Per results from recent Voice of Customer (VoC) research, Customer Experience strategies are failing to deliver the quality of experience customers expect. Notwithstanding today’s technology, tools and analytics, it is sobering that customers are not experiencing a significantly improved customer experience.
Following are the top 6 Customer Experience mistakes that emerged from our analysis of thousands of hours of VoC research our firm, ERDM, conducted for clients such as MassMutual, Norton AntiVirus, IBM, HMS National, Songza and others;
1. Customers do not feel that marketers are trying to understand the customer journey from the customer’s point of view. To many, it feels like “customer journey” is another term for mapping the sales opportunity journey.
2. It is obvious to customers that companies are doing things piecemeal. Examples cited in the research include;
- Improving multichannel marketing but not fixing customer service.
- Installing CRM systems which only automate bad behaviors but don’t improve the quality of communications and experiences.
- Building Preference Centers which don’t ask the right preference questions.
Thought Leader Insight:
Scott Frey, President, PossibleNow;
“Install an enterprise wide preference center. Go beyond preference centers for individual channels such as email and create an easy-to-use portal where customers can create individual profiles, select topics of interest, preferred delivery channels and pace of communications. Preference centers provide the ability for customers to maintain their preferences as their interests change over time. Connect the preference center to all customer touch points”.
3. Customers want marketers to move from thinking about individual campaigns to a holistic engagement strategy with proactive value added touches at key points important to the customer, not the marketer. High quality experiences must be maintained throughout the relationship and per a quote from a VoC interview, “Not just when you are selling or renewing”.
Thought Leader Insight:
Eric Nystrom, Dell, Director, Social Media Services Group;
“We need to think in terms of engaging customers at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This causes a shift from one-way communications to conversations and to think about content differently. Customers expect to engage with subject matter experts and empowered employees, not corporate spokespeople. Content needs to be relevant, interesting and engaging…and always on”.
4. Conflicting metrics for measuring success; Marketers are looking at short term sales and ROI from individual campaigns. Customers are judging companies based on the quality of the overall experience, over time.
5. Frustratingly poor data. Customers want marketers to improve the quality of their data and shift from transaction-based information to opt-in preference-based information which will drive truly personalized communications and offers.
Thought Leader Insight:
Andrew Bailey, Marketing Principal, FedEx;
“FedEx has always valued the customer experience and continues to make strides in providing an optimal one. FedEx works to allow customers to tell us how often they’d like to receive email, and on which specific topics. This helps spark a dialogue that allows us to better serve our customers by meeting their individual needs with information for the right person, containing the right content, in the right place and at the right time”.
6. Viewing Customer Experience as being about a few campaigns, will ensure you’ll fail. Successful companies view Customer Experience as a transformation of their culture, impacting every business process. Culture change is hard but is the longest lasting. Individual campaigns do not result in sustained change.
MassMutual is an excellent case study of a company which has committed to transforming the customer experience with the goal of creating customers for life. They began by conducting Voice of Customer research to understand how different customer segments define deeper relationships with MassMutual Retirement Services at key points in their lifecycle.
Thought Leader Insight:
Kris Gates, VP Customer Experience, MassMutual Retirement Services;
“Based on the learnings from the VoC research, we have redesigned the way we look at relationships with customers. Taking a Learn – Pilot – Scale approach to our marketing efforts, we already have several VoC research-based initiatives underway. These range from redefining how we view the customer-focused value of CRM platforms and our data, to campaign targeting and preference based communications.
One of the findings from our recent VoC research indicated that our customers wanted communications driven by their preferences and interests. We used the rollout of our new educational video series SmartView,to measure the difference in response between mass emails to an entire list versus preference-driven offers to those who had opted in and told us their preferences and interests. Results from customers who opted in to receive information versus the mass email population: 94 percent higher open rates, 1,062 percent higher video views, 100 percent deliverability and Zero unsubscribes”.
8 Key Takeaways to Avoid Customer Experience Mistakes
1. “Digital has changed buyer and marketer behavior. Traditional campaigns are definitive…social is about long-term relationships…think about how to drive content streams to improve search, engagement and conversion”.
Eric Nystrom, Director, Social Media Services Group, Dell
2. “Engage your customers to provide their preferences regarding information they want to receive from you; right person, right content, right time, right place and right medium”.
Andrew Bailey, Marketing Principal, FedEx.
3. Help customers at every point of contact with your company; from information gathering, to purchasing, to ongoing engagement. Make every aspect of doing business with your company easy.
4. Communicate a consistent message and brand across all channels, and customer touch points, including customer service.
5. Constantly improve how you communicate your value proposition; this applies to your products and your company, so customers understand why they should continue to do business with you.
6. Learn the customer journey from the customer’s perspective. Know what customers want from you at each stage of their journey with your company and satisfy their needs.
7. Rethink all communications with customers to be personalized, relevant and helpful based on their individual preferences. Don’t just send transaction-based “spray and pray”.
8. Change your culture to be customer centric in all aspects of your company and unite these efforts across all departments.
Customers are happiest when the product/ service they are purchasing works as expected. When this is the case (and most Customer-initiated contacts are when it is NOT the case), keeping the brand in view with minimally invasive contacts is sufficient. The focus then becomes improving the Customer Service interactions that are Complaint- Driven.
Language barriers are the number one complaint: Out-of-country call centers are a punchline to a joke, and not a solution to a problem.
Strictly-written call dialogues are the number two complaint. Operators who only know what is scripted are unable to properly triage the caller’s issues. This results in dissatisfied customers who will blow up your Brand at every opportunity.
The first personal contact with your brand should NEVER be an untrained Brand Ambassador hindered by a language barrier. Period.
And a last piece of practical advice: the Customer is more sophisticated than you give him credit for ( despite all the herd behavior exhibited). The ABC* mentality of most contacts is easily seen, usually blown off, and reinforces a cynical & jaded view of your brand.
* ABC = Always Be Selling