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Customer Engagement customer experience

Messy Processes – Messy Customer Experiences?

Messy Processes – Messy Customer Experiences?

I am sure you have heard more than once in your life as a customer, in your businesses, or a reply from a colleague: “Sorry, it is against our policy” or “It is against regulations”.  How is it against regulations when others are doing it? No, it is just an easy escape from feeling you offer bad customer experiences. How many companies actually mix bad internal processes with regulations or policies? Quite a few I’m sure!

Hopefully, that isn’t the case in your company. It is actually easy to test. Find out how many times your clients hear phrases like “I’m sorry, our system doesn’t allow us to do that.” Or “It doesn’t work like that. The way our process works is ……” or “the system is telling me that….”. Those are clear indicators of messy processes leading to messy customer experiences.

And why would you care? Certainly not because more clients would spend more money in your business if those processes were functioning better? Or if your existing clients give you 60-70% higher profitability than the new ones? There is a ton of research now that shows this ‘value’ yet why are more businesses reacting faster to the changes needed? The latest UKCSI report published in July this year https://lp.instituteofcustomerservice.com/ukcsi-july-2020 shows that overall customer satisfaction is the same as 12 months ago, but now 1.2 points lower that 2 years ago! In a world where digital is at the forefront, it is a lot easier to change the way we operate, and with the recent pandemic, there could be a burning platform that allows you to galvanise the changes needed.

 

I’m sure you find those as very good reasons to start aligning your organisation’s processes to customer experiences. It will actually increase your revenue; it is as simple as that. Removing waste from a lean perspective is great, removing it from a customer perspective can be remarkable.

Too many companies have “inside-out” focus, that is focusing on themselves instead of “outside-in” focus which is about putting the customer at the centre of everything. Journey mapping is one of the practical ways of putting customers in the centre.

So, what should you do?

Most companies can start from the basics. That is to map out all the relevant customer journeys, possibly by customer type. You can’t fix something you don’t understand first. Having a journey of what is going on makes it easier to plan the desired future state, that will respond to customer needs better. That leads to a second point, which is using the customer journey to see where the biggest pain points are – for people (customers and colleagues) and the business, and the opportunities for improvement, or innovation.  Then you can define how you want the future to look and build a roadmap to get there.

Summary

Your customer experiences are outcomes of your internal processes. Messy processes will lead to messy experiences, often for both customers and your colleagues. To fix your experiences, you have to fix your processes through the eyes of the customer – and that will take a much more customer-centric approach than traditional process methods may offer you (Lean, Six Sigma, BPM, etc.).

Here are some reflective questions you can use to evaluate your current situation:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of your different customer types & their needs? This is often referred to as Personas
  • Have you ever mapped their customer journeys? If yes, are they up to date? Are you using them to understand how they produce successful customer outcomes? And making it as easy as possible to interact with you?
  • Do you have a prioritisation model or framework to assess what will make the most difference, as you and your teams won’t be able to do everything at once!
  • Based on the priorities, do you have a plan in place, with clear activities, timescales, resource and the right governance to ensure that progress is made and activities are delivered?

It can help to get an outside in view – Many businesses get someone to help hold the mirror up to messy processes and less than perfect experiences. It’s important to ensure that you get a health check on your ‘Operational Fitness’ to deliver great experiences.

 

Custerian are expert practitioners having done this for lots of different companies across multiple sectors, often helping embed different tools, frameworks and skillsets into internal teams to continue on the journey of improvement.   Want to simply have chat or know more contact us on 01925 607060 or drop us an email at approach@custerian.com

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

I’m hearing lots about customer expectations & how they’re changing. According to a recent report, companies that successfully engage their B2B customers realise 63% lower customer attrition. They also achieve a 55% higher share of wallet, and 50% higher productivity.*

*https://medium.com/@OutgrowCo/customer-engagement-statistics-in-2020-547e41c70c74

So how do you align operations to changing customer expectations? In this article I consider:

  • Why expectations are changing
  • How this could impact / what you should think about
  • How your operations may need to change
  • What you should measure to get to the right priorities

Customer Expectations are increasing

An ever-growing challenge that isn’t going to subside, is that we are always switched on & connected. At least 60% of UK adults use more than 2 devices with 87% of us using a smartphone*. We therefore have much easier access to organisations if things go wrong.

Equally, new and emerging consumer technologies continue to become a core part of our lives (I sit here typing this on my Mac with phone and laptop close by & iPad downstairs. They are accessible to all ages for a variety of different needs and are easy to use, with great product design (that isn’t just apple products, a lot of consumer electronics now meet this human need).

