North-Star to Digital Transformation - The CX Route
The success of CX programs requires a strong senior management mandate including the CIOs, as, by the nature of it, the program cuts across functional boundaries and impacts almost all processes within the organisation
We have seen a sea change in the way organizations conduct their activities. From a more manual, paper-based approach to a more automated, digitised route, CIOs have now an integral part to play in bracing their organizations from future challenges that may arise due to outdated technologies. With the advent of the internet, mobile devices and social channels, customers have gone digital and organisations have no choice but to transform themselves by making their products and services available through the digital channels. However, an online shopping experience does not suffice the purpose.
Customers interacting with organizations through digital mediums have very different expectations. They no longer want to stand in queues.They want organisations to acknowledge this shift and personalise the overall experiences irrespective of the channel.
Digital consumers are expressive and want to communicate.They want to be heard and want to be responded to. Passive approach of organisations of building products and pushing one-way marketing messages to customers will no longer suffice. Active listening, proactive engagement and co-creation is key to higher customer loyalty and profitable growth. There’s a growing realisation amongst business leaders that customer experience reciprocates into the desired customer outcomes.
Customer experience is clearly the new battleground. By co-combining the channels, products, services, people, location, and so on, in multiple permutations and combinations, leading organisations are now creating newer experiences for their customers. Most organisations aren’t short of digital transformation ideas - the challenge is to identify the most impactful sweet-spots and focus efforts on those high priority items. CX comes to the rescue here. It is exponentially becoming the North-Star for digital transformation initiatives; giving it a clear direction, keeping it aligned with changing customer expectations, helping prioritise efforts and budgets, articulating a purpose that brings the organisation together and providing a metric to track progress.
What is CX?
In a nut-shell, CX is the art and science of building a customer-centric culture. This is enabled by training people and rethinking processes and systems to take into account customers’ fast-evolving needs into day-to-day operational as well as strategic decision making. By embedding customer expectations into everything an organisation does, CX ensures that the customer is at the centre of all decisions, whether at the frontline or in the boardroom. In today's dynamic world, organisations that can build a culture- focused on actively listening to customers and reshaping their product, process, policy, service etc. to customer's evolving needs, can create sustainable competitive advantage and brand loyalty- something that lasts beyond a one-off product success.
Millions of customers are interacting with brands across multiple channels. These experiences are shaping their brand perception and loyalty. How an organisation manages these experiences, is key to building brand promoters and brand evangelists. Organisations that actively monitor and manage these experiences get an early warning about losing existing customers enabling them to intervene and create positive experiences for their customers. This positive customer experience drives customers’ loyalty that in turns drives profitable growth.
Making CX Happen
Ensuring the success of CX programs requires a strong senior management mandate including the CIOs. As by the nature of it, the program cuts across functional boundaries and impacts almost all processes within the organisation. Employees need to be trained in customer centricity and customer experience management. Multiple systems need to be integrated to ensure a seamless and secure flow of information. Most CX programs include three primary components - Experience Measurement, Action Management and Continuous Improvement.
The first step is to enable measurement of customer experience at every touch point across all channels using SMS, email, Kiosks, Website Popups, Mobile Popups, IVR, QR Codes, and so on. A popular way to measure customer experience is the “NPS - Net Promoter Score” approach. Exceptionally some brands also use a 2 point thumbs up/ thumbs downscale, a 5- star scale or a -5 to +5 scale. Experience Measurement requires the ability to design a questionnaire for every touchpoint, communicating it to the customer and capturing the response. Actively managing the response rate is critical as the higher the number of responses, the better visibility the organization gets into the real picture.
Customers who respond, expect to be responded back. Closing the loop is the key to continuous engagement. To enable this, customer responses are actively pushed into an action or ticketing management system. This ensures faster closure through rule-based assignment, notifications and escalations. Identification of root cause on the closure of customer grievances can be a valuable input for continuous development. The key here is to ensure that there is an integrated action management system is used by all the stakeholders; be it on the frontline or at the back office. Action Management also enables continuous visibility to the customers, in turn reducing customer anxiety significantly.
The entire idea behind the CX exercise is to evolve and improve. A Role-based dashboard with various analytical tools and reports is facilitated to every employee to enable continuous improvements across multiple touch points
The responses are also pushed back into customer analytics system where it is used in conjunction with other information to compute the customer retention and loyalty scores. These further drive the next best action and personalized recommendation which is then pushed into a multi-channel campaign management system that is further integrated into all communication channels. In addition to this, the customer responses and action management data is overlaid with employee engagement data and a knowledge database to identify active learning opportunities. It is also linked to their individual performance to ensure all employees are aligned with the idea of delivering greater customer experiences.
Each touchpoint requires a different set of questions and business owners would want to change these as they gain better insights. Hence it is important to have a flexible questionnaire designing platform that enables various types of measurements and rating scales, for example- NPS Scale (0-10), 1-5 scale, single selection, multiple options, text and so on, with the ability to implement conditional logic. To ensure that the customer emotion is captured right after the customer’s experience with the brand, it is imperative that triggers flow from touchpoint system e.g. POS, CRM, Website, and Mobile App in near real-time after every transaction. At the same time, the brand must also maintain reach-out hygiene to ensure that the customer is well connected but also not bombarded. After an amazing customer experience, we would certainly not want an irate customer with too many feedback requests.
Manish Srivastava is dedicated towards providing a best-in-class technological platform to aid organizations create a customer experience that helps them ace the competitive edge and shift the focus from a "leaky-bucket" approach to a customer retention strategy.