Category Archives: Voice of Customer

Customer Experience Jenga

customer experience strategyDo we manage customer experience strategy like playing Jenga? (Jenga is the game with a stack of blocks where players take turns to remove one and balance it on top.) The game is supposed to start with a robust foundation, and in the quest to rise to new heights, holes are made to re-allocate resources, weakening the structure until it topples over.

In managing customer experience (CX), new heights are attempted by betting the farm on shiny silver bullets such as Continue reading

Customer-Centricity Goes Beyond Customer Experience Management

customer-centric customer experienceCustomer experience management is necessary, yet insufficient. Traditionally, organizations have managed customer experience with a mindset of how the company is doing, in order to grow revenue. Consequently, surveys tend to ask more about the company than about the buyer, and customer programs typically emphasize excitement and urgency for new purchases and positive word-of-mouth. While attempting to be customer-centric, this mindset is generally centered more on the company's, rather than the buyer's, well-being.

Alternatively, customer experience optimization seeks to Continue reading

B2B Customer Experience Managment: 6 Success Factors for World-Class Performance

This is an edited transcript from my presentation for CustomerThink’s Customer Experience Thought Leader Forum webinar on B2B Customer Experience Management, conducted February 21, 2013.

The Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study has been conducted for three years now. It was established in 2010 with an emphasis on understanding which functional areas were driving customer experience management and the scope of deployment within each company. In 2011, we continued the core set of questions along with an in-depth exploration of B2B voice of the customer practices, and we explored customer experience management success factors seem to be driving business results. And in 2012, we continued with that core set of questions and emphasized success stories of companies’ progress in their customer experience management, as well as showing three-year trends.

CEM Practices in Top-Performing Businesses
First of all, we wanted to identify which companies had the strongest business results. For example, some companies Continue reading

Don’t Confuse CX Technology with Customer Experience Management

a href=”http://clearactioncx.com/customer-engagement/”>customer experience technologyYou're a customer, so you're a perfect judge of logic when it comes to the ways companies are trying to get ahead with customers. First of all, let's face it: when you buy something you want it to be easy to get, function flawlessly, and allow you to move forward in your life or business. That encapsulates what customer experience management is all about: companies that can make it easier and nicer to get what you need in life/business are the companies you'll say good things about and come back to. If you agree that this is your outlook on being a customer, then we've got a good foundation for properly defining the role of technology in customer experience management (CEM).

Customer Relationship Management

As a customer you hope you don't have to Continue reading

Increasing Customer-Focus in Voice of the Customer for Business Results

customer-focusCustomer-focus in satisfaction/loyalty surveys may be the lynchpin to higher response rates and to linking customer experience management (CEM) to business results as well. "Aren’t surveys already customer-focused?" you may be thinking. Well, whenever you're the recipient of a survey, how often do you feel like the questions are focused on what you care about, versus what the surveying company cares about? And, accordingly, do you feel like the surveying company is really getting the best information from you that they can through their current surveys? For me, the answers to these questions are: not much and no. Let's face it: there's room for improvement in making voice of the customer (VoC) efforts truly customer-focused.

The perennial dilemma for survey designers is finding the balance between asking too much or too little, affecting respondent fatigue and response rate levels. But take a look at your call center logs and other customer-initiated feedback. When customers talk about things they're passionate about, there's essentially no such thing as respondent fatigue or asking too much. The real dilemma at-hand is not so much finding the right survey length, but rather, finding the right customer-focus that opens up customers' passions related to what your products, services, and experiences do for them.

How to Discover Your Customers' Passion Buttons for Your Brand
Contrary to popular belief, doing what everyone else is doing might be the exact wrong thing to do, as described in Continue reading

Investment Patterns in B2B Customer Experience Management

Financials and customer experience management (CEM) go hand-in-hand, whether it’s a matter of identifying financial results from CEM efforts, or a matter of financing CEM to begin with. New insights to this conundrum are seen in the 2012 CleaAction Annual Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study, where more than half of participants said that difficulty correlating CEM to business results is one of their top five obstacles to CEM success. While budget restrictions were cited less often as one of the top two obstacles in 2012 compared to 2011, still more than half of participants named budget restrictions as one of their top five obstacles in 2012. (Note: the obstacles list in the 2011 survey did not include big data or correlation of CEM to business results among the selection set.)

