Australian businesses are starting to get the message when it comes to ‘customer experience’. Delivering consistently outstanding CX calls for ongoing, company-wide commitment and collaboration.
Having passed the point of regarding it as a ‘nice to have’. CX is now recognised as a brand maker or breaker and organisations are pulling out all the stops to ensure that their every interaction with customers is seamless.
There are so many factors that go into a great customer experience including strategy, culture, processes, technology and organisational structure. Making the necessary changes to any one of these factors can be a complex challenge on its own.
Challenges are compounded by the need to prioritise the allocation of limited resources, time and focus to any of these factors. To achieve their CX goals brands need a deep understanding of their target markets, including customers’ needs, wants, aspirations and pain points across the length and breadth of their engagement with their customers throughout the entire lifecycle.
Local businesses that have made a good fist of this include the likes of Afterpay, First Choice Liquor, Mecca and Bendigo Bank, all of which have earned spots for themselves on the annual list of Top 10 CX brands in Australia in recent years.
So how do you join their ranks and enjoy the bottom line boost that comes with a solid base of loyal customers who feel a strong sense of connection with, and trust in, your organisation?
The journey typically begins at the top – until you’ve convinced board members or the C suite of the returns that can accrue on an investment in CX, you’re unlikely to receive the funding and support you need to get even a modest initiative off the ground.
That’s where an external perspective can be invaluable. CX experts who’ve helped other businesses plan and execute their CX strategies are ideally placed to help key decision makers understand the role CX can play in improving your customer experience in line with organisational objectives.
As part of the consultation process, they’ll likely undertake a number of mapping exercises; laying out the ‘aspirational customer journey’ – a term used to describe the way in which customers would interact with your organisation in an ideal world – and comparing it with the journey your customers currently experience, right here, right now, in the real world.
In the gap between the two lies your opportunity to innovate and improve, and strategy sessions with specialists can help you prioritise which activities and initiatives to focus on first.
The power of team work
With the board bought in, you’ll stand the best chance of continued success if you assemble a top-notch team of stakeholders from across the organisation to work on the initiatives together. Ideally, its ranks will include experienced personnel from your marketing, operations, product and IT divisions who share a genuine commitment to keeping the customer satisfied.
Why is their involvement necessary, given they’re unlikely to all be experts in digital technologies or CX? The answer, quite simply, is that they all have pivotal roles to play, if stand-out CX is to become integral to your entire enterprise and not something that’s bolted on haphazardly.
Fail to engage with the ops team and your CX efforts may result in a ‘swan effect’, whereby things look good on the surface but there’s lots of frantic paddling down below, because the programs you’re pursuing don’t connect operationally.
Similarly, if you charge ahead with a slew of initiatives without seeking sufficient input from IT, you may find yourself in possession of some flash concepts that don’t integrate with your core systems.
And, in the absence of your marketeers and business unit folk from the coalface, whatever’s proposed may not be innovative or customer-centric enough to drive the improvements you’re seeking.
Conversely, overlaying the respective capabilities and perspectives of all stakeholders will provide you with a rich picture of what’s desirable and do-able for your enterprise.
An ongoing effort
Once formed, your multi-disciplinary CX team needs to be in it for the long haul with measurement at the core. That’s because companies that offer standout CX know it’s not a set and forget exercise. While they may complete a major program of work every few years, they’re hard at it in the in-between time too, monitoring their efforts and making incremental improvements to their practice, month in, month out.
If you aspire to emulate their success, your organisation would be well advised to do the same.