Along with next day delivery, (now even same day delivery), for virtually anything becoming part of our shopping habits, are we just becoming intolerant of poor product and service design?

What is a day in the life of an ever-typical customer – more so now…

So if we can check our smart phone 350 times a day, find out ‘near time’ information about: what our friends ate for dinner; how a family members birthday celebration went (as we couldn’t attend); and what a random person we met at a conference a while ago thinks about everything. We can at the same time: book our holidays / staycations from our phones; order dinner to be delivered from a local restaurant; purchase an electronic item through ‘click and collect’ for collection at a supermarket; and download a book that other people highly recommended. All whilst travelling if you need to!

Is this becoming more typical of your customers too?

We are now even more used to online shopping / apps since that has been our main way to purchase over recent weeks / months –  is it any wonder that our service expectations are increasing?

We no longer tolerate stuff that’s not personal or relevant. We get far too many e-mails that we’re quick to hit the “Delete” button or even unsubscribe if we can be bothered to go through that process. So how do we almost stop that deleting or ignoring of things and make it feel real for customers?

We naturally work across multiple channels. I find myself watching TV whilst texting and doing a little bit of retail therapy on my iPad. We are fast becoming anytime, anyplace, anything. How do we deliver that ‘martini service’ for all our customers out there?

We know far more about customers, they are quite willing in most cases to give us information about themselves, you can determine more a more about their persona from their social media footprint. Tailoring services or messages based on this drives engagement. 

So how does this impact how you operate?

The aim for organisations should be to maximise revenue through engaged colleagues and customers. In order to achieve this, we need to understand them. If we do this, we can align what we do best with what customers want most through our people.

Once you know what customers and colleagues want and the issues they face, you can work to improve your processes and ways of working and importantly, measure your effectiveness. It isn’t just about what you do, it’s how you do it.

Finally, you should look at how technology can make it easier for colleagues and customers to deliver and receive the service. There is still a relatively low level of digital automation being used and so cost benefits are not being fully realised.

What does the research say?

[ADD IMAGE – CONTACT BABEL FRONT COVER]

The mean cost per inbound transaction by channel was shown to be: Phone (£4.53); Email (£3.89); Web chat (£3.39); Social Media (£3.18). For emails, it is therefore the case that if the query is not answered satisfactorily within a single response, the time and cost associated with multiple replies and possibly phone calls is soon greater than if the customer had simply called in the first instance.**

We can see that customers want to use different channels at different times and after all, we are all different – you won’t win by driving customers to one cheaper channel.

There can be strong patterns for contact based on age, but it does also depend on the nature of the contact, whether emotional, urgent or complex. Urgent queries will for example drive self-serve attempts – to get an answer quickly. For a product which customers really wanted to receive and had been delivered but was incorrect, the most popular option was to email the organisation (46%), with the second most popular (19%), was phoning the contact centre.**

What should you measure?

Based on research and experience, you need to measure use of channels based on contact types, look at time to achieve an outcome, also did all the people who started a process in a certain channel complete it?  If not, why? If they are dropping out or aborting, where and why – have you tried this process yourself, have your customer service colleagues tried it, as an internal test?  and look for opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness of how you serve customers.  There may one or two channels that would be better for a customer to use and it may mean you really do need to speak with them. 

Depending on your organisation this may involve a whole scale change to your operating model, or a focus on the areas of the business where customers are served.

A final thought…

As the green cross code used to say:

STOP – take a pause & think about your purpose and how you’re doing in delivering it

LOOK – at your measures and what they’re saying

LISTEN – to your customers and colleagues (outside in and inside out)

Then start your planning to achieve an effective, seamless service that works for all your people.

 

Beverley Stag

Custerian Outcome Creation Specialist

 

*Statista, March 2020

** Contact Babel: The Inner Circle Guide to Contact Centre Remote Working Solutions, 2020

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer experience is traditionally focussed on flexing what you do to meet customer expectations. Achieving a great customer experience and maintaining it, needs ongoing focus and visibility of:

  • Strong employee engagement with customer vision & strategy embedded into the DNA of the company
  • Multi-channel consistency
  • Always ‘Easy’ to do business with (for the customer and colleagues)
  • Fixes customers’ mistakes easily, often proactively
  • Continuous improvement culture with closed feedback loops, always looking to improve
  • Brand promise delivered every time
  • Wow moments where relevant

Customer engagement, which Custerian have been talking about for years, is about matching what you do best to what a customer wants most. Matching purpose with outcomes.