Top 5 Obstacles to Customer Experience Management Success in 2012

Customer Experience Management Investment
Uncertainty in the 2012 business climate may have been a factor in reduced investment levels of 35-60% as compared to 2011 and 2010. Interestingly, in 2010, shortly after the major global economic crisis, CEM investment increased for the majority of participating B2B firms. This appeared to be evidence of management's recognition of CEM as an essential building block toward revenue and profit goals. Continue reading

Business Customer Experience Management Stories Highlighted in 3rd Annual B2B CEM Study

Customer Experience Best PracticesStories of business customer experience management practices and successes are featured in the 3rd Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study. Examples span across voice-of-the-customer, employee engagement in CEM, customer-focused culture, customer experience profitability, and more.

Business CEM stories are rare relative to consumer-focused examples, despite the fact that business customer experience can be much more challenging, with high involvement of numerous influencers of the purchase decision, high stakes purchases with lengthy sales cycles, reciprocal buyer/supplier relationships, and complex touch‐points across functional areas, managerial levels, and products, among other factors unique to B2B environments.

An enterprise customer experience manager at telecom provider Orange, Emilie Smith, said: “In B2B there’s an even bigger argument for CEM linkage to revenue and profitability because often the products and services for businesses are a lot more sophisticated and cost a lot more for the company to provide them. For one account, millions may be at stake.” The head of customer experience at freight provider Maersk Line, Rene Bomholt, said: “Businesses are made up of people, and people have emotions. Close relationships with customers matter a lot.”

Inspiring stories about the progress of business customer experience management can be found throughout the 2012 best practices study, featuring companies such as Ciena, Citrix, LexisNexis, Orange, SunTrust, Symantec, tw telecom, and others in business services, building materials, remarketing, and semiconductor industries.

As the sole global B2B CEM survey, this research provides inspiration to Continue reading

Customer First Drives Business Performance

“Our client-centric banking approach is driving momentum in our core business fundamentals,” said William H. Rogers, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc. Business results for SunTrust are on a steady growth path, which the company attributes largely to renewed emphasis on Client First as a guiding principle. In my online talk show interview with Jeff VanDeVelde, Senior Vice President of Client Experience and Loyalty at SunTrust, he explained: “As our executives were re-writing our enterprise guiding principles, we determined the need to put more focus on being client 1st as a guiding principle, and especially the need to change way we include client voice in our decision-making process.”

What Does Client First Mean?
“One of the biggest challenges of people who do this work is they think that client experience and client loyalty is something that front-line people do,” said VanDeVelde. “We’ve tried to help people understand Client 1st is really everybody’s job, whether you’re doing item processing or deciding where to put your ATMs, or anything else. It means you’re using client input to inform all your decisions, not just when the client is in front of you. We engage our non-client-facing teammates by having them ask “Is this what the client would want as I design this process, or make this effort?”

Customer-Focus in Place of Product-Focus
Migrating from product-focus to customer-focus is a massive cultural change. “Part of our Continue reading

Voice of Customer for All Employees

Present voice of the customer to all employees, and you will be more likely to reap financial benefits and manage customer experience holistically, according to the 2011 Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Benchmarking Study.

Voice of Customer

Although only a third of companies are presenting customer feedback to all employees, those who do reported at least 20 percentage points advantage in the performance of holistic customer experience management, as shown by the gaps in blue and red bar graphs below. Examples of business results attributed to customer experience management efforts include:

6 Success Factors for Customer Experience Excellence

Business Customer ExperienceThe 2nd Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management (CEM) Benchmarking Study has identified six best practices for strong market performance and customer experience excellence:

  • Coordination among managers of CEM methods.
  • CEM as a determinant of corporate strategy.
  • Presentation of survey results to all employees.
  • Calculation of customer lifetime value (CLV).
  • Action on survey results by owners of customer experience key drivers.
  • Funding of cross-organizational collaboration.

These findings may be instrumental to the future of customer experience as the majority of companies have not yet implemented the above practices. Among the firms that are implementing most or all of these best practices, CEM-related business performance is much stronger and other CEM best practices are also more abundant.

Examples of business results attributed to customer experience management efforts include:

  • 200% growth in profit over the past 4 years. (Chemicals)
  • 200% increase in market share over the past 4 years. (Semiconductors)
  • Continue reading

What You Aren’t Hearing is Affecting Your Customer Service

Guest Blog by Peggy Carlaw

A sizeable percentage of customers who are displeased with service, or irritated, never provide feedback about their experiences, according to the BusinessWeek article titled Blind Spots in Customer Service, citing recent research drawn from the customer service data of financial institutions. Say you have a customer who is frustrated but not fuming—in other words, not upset enough to take the time and energy to contact you about the level of service received (and keep in mind—some people who are upset will never contact you). It takes energy and time—a precious resource for most of us—to let a company know we’re dissatisfied. Many people choose to say nothing at all and may instead quietly take their business elsewhere.

