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Defining Great Customer Experience: Highlights from the Customer Experience Strategies Summit

Posted by Joanne Morrison

HGS was a proud sponsor of this year’s Customer Experience Strategies Summit in Toronto, April 5–6. At this interactive forum, we were inspired by a talented group of CX thought leaders and forward-thinking brands that are challenging what it means to provide a great customer experience. Strong customer relationships mean customers are three times more likely to stay loyal, six times more likely to recommend the brand, and five times more likely to repurchase. With studies showing that 31% of customers leave because they received a better offer from a competitor, optimizing customer experience has never been more crucial to business growth and survival.

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Bruce Temkin, CX Transformist and Managing Partner, Temkin Group, kicked off the first session with his keynote address titled, “Win Customers by Moving from Fluff to Tough.” He began the session by posing a single question to the audience, “What is a great customer experience?” While audience members called out words such as “memorable,” “consistent,” and “effortless,” Temkin challenged us by proclaiming that all the answers were wrong. He countered with the notion that a great CX is whatever the customer thinks it is. To illustrate this point, he used examples of customer experience from 10 years ago, when we were thrilled to receive DVDs in the mail to view the latest movie, use paper maps to get driving directions, and throw ourselves in front of taxis to access transportation. All of this was before anyone had conceived of the notion of streaming entertainment content, GPS devices that provide real-time traffic updates, and Uber. The key takeaway? It’s that if we set our goals on achieving what exceptional customer experience is today, we’ll ultimately fail. What we need to do is anticipate what customers will want tomorrow.

HGS’s own Lauren Kindzierski closed the sessions on Day 1 with her presentation titled “Rewire the Digital Customer Experience to Connect Emotionally with Customers.” Part of the challenge in providing a great CX is that experiences aren’t logical, they’re emotional. However, more than 35% of all interactions are digital and research projects that the digital will overtake the phone channel as the primary method of communication within two years. With this trend in mind, the question then becomes, “How do you focus on emotions to create memorable digital customer interactions?” Customers want brands to know me, engage me, make my life simple, anticipate my needs, feel what I feel, and reward me.

On Day 2 of the conference, Marc Eaman, Director, Marketing Cloud, Adobe, described “The Power of Great Experiences.” At this session,he talked about the disruption happening in the enterprise. He contends that 20 years ago, during the back-office wave,companies prioritized enterprise resource planning (ERP), and now that has become table stakes. Ten years ago, priorities shifted to the front-office wave, and more investment was made in CRMs to automate sales. Again, this strategy has also become table stakes. Today, we’re entering the experience wave. To succeed in this wave, customers’ demand that brands:

  • Know me and respect me. For example, if a brand knows that the customer is interested in surfing, they should not be bombarded with offers related to skiing.
  • Speak in one voice. Empower employees so they can say, “Yes, I can solve that for you.”
  • Make technology transparent. Customers don’t care how your back-end systems work. They just want an experience that is seamless and works.
  • Delight me at every turn. Mantras that will ensure success are “Be consistent,” “Be continuous,” and “Be compelling.”

Terry Gardiner, VP, Customer Experience Enablement, TELUS, provided an interactive session on “Best Practices to create Customer Value with High-Impact Omni-channel Experiences.” At this session, he emphasized the importance of moving from transactions to the outcomes that customers want. For example, when customers want to sit in their living rooms and watch TV, they don’t care what time the repair truck arrives, they just want the outcome to match their need. Brands need to recognize that each outcome has a different value for the customer. As CX practitioners, we need to understand what’s important in the hearts and minds of customers. Gardiner also emphasized the importance of culture. He contends that you can have the right technology; however, if employees don’t care, your CX efforts will fail. Gardiner also emphasized that key performance indicators (KPIs) can get in the way of culture. For example, if a salesperson on the phone is incented to sell, that sales person won’t encourage customers to make their purchases in store, even though that may be the better option for the customer. Similarly, average handle time (AHT) can be another problematic metric, as customer service reps may rush customers off the phone without optimally solving the issue. TELUS experimented with eliminating AHT as a metric, and while AHT rose in the immediate short term, it leveled off, and, in the longer term, it did not increase.

Driving the right culture is imperative, and the beauty of culture is that it doesn’t cost anything to drive culture change, nor does it require executive approval. It does, however, have a huge impact on delivering successful CX.

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