We actually talk about People Engagement, people being customers, colleagues, suppliers.

People engagement starts with a clear business purpose that everything can be aligned to. You need to have a strong view of what your purpose is, and this is something many companies struggle with. Customer experience focusses on the outcomes – process and priorities.

You need to create this alignment between purpose and outcomes through people.

  • People – they need to understand the purpose and how they can contribute in a way that allows them to feel good/great.
  • Proposition – why should people deal with you rather than another organisation?
  • Process – do you work as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver what you do best to your customers?
  • Priorities – do you relentlessly focus on creating a great experience for customers and colleagues?

Colleagues play a massive part in customer engagement. More companies are starting to recognise this and are thinking about ways in which they can drive further engagement here.

Here are some tips to start you thinking about colleague engagement:

  • Clarity – this is about translating the purpose so that it makes sense to everyone in the organisation – this may be done through your strategy, plans, values etc.
  • Relevance – build the level of trust through regular communication, consistently re-enforcing messages.
  • Value – showing the value of your colleagues – gaining opinions and developing your organisation through them.
  • Meaning – this goes beyond your organisation – many people want to give back through communities and create relationships with customers in a different way – this makes people feel good – about themselves and their organisation.

So, let’s get onto what customers want in order to create that alignment and in turn, engage them. People just want to know something and want life to be more simple, life is too much in the fast lane.

In recent dealings with customers, they were very clear. In a service delivery organisation where things do go wrong for customers (and they expect it can happen), then they ideally want to be contacted pro-actively but if not, want it to be easy to make contact in a way that suits them, and then they want their expectations managed. Do what you say, and they will be happy with that. If you actually go above and beyond, such as the pro-active contact, then they will recommend you to others.

We heard some other great examples of brands that were achieving this engagement by offering discounts automatically based on spend (that weren’t expected) or by their amazing returns/exchange policies. These companies now have loyal customers.

So, we have brands/organisations telling us about their products and services and we have customers that want a need to be met easily, through their channel of choice. So, what brings the two together? Data!

We have more data than ever before, and brands use this to their advantage. GDPR regulations have, however, thrown a spanner in the works somewhat – we as customers, now have more control over our personal information and can ask for our data to be removed! We’re all so quick to remove Apps that we haven’t used in a while or unsubscribe from annoying communications.

A lot of businesses really don’t know their customers habits. Have you thought about personas for your company and how these could help to drive your strategy? Get your colleagues involved in creating them – it’s a fun thing to do and really gets you thinking about how you need to treat people differently. Knowing your customers allows you to prioritise developments – where to automate and reduce customer effort. As customers we’re becoming increasing capable of serving ourselves – if this is an option for us to use (and we want to) and then it’s quick and easy, we’re happy. One point here – we do need to be reassured that our transaction has been successful!

Technology is moving fast, and we need to stay close and use the developments to our advantage. Adobe released survey data in July 2019 that found 48% of consumers are using voice for general web searches. With 87% of people in the UK using a smart phone*, we need to consider such growth in our contact strategies as our expectations as customers are increasing and quickly.

Hopefully I’ve got you thinking… as we look forward, what are the things you need to plan for and do to operate more effectively and really engage customers? Now is the time to start the planning and then perhaps this time next year any impacts of Christmas, winter or any peak season won’t quite hit as hard and more customers will be raving about your organisation!

*Statista, March 20202

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
customer experience new ways of working thoughts Uncategorized value

People – The Bit That Customer Experience Misses

People - The Bit That Customer Experience Misses

Customers & Colleagues Are….. People

So what I am talking about here is the growth of purpose led, or the need for emotional engagement in, brands/products/services etc…. which should be:

  1. Of absolutely no surprise to anyone
  2. A really great basic for us all to grasp

Most people come to work for, and like to buy from, organisations that they feel represent and/or enhance something they feel intrinsically represents themselves (or in reality the best version of themselves).

So in this article what I am going to explore are some of the things you might want to consider. As with many of my postings/musings much of this has been about for a while and I can be a bit contrary about about it being presented as ‘exciting and new’.

However the bit that perhaps I have not really paid due consideration to is the fact that until only recently most people have not had the remit, capability or permission to stray outside of their functional silo, but if ‘digital’ is doing one thing… it is exposing those that do not adopt a true Outside In view of creating and delivering their brand.