Do you consider a month with reduced customer complaints a success? Like many businesses that rely on customer service satisfaction (CSAT) rate and attempt to make changes to reduce the amount of complaints received, it’s easy to focus on the feedback you’re receiving. The challenge is to uncover what you’re not hearing. Oftentimes, it’s the lack of feedback that will ultimately erode your CSAT rates—not your low complaint numbers.

How Many Unhappy Customers Are Out There? Continue reading

10 Customer Experience Characteristics

Customer satisfaction as a business concept has been around for more than 20 years — but customer experience management (CEM) has only been discussed over the past several years. So it’s no wonder that CEM is often equated with earlier concepts. The articles listed below can be instrumental in clarifying customer experience as a unique set of truths, essential for business success with 21st century customers.

1. Perspective: customer experience is defined entirely by the customer, not the solution provider.

Customer Experience Management is More Than Engagement

This article is 5th in a series describing 10 unique characteristics of customer experience relative to more well-known concepts such as customer satisfaction and retention. The characteristic defined in this article is: Duration — Customer experience encompasses the point from which customers become aware they have a need until they say that need is extinct.

Customer engagement is really what many of us think of when we use the phrase customer experience management. During the past 15 years, customer-focus efforts have largely emphasized service excellence in contact centers, up-selling in CRM, or affinity-building in NPS or communities or references. While these customer engagement endeavors are subsets of customer experience management (CEM), they are often more revenue-oriented than customer well-being oriented, and hence, fall short of goals for superior customer experience and accompanying expectations for strong business results.

Return on Investment
For customer engagement to generate revenue, constant investment in campaigns, service, and technology are necessary. Alternatively, initial investment in CEM organically generates customer engagement for growth in revenue, and simultaneously reduces costs, for growth in profits. CEM is a dedication to serving customer needs from the customer’s perspective. By aligning the entire company with the customer’s perspective, CEM eradicates non-value-add activities and attitudes within a company, preventing hassles and minimizing waste. When customers enjoy hassle-free experiences, they’re naturally motivated to Continue reading

ROI Opportunities in B2B Customer Experience Management

Business Customer ExperienceInvestment in customer experience management has increased or remained stable since 2005 for 88% of business-to-business companies, according to the 2010 ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Benchmarking Study. As the first global B2B analysis of best practices in customer experience management (CEM), this study provides insights on the growing role of customer experience in corporations. Four out of five B2B firms assign overall responsibility for customer experience initiatives to a vice president or director-level executive, and one in five companies treats customer experience inputs as a determinant of corporate strategy.

The study equally represents both large (more than 10,000 employees) and medium-sized companies (between 1,000 and 10,000 employees) headquartered in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Industries represented include equipment, financial services, insurance, legal, medical, manufacturing, publishing, telecommunications, technology, and transportation. Half of the participants have been in a CEM job role for at least five years.

Goal Achievement
Three out of four participating companies say their customer satisfaction scores meet or exceed their goals; net promoter scores meet or exceed the goals of 54% of firms. A third of B2B firms say their goals are being met for market share, referral rates, differentiation, and loyalty, and half of the respondents say it’s too early to determine CEM’s impact on these goals.

Under-Utilized Role
The potential power of CEM is under-utilized: although more than half of company executives say that CEM is a competitive differentiator, only 24% use CEM as an influencer of major business decisions, and 20% treat CEM as a formal business process.

Narrow Implementation
Generally, CEM is focused on Continue reading

Customer Experience Management is Uncommon Sense

This article is 4th in a series describing 10 unique characteristics of customer experience relative to more well-known concepts such as customer satisfaction and retention. The characteristic defined in this article is: Preventive — Customer experience gravitates toward the easiest and nicest methods to get and use solutions that address customers’ needs.

