in the company.
  • Customer Churn: mis-match of the way the company works — not individual touch-points — is the biggest reason for customers to take their business elsewhere. Forgiveness of occasional frailties is common among customers — they’ve been conditioned to put up with a lot. But the overall lack of “fit” between the company and what the customer is striving to get done in their life or business is what seals the deal, one way or the other.

Macro customer experience action addresses a universal customer pain and typically requires more than one group to collaborate in discovering the true source of the issue, and in preventing recurrence of the issue. Prevention is the name of the game, the antidote to the perception, expense, and churn symptoms listed above. Cross-functional teaming, brainstorming, validating, solving and creating are the sub-ingredients of macro customer experience action. It is systematic (following logical steps) and systemic (holistic, acknowledging the connections and ripple effects of diverse factors).

Examples of companies doing this well include Applied Materials, EMC, GE, SunTrust, tw telecom, and VMware.

Why ROI Requires the Other 2 Action Types:
(A) Time needed to prevent recurrence of universal pains can be many months or even a couple of years. Micro action fills immediate needs that are necessary to maintaining customer productivity and relationships.
(B) Big changes can be impossible without cultural support that reinforces, rather than works against, cross-functional collaboration.
(C) Backsliding can happen to any change unless cultural action makes it easy for the change to become a way of life in the company.

3) Cultural Customer Experience Action
Engaging employees in customer experience insights, touchpoints, and appreciation is recognized widely as important to success. Engaging employees in cross-functional customer experience action on an ongoing basis is seldom seen, at least in a systematic and systemic way, especially among non-customer-facing groups. Employee engagement for the sake of itself is necessary, yet across-the-board employee engagement within the context of customer experience excellence will be more meaningful for all parties, and will yield much more powerful results for everyone.

Cultural customer experience action is about centering employees’ attention and behaviors on customers’ well-being. And it’s about centering the business on customers’ well-being. Accordingly, customer experience insights can be intertwined with the company’s vision, mission, values, stretch goals, structure, all-hands meetings, ops reviews, staff meeting agendas, performance reviews, courses, roles and responsibilities, team recognition, incentives, promotion criteria, investment criteria, and so on.

Why ROI Requires the Other 2 Action Types:
(A) Even the most perfect organizations have mis-steps that require micro customer experience action. Sometimes mis-steps occur beyond the control of the company: weather, customer error, etc.
(B) External changes — socio-economic, legal, technological, political, and other forces — require macro customer experience action to evolve with the times, to maintain customer experience excellence.

Your Recipe for Success
For best results, make sure you have all the ingredients prepped before starting. For those companies that have already started, the good news is that, unlike cake baking, customer experience management allows you to catch up with the missing ingredients — and better sooner rather than later. When these 3 ingredients are combined, your ROI has substantially greater potential and acceleration, but most importantly staying-power that keeps on paying off at reduced cost levels for a long time to come.

Read more:

What is Customer Experience Strategy?

Customer Value Creation Essentials

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