Talia Short is Chief Wrangler at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at aprilbellresearch.com.
Hi! This is the last of four posts leading up to the NACCM conference. Over the past three weeks, I’ve talked about how Customer Experience Management (CXM) is challenged as never before: it is not driving improvement in either scores or financials for most companies today; it is not customer-focused; and it is not taking into account how customers make decisions. We now know that a more comprehensive view of measuring Customer Experience is needed. It is not just about measuring overall customer experience and key drivers; we also need to factor in the varied needs (drivers) and states (emotions) of different customers. Doing this creates a vastly improved measurement system. What gets measured gets done, right?
Not so fast. Back in the day, CXM (aka, CSAT) was easy’identify the key drivers, make the case for low-cost process changes and watch the scores go up. What got measured got done because we knew what needed to be done. Now that we’ve tried everything we can think of, we need new ways of managing business performance improvement. Today, we need a Customer Experience Management framework.
A CXM framework requires understanding the customer from three perspectives: Loyalty Relationships, which are essential to accomplishing strategic objectives; Transactional (touch-point) Experiences, which strengthen or weaken those relationships; and Employee Engagement levels, which are ultimately responsible for performance on the first two. Many companies have programs to measure all three. Unfortunately, most of those programs are left in their Marketing, Operations, and HR silos. This means most companies are failing to get the full return on the significant investments they are making in these programs. For example, if Customer Service performance is low in a call center, do you spend behind additional training and monitoring on low performing attributes? The Customer Experience data might suggest that. But if you also knew that the CSRs in this particular center had very low engagement due to lack of trust and empathy from managers, you would make very different decisions. This potential for misallocation of resources is unacceptable in business today. Managing customer experience to drive business performance requires measuring and managing within an integrated CXM framework.
Measuring and managing is good, but still not enough. I’ve seen too many companies use information from their Customer Experience programs to develop and implement action plans only to then cross their fingers until the next measurement cycle. It is absolutely necessary to monitor your company’s implementation of its action plans, your customers’ responses to those actions, and the business performance outcomes that result.
In summary, whether you say ‘Integrated,’ ‘Connected,’ or ‘Holistic,’ it is all about a comprehensive, customer-focused view of needs/drivers and states/emotions within the framework of Measuring customer relationships, transactional experiences, and employee engagement levels; Managing action planning and implementation; and Monitoring the response. We haven’t even touched on brand promise and its relationship to CXM (Authenticity)’or Social Media’or Innovation. Those will have to wait. Enjoy the conference.
I’ll be continuing to post every week at http://tns-us.com/blog/. Hope to see you there. Let me know what you think of the conference by posting your comments below.
If you enjoyed this series, join TNS this November at NACCM for a session on Best-in-class Customer Experience Management.
Hi! This is the third of four posts leading up to the NACCM conference. In my last one, I discussed a way to begin to unlock some of the strategic value inherent in all Customer Experience Management (CXM) programs. That approach required becoming truly customer-centric’understanding individual customer’s needs and taking action at that level. We also, however, need to take into account how customers make decisions regarding the companies they do business with. Science is telling us that decision making is not very rational. It is, in fact, mostly emotional.
The earth is flat. The sun moves around the earth. We use our powers of reason to make decisions. All were strongly held beliefs’once upon a time. Today, neuroscience reveals that the emotional regions of the brain are very active when making a decision. Once a decision is made, however, the rational areas take over. It sure looks like we make decisions emotionally and then rationalize them. Like Plato’s Cave, our current process-based survey approach is a shadow, a reflection of the rationalization process, but not necessarily of the decision process itself. Understanding customers’ emotional states is as important as understanding their needs. This is where Dynamic Loyalty comes in.
Most relationships are habitual. You shop at the same grocery stores; you buy business supplies from the same providers; you’re wedded to your mobile device. Eventually, however, disruption strikes. You see on the 11:00 news your grocery store has been charging more at check-out than the posted price (anger). Your business supplier stops carrying the printer cartridges for your older printer (irritation). You try your wife’s new iPhone (‘wow’ ‘ my own emotional response). Each of these experiences and the emotions they produce disrupts the steady state and influences decisions that will weaken or strengthen current business (or other) relationships. This perspective explains a phenomenon we’re all too familiar with: Customers are loyal until they’re not.
They tell you… ‘We really like doing business with you.’ ‘Just focus on doing what you’re doing.’ ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but we’re putting our business up for competitive bid ‘ you can expect an RFP in the next few weeks.’ THEY LIED! No, they didn’t. They really believed what they told you in your steady state relationship, but there was a disruptive event. (Management fed up with flat customer experience scores? New information found in a competitor’s blog?) Either you create and manage disruption, or someone else will.
So if you’re going to improve customer experience to drive your company’s business performance, you have to find ways to meet customers’ individual needs (drivers) and manage the emotional states (disruptions) that impact decision-making. That will require strong relationships, excellent performance, and engaged employees. Your CXM framework must reflect these components. I’ll have more about that in the next post.
Until next time’Tell me what you think: Does this wider perspective reflect fundamental change in thinking about CXM’or is it just another dress on the CSAT mannequin?
If you enjoyed this post, join TNS this November at NACCM for a session on Best-in-class Customer Experience Management.
