Improving Customer Experience, Where Do you Start?

Filed in Sales by on April 16, 2013 5 Comments
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If your customers could critique their experience with you, what would your report card look like? Photo by Brad Holt.

By its nature, customer experience touches all aspects of your business – marketing, sales, operations, finance, and maybe even your legal team. It's an enterprise-wide strategy that focuses your entire organization on putting the customer first. And, in its entirety, customer experience can be daunting. The enormity of what should be done to improve the customer experience paralyzes some companies into doing nothing at all – a tragic mistake that allows their competition to pull ahead with an experience advantage.

Who has the advantage?

An experience advantage can be hard to define in just a word or two, but if you think about Apple, Zappos, American Express, and Southwest Airlines it becomes clear. These companies were early adopters of the customer experience discipline and are industry leaders today. They are the essence of great customer experience, an achievement born from years of listening to the customer, improving processes, training employees, and building a culture of customer care. Devotion to Customer Experience keeps these companies at the top of the Temkin Experience Ratings. Pull QuoteCompanies move to the top of the Experience Ratings when they implement a comprehensive customer experience initiative that usually starts with an executive-level strategic mandate, involves gathering detailed customer feedback and data, and results in significant redesigns of customer service and operational processes. It’s a behemoth undertaking akin to turning a cargo ship on a dime – but it can be done. Take for example the remarkable turnaround of Sprint, which in 2007 was dead last on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Under the leadership of Dan Hesse, Sprint embarked on an ambitious customer experience initiative resulting in not only a first-place rank among wireless carriers in the 2012 index, but also a savings of over $1.7 billion per year due to process improvement. Customer experience initiatives can deliver this powerful one-two punch – saving money and delighting customers – that propels companies like Sprint above their peers. You’re shaking your head right now. You’re not Apple and you’re not Sprint. You’re a small- to medium-sized enterprise operating at maximum efficiency. Or you’re at a large company, but there is no executive support. How do you begin to tackle something as large as a customer experience initiative?

How? The answer to this question is surprisingly old.

Raelin Musuraca

Raelin Musuraca

In 6th century B.C. Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Simply take that first step.  Start with quick wins. Find simple things that cause customer experience problems and fix them. At Sprint, Dan Hesse started by closely examining customer service call codes and found that a frequent customer complaint was “couldn’t understand the bill.” This was simple issue that was solved quickly with a customer-focused redesign. Quick wins won’t be enough to propel you to the top of your industry, but it can be enough to prove Return on Investment and gather support for a full customer experience initiative that can create a transformational experience advantage.  Start your journey toward customer experience excellence today by learning more about Gaining Your Experience Advantage with Three Quick Wins.
Next week Raelin will discuss three quick wins that will improve your customer experience. 
How does your brand mediate customer experience? What could you do better? [/ismember]   [nonmember]
Report Card

If your customers could critique their experience with you, what would your report card look like? Photo by Brad Holt.

By its nature, customer experience touches all aspects of your business – marketing, sales, operations, finance, and maybe even your legal team. It's an enterprise-wide strategy that focuses your entire organization on putting the customer first. And, in its entirety, customer experience can be daunting. The enormity of what should be done to improve the customer experience paralyses some companies into doing nothing at all – a tragic mistake that allows their competition to pull ahead with an experience advantage.

Who has the advantage?

An experience advantage can be hard to define in just a word or two, but if you think about Apple, Zappos, American Express, and Southwest Airlines it becomes clear. These companies were early adopters of the customer experience discipline and are industry leaders today. They are the essence of great customer experience, an achievement born from years of listening to the customer, improving processes, training employees, and building a culture of customer care. Devotion to Customer Experience keeps these companies at the top of the Temkin Experience Ratings. Companies move to the top of the Experience Ratings when they implement a comprehensive customer experience initiative that usually starts with an executive-level strategic mandate, involves gathering detailed customer feedback and data, and results in significant redesigns of customer service and operational processes. It’s a behemoth undertaking akin to turning a cargo ship on a dime – but it can be done.
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About the Author ()

Raelin Musuraca is a researcher and designer focused on leveraging new technologies and innovative thinking to champion the customer experience. Over the last 20 years, she provided strategic planning and design services to several Fortune 500 companies. Raelin provides strategic planning and design services focused on integrating all customer touch points in the delivery of consistent brand messaging and the ideal customer experience.

Comments (5)

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  1. Erin Druga says:

    I completely agree that customer experience is not always a priority for companies, though it should be. Companies should not be hesitant to start a customer experience initiative. Without one, companies will slowly start to receive customer complaints and will have to work on building their business back up. An initiative allows for a plan of action if and when customers do provide [negative] feedback. As they say, the customer IS always right.

    • Evan Moore says:

      Agreed. Even if the customer isn’t right (is that even possible?), their influence on their network could still have a negative or positive impact on your business. You have to stay ahead of it.

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