If you missed part one of this blog series, you can find it here. If you don’t have time for all that, here’s a quick summary:
- Successful brands thrive on creating lasting customer relationships grounded in empathy, trust and transparency.
- You need to understand what it’s really like to be your customer – step into their shoes.
- Your customers no longer go through a linear customer journey. They can enter or exit a journey at multiple stages and switch channels whenever they choose.
- Brands need to switch focus from just selling to customers to serving and wholly understanding them.
- It’s crucial that you segment customers from a behavioral, not demographic, perspective.
Consider the employee experience and map out the total experience
Investing in employee experience plays a critical role in your brand’s ability to win both externally and internally and to drive greater customer and employee satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
Demotivated, frustrated employees who lack the right support, tools and data to serve their customers are likely to create a negative sentiment in their customer interactions. So, it’s crucial that brands also listen to their employees’ voices, including their sentiments, frustrations and how their lives can be made easier.
A common example I’ve seen with quite a few consumer goods organizations is the introduction of order bots or self-service capabilities, where customers can place orders in a simplified way.
However, in the backend, employees don’t always have the right details to fulfill orders or fulfill pre-agreed discounts and prices. Often, bundling information exists in different places which actually extends the overall order fulfillment process internally, and, ultimately, the customer journey and buying cycle.
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Given the recent extensive resignation phenomenon and the global talent shortage, it’s crucial that we think beyond customer experience and instead focus on total experience.
Total experience is a business strategy that connects the customer experience, employee experience, user experience and multi experience disciplines.
Look at “experience” at different stages of a customer journey and consider these four key pillars:
- Customer experience: Identify your customer’s feelings and any kind of interaction they have with your brand at different touch points.
- How do they use your product? How do they interact with your services? What’s their sentiment?
- Employee experience: Identify where customers and employees interact with each other. What is causing friction?
- Is it a lack of data, skills or tech? What do we need to do to enable employees to provide a better customer experience? What do we need to do to create a more seamless experience for employees themselves?
- User experiences: Identify the usability of your services and products.
- How easy is it to navigate through the product and services that your brand provides? Is your interface user-friendly? Are your customers able to get in touch with you easily?
- Multi experience: Identify the overall experience that you offer to customers cross-channel.
- Are you able to provide an experience in your e-commerce that is as seamless (or the same) as in store? Are the touch points connected?
- Are you able to blend online and offline channels seamlessly and create a connected CX experience and an integrated view of the customer interactions for employees?
The importance of acting as one team
Needless to say, to bring all of the above together, creating a strategy for unified customer engagement across a consumer goods (CG) organization is key. Integral to this strategy is connecting the front and back office, and as mentioned before, shifting from selling to the customer to serving the customer.
Firstly, this would require implementing customer empathy training to help all employees understand the challenges that customers are facing and what they can do to make things easier.
Secondly, a cross-functional steering committee to manage a customer innovation roadmap needs to be put together. I see more and more CG organizations in each market creating steercos across sales, marketing, brand management, category management and IT. This facilitates collaboration and works to improve the overall customer experience.
The wonderful side effect of this approach is optimizing decision-making which accelerates experimentation and transformation.
Adopt a customer-centric data culture
In parallel to streamlining people and operations, building a deliberate strategy to achieve a single source of customer truth is imperative in creating a superior CX experience. This would help every department and employee gain a better understanding of your customers.
Key to this step is placing customer insights at the center of the operational transformation. You need to provide access to trusted data sources across the customer’s journey that would enable your employees to easily find customer information.
You can expand your ability to understand and respond to customers by developing the capability to gather data and insights from both indirect and inferred sources and enhance customer analytics capabilities.
I see some leading brands also investing in a “CX Center of Excellence” to cultivate data expertise and promote the customer’s voice.
Many companies say (or believe) they know their customer – but do they really? The ultimate test is whether or not you have implemented the above-mentioned strategies. Crucially, it’s about leading your customer and employee experience with empathy, plus getting (and giving employees) access to the right data to provide customer insights so they can serve customers better.
The importance of understanding what it’s like to be in your customer’s shoes cannot be overstated. Even, or especially if you’re in a C-suite role, have you actually gone through the steps of anonymously ordering a product or service from your company? Try it, and the results might surprise you.
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