And that leads me to what is wrong with (philosophically & practically) Customer Experience.. it should be People Experience.

Before We Get Started

Straight out of the box I just want to get this clear:

By People Experience I am NOT talking about the bit HR are increasingly doing. I AM talking about the bit Customer Experience, in my view, gets wrong. Wrong in the context of only considering one stakeholder’s needs when trying to create an enduring business in a competitive marketplace.

I do have a lot of time for CX. In fact, our Co-Founder Nicola Collister was the first UK top 100 CX Main Board Director more than 10 years ago. But for us CX thinking is fundamentally flawed, which is why we pioneered People Experience. NOT as a methodology – we are far too interested in creating outcomes for that – but as a mindset and approach to getting and maintaining competitive advantage.

The Only Goal That Matters

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, and to be honest provide a more enjoyable place to work, you need to:

Provide an emotionally compelling reason for people to ‘deal’ with you in preference to a competitor.

You do this by working out what you do best (your proposition), that ‘your’ customers want most, and then delivering it as consistently, efficiently & effectively as possible. It’s a 360 degree all stakeholder thing… not just a customer thing…

Context Is King – Or a Camel will only beat a Horse in a desert

Before I do share my thin thinking one-word strategy approach, a bit of context.

We ask the CEO’s we come across – honestly you can talk to them, after all they are People just like you and me – how much time they spend on strategy, and the usual answer is not much. 

They are universally more focussed on the delivery of strategy and looking for accountable ways of ‘directing’ the business to do so, than they are in creating new strategies!

I say this up front as I do not want to denigrate strategy, just put it into context. Oh, and as an aside, if you are spending ages on your strategy (time & money), you most likely don’t have a compelling Proposition you believe in. Or you are engaged in vast amounts of political infighting between siloed business functions Vs delivering stuff your customers want.

A Good Place To Start 

The reason why a step to considering your Colleagues and Customers as People (as long as you then go onto recognise how they might behave differently in certain context – hence why you create ‘Persona’s) is because ‘People Buy From People Like Themselves’. 

Also, every single transaction we have as humans irrespective of a physical product changing hands, is a purchase/exchange – “I’ll do something for you, if you do something for me”.

And they make this judgement based on something often referred to as intuition, which can be better articulated as – I’m likely to feel better (or worse) about myself by dealing with this person/company.

Fig 1 Why People Buy – Or Talk to – Or Socialise With – Certain People

And just for absolute clarity if anyone states you can trust them… Do please start looking for the small print. Trust is earned by one party and bestowed by the other. It’s not a value that can be stated.

So Emotion Is Present In All Transactions – So It’s A Given?

Here is the odd bit. Many companies find emotion at work a really hard thing to allow though the door. I suspect most associate it with either conflict (something often associated with change – and unavoidable + necessary by the way). Or woolly rubbish best left to Marketing and their overcharging agencies.

But if you are going to leverage the next big differentiator which is your Colleagues – don’t forget they are people – then you are going to have to spend significantly more time and effort of understanding how they can feel a lot better about themselves by coming to work.

The Easy Bit

Luckily identifying this is very easy to do. It’s the execution bit that gets hard because we exist in a ‘doing loads of stuff differently all the time‘ culture and most executives are penalised for finding new and exciting and engaging ways of doing the same things differently – you know, like promoting the core values in ways all employees can understand and contribute to so that they can help the managers & directors deliver exceptional service intuitively to the Customers, who spend more, for longer, so driving shareholder value.

Fig 2 People Centric Change

So simply put, the emotion that ‘People’ should be engaging with comes from your Business purpose via your Proposition. And the engine house of emotional engagement are your Values.

The reason it’s easier than you think to get at these, even if like most you are sceptical, and/or can’t remember your brand values because (completely wrongly by the way!) most organisations again feel Values are the woolly stuff marketing come up with, is that the values that make up your ‘Brand’ can be found in the People – Customer & Colleagues – who transact with you now.

Why… Emotionally… Should I Buy From You?

If you only ponder one question on you, please try to give the above one some headspace. And do so in the context of Customers, Colleagues, Managers, Directors & Shareholders… after all, are we not all people.

Simon Norie

Co-Founder

Custerian.com

PS: As a final thought Simon has done a short (3 minute) video which you can view below or by  CLICKING HERE

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too. www.custerian.com

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Uncategorized

I want to make changes.. but they keep asking for a cost benefit case!

I want to make changes.. but they keep asking for a cost benefit case!

Can’t we just do what our customers want us to do?