Hi! I’m back with the second of four blogs leading up to the NACCM conference. In my last post, I talked about the fact that Customer Experience Management (CXM) programs just aren’t working well for most companies today. Flat results and lack of new insights are causing executives to rethink their programs. I attributed this to limited perspectives’a type of tunnel vision that in turn limits practitioners’ abilities to help drive customer experience improvement and the profitable growth that would accompany it. Correcting this defective perspective requires a significant change in how we think about traditional CSAT programs. Not only are such programs not customer-centric, they actually have relatively little to do with the customer.
Santayana’s advice about not forgetting the past suggests a good place to start. CXM can trace its roots back to the Quality era. It started with a focus on process improvement and all these years later is still doing the same thing. (Look at your company’s most recent CSAT survey if you don’t believe me.) While 30 years of focus on process improvement has vastly improved customer experience in terms of product and service quality, the lack of further gains shows it has taken us as far as it can.
All this focus on process improvement is causing us to forget about the customer. What matters is not what process area has the greatest impact on the customer base; it’s about which customers (that is, real people) are most impacted by which processes. Once we understand that it’s about individual customer needs, we start to gain new, wider perspectives. Let’s apply this thinking to some current issues: flat scores and the same ol’ key drivers.
Functional key driver priorities, such as customer service, product quality, and billing, are analyzed and ranked based on the ability of processes (and their attributes) to improve overall customer experience. As we have all learned, they don’t change much over time unless there’s some disruption. Consider, however, that each of the process drivers is the #1 key driver for some subset of customers. Real example’ We know that for mobile carriers, Coverage is often the primary driver of satisfaction. However, we have learned that for some customers, Coverage not a key driver, but the Data Plan Offer is. Profiling customers in terms of demographics, products, usage, and spend can provide the additional information necessary to identify which customers are impacted most by which drivers. Your current program is stuck in part because you have been uniformly optimizing experience across your customer base. When you take it to the customer level you have the potential to differentially maximize it, further driving profitable growth.
So this is all about recognizing and understanding the differences among customers. Customers are not all the same; they have different needs. A nice analytical trick, you say, but what strategic potential in Customer Experience studies is unlocked? Top of mind’ How about increasing share of spend? Improving competitive position? Increasing the value of the customer database? Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing spend? Building ROI into CXM? All this and more become possible. But how do you turn potential into reality?
Until next time’Please share your experiences in trying to get more from your current CXM program. What worked? What didn’t?
If you enjoyed this post, meet Curt this week, Oct 3rd to 5th, at the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit in Arizona, or join TNS this November at NACCM for a session on Best-in-class Customer Experience Management.
In this new series of posts, we are joined by guest blogger Curt Carlson, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Management ‘ TNS North America. Curt is in the TNS North America Customer Experience Management (CXM) Area of Expertise. In this role, he is responsible for supporting strategy development and Customer Experience ‘ related business, which includes Customer Loyalty, Employee Engagement and Corporate Reputation. In the 20+ years that Curt has spent in Customer Experience-related research, he has also held senior positions at Walker Information, J.D. Power and Associates, and Ipsos Loyalty. Curt received his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Iowa, and his M.A. and Ph.D. (Experimental Psychology) from Kent State University. Curt has also presented at many US and International conferences and workshops including those sponsored by The Conference Board and EFQM, as well as by numerous clients. He is also a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA).
Hi. I’m Curt Carlson and welcome to my blog, which will lead up to the NACCM conference. It is my hope that this will stimulate some ideas that you can discuss with others at the meeting.
Why am I doing this? I love the customer experience arena. After over 20 years of helping some of the greatest companies in the world with their customer experience programs, I like to think of the good we as practitioners bring: customers have a better experience, clients make more profit, as does my employer, and I earn a living. So what’s the problem’if there is one?
Customer Experience Management (CXM) isn’t working for most companies today. Every company will eventually begin to notice a lack of improvement in customer experience performance metrics that goes on and on. Moreover, they also see few if any strategic insights coming from a program that touches most of their customers and costs six or seven figures. Why?
Let’s start with the flat-line problem. We’ve seen this in all sectors’Tech, Telecom, Financial Services, Retail, to name a few. Everyone’s head nods in agreement when I bring this up in front of large audiences. The critical business issues are that over time, customer experience management programs 1) do not inform change management, and 2) do not contribute to profitable growth. The scary thing for both suppliers and clients is that eventually their relationship will end because of these issues. And like a divorce, it is painful and expensive for both sides.
The lack of strategic information should be no surprise. Programs that measure relationships report the same key drivers over and over; new insights stop in Year Two or Three. Transaction surveys are short, limited to a single touch-point, and intended for Ops management. Over time, however, that’s not good enough for executives who need more value from these programs to impact their company growth. As a transportation company exec once told me, ‘I’m spending seven figures on my study and not getting any strategic value from it’what can you do’?
The good news is that the problem lies not with the programs, but with us. Practitioners, both client side and supplier side, have a bad case of tunnel vision. Over the next three blogs, I’ll be talking about these programs in more comprehensive (I refuse to say ‘holistic’) ways. These wider perspectives will begin to reveal how companies can unlock the inherent tactical and strategic value of their CXM programs.
Join this community’Share your stories about how your customer experience programs have worked for you over time in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, meet Curt next week, Oct 3rd to 5th, at the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit in Arizona, or join TNS this November at NACCM for a session on Best-in-class Customer Experience Management.
Researching the web I came across this insightful video ‘TNS Market Research – What is Shopper research?‘ from TNS Global. Appropriately titled, the video explores what shopper research is and touches on these 4 pillars: Shopper behavior, idea, expression, and experience. Take a couple of minutes to view the video. How is your organization using shopper research tactics to get in the mind of the consumer?