Can’t we just do what our customers want us to do?

We get this comment a lot when it comes to putting change in. The “they have said I need a cost benefit case – surely they should just know we need to do this?” cry for help.

In todays world of agile, aligned ways of working, where billion £ businesses are created virtually overnight, you might think we would come out in support of a position that says:
If it’s aligned to Customer needs, then you should just do it.

But we don’t and that is because doing a cost benefit (or business case, or return on investment etc) has a lot of merit.

Here are a few reasons:

1. It encourages cross functional working – no bad thing for creating alignment between a brand and its customers through its colleagues – a big driver of Brand Empathy & Customer Loyalty.

2. You should know what it ‘costs to serve’ your brand to your customers. How else can you focus your efforts correctly on doing things that add value to the customer?

3. The basic tenant of all business is simple – create something at a cost of Y, sell it at a price of X. As long as the amount you spend on ‘selling’ your product is less than X minus Y, then you’re making money.

And finally it has another major bonus – The plans you have for change are significantly more likely to get approved because most of us work in businesses where the final arbiter for approval is ROI (Return On Investment).

As with many things, it’s not about if you should do something or not, it’s about how.

So how do you go about building a cost benefit case?

So a bit like our thin strategy approach (keep it clear, customer centric, emotionally engaging & with a clear financial outcome), we have a view on cost benefits. You should be able to quickly access the cost, and therefore the benefit of any changes you wish to make, on an ongoing basis. It should be a core part of your decision making process.

Here are some tips on how to do this:

1. Involve your finance team – especially anyone who has a title such as Cost Accountant. Finance are all about helping business make sensible decisions – especially improving the
X- Y equation stuff.

2. Create a high-level view of the major steps involved in ‘selling’ your product (or service) to the customer. It helps to do this as an internal Process Map and not a Customer Journey map initially.

3. This Process Map will usually involve actions within discrete areas of the business and will be focussed on hand over points. A good way of doing it is a quick huddle with your peers to work out the input/output, handovers and metrics.

4. Once you have got the high level process & metrics, the finance team can look at the cost incurred in each stage. There is usually more to this than taking the departmental budget and dividing it by the ‘product’ volume. But often, it is that simple.

5. Now you will have a high level map of the ‘process’ your business goes though to sell its product or service. You will also have the steps, metrics and cost – in short you have a Cost To Serve Model that details the process, measurement & cost for getting from X to Y.

Is it really that easy?

In short… yes. But as with most things in business, what can be an easy thing to outline in 5 steps, proves a bit more difficult in real life. Usually because a lot of informal internal process builds up to protect functional budgets.
But don’t be distracted and again this is where Finance come in. They have a cross functional remit, so they can help look across functions and ensure the end result has credibility.

But how does this help build a benefits case?

Once you have a Cost To Serve Model (specifically the metrics by process step aligned to the cost), you can used it to test the outcomes of different ways of doing things.

The biggest gain you can get to quickly using this approach is to look at the true cost/impact of failure. This can be both the downstream (perhaps a logistic failure) or upstream (bad service experience) impact of getting something wrong. Because you can see how much cost you have wasted, or how much you are going to have to expend rectifying it.

And guess what, the same peer group that helped create the cost to serve model, will almost certainly know what could be done to flex the model to improve it. More than that, you will be able to look at what the ripple though effect is of changes in one area on others.

Even better. This team, who will have a business wide view of the process used to ‘sell’ your products to your customers, can also then use Customer Experience methods to identify what areas of the process should be looked at to create even greater benefit – but that is not for now.

Surely this is too simplistic a view of things

I understand that thought. But equally I have worked for a lot of very large companies, in both the service and product sectors and my general experience is this:

  • Sophisticated modelling – when it exists – is deep at a functional process level. Business has tended to develop a lot of ways of working (for what used to be and can still be, good reasons) that are functionally orientated.
  • Business wide modelling – when it exists is remote from the main business and done as part of a directorate level strategic planning process, so may not filter far enough down a business.

My view is few companies have a got a workable view on their cost to serve model at a level of visibility and understanding that means the colleagues working in the business day in day out, can make a significant impact.

It is also worth saying that even at this high level, you need to maintain a rigour over the metrics and costs that are being used. The old adage of rubbish in, rubbish out, is always true and high level does not mean lots of ‘best guess’ variables will be ok.

But getting your Cost To Serve Model into this format, means the people who can make the biggest difference every day, have the means to do so.

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too. www.custerian.com