customer experience best practices“Just talk to your customers” was the resounding answer to: “What’s the best way to learn best practices for customer experience management?” — a question I posted on several business-focused social media sites. Yet less than 60% of companies have a formal voice of the customer program.1 Why? Because we often assume we already know what customers think, or what they “should” think. Somehow it seems straightforward to cater to whoever is enabling our paycheck — everyone knows it’s foolish to do otherwise. In reality, though, this catering may be uncommon sense: have we forgotten that it’s actually customers — not supervisors or the stock market — that enable our paychecks? Maybe you’re thinking “Of course we remember it’s all about the customer!” But how can that be true when only 31% of companies say they have a high commitment to customer listening?2 As a result, typically one-fifth as many customers will say you’re customer-centric, compared to the number you may expect.3

Motives Determine Customer-Centricity:
Motives are at the heart of Continue reading

Fall in Love with Your Customers for Best Customer Experience

This article is 3rd in a series describing 10 unique characteristics of customer experience relative to more well-known concepts such as customer satisfaction and retention. The characteristic defined in this article is: Dynamic – Customer experience evolves with the customers’ context — the purpose and circumstances of their need, and overall experience reference points.

customer satisfaction surveyWhat happens when you fall in love with your customers? Aside from the typical starry-eyed craze, someone who is wildly in love has insatiable curiosity and uncanny adaptability. For an organization, this means customer-centric listening and customer-focused decisions, which result in winning customers’ hearts and budgets. Greater sincerity in love more likely leads to longer-lasting happiness, i.e. self-sustaining business results.

Insatiable Curiosity: Customer-Centric Listening

  • More vivid than traditional surveys:
    The last time you asked a new friend what they thought of something you did, you probably were intent on Continue reading

Start With Your Customers for Success in Every Strategy

This article is 2nd in a series describing 10 unique characteristics of customer experience relative to more well-known concepts such as customer satisfaction and retention. The characteristic defined in this article is: Perspective – Customer experience is defined entirely by the customer, not the solution provider.

Customers make paychecks possible, so businesses exist to serve a customer need that results in a profitable revenue stream. Customer experience management is a dedication to serving customer needs from their perspective.

Customer experience is defined entirely by customers, but the solution provider defines customer experience management (CEM). The customer is the judge of whether the experience was acceptable or stellar, or not; the customer defines the duration of their experience, as well as the context and the criteria. Therefore, CEM seeks to understand the gap between desired and current experience as seen from the customer’s viewpoint (not just the competitive performance gap, per se). Then CEM solves the gap holistically and anticipates the evolving needs of the customer to prevent future gaps.

Mis-Matched Priorities
Ironically, most strategic planning templates, consultants’ models, and business and marketing textbooks begin with other topics and address serving a customer need much later in their prescription for success. While I strongly admire and advocate these organizations’ thought leadership, I beg to differ Continue reading

Customer Survey Actions & Feedback to Customers

One of the most powerful ways to keep your customers talking to you is to show that you really read and digest their feedback, and show that you have followed their advice in making improvements. At Symantec, Motorola, and Boeing, the Vice President of Customer Experience posts online the results of their latest feedback from customers, as well as what they're doing to address that feedback.

By closing the loop with customers, you can re-set their perceptions, so they don't feel compelled to carry around negative baggage of past experiences. They can re-set their perceptions to better meet your current realities of improved policies, business processes, and customer experiences. Symantec takes this a step further with a feedback form on their website — enabling anyone anytime to either vent their frustrations or express appreciation for a job well done.

Anytime customers share feedback — whether solicited via survey or unsolicited via complaint or casual comments to front-line employees — it's important to acknowledge the customers' view and thank them, with assurance you're working on solutions. Don't let them feel like they're hanging on a cliff waiting for advice they offered to make a difference!

At Boeing, a top executive writes an open letter to all customers, explaining what they company heard from the most recent customer survey, and detailing the company's achievements Continue reading

Improve Customer Experience by Eliminating Customer-Focus Boundaries

‘Customer-focus is important for certain job roles, but for other roles, we rely on our own wisdom.’ This is poisonous thinking when some parts of your company are excused from customer-focus.

When anyone in your organization is disconnected from customers, their decision-making may in fact interfere with your company’s customer centricity and ability to maximize value to and from customers. Certainly, customers aren’t expected to have the wisdom required to run your company — but the point is, that your wisdom in all areas should be guided by customers’ values and concerns. Like a set of dominoes, what happens in one part of the company has a ripple effect on customer-facing employees, and possibly on customers as well. Every group in your enterprise can benefit from understanding their own role in improving or hindering the customer experience.

How can every part of your organization get involved in customer experience management?

Idea #1: Relevant Customer Data Streams: Continue reading

Customer Experience Data Integration for 360-Degree View

You’ve probably heard of the blind men who touched part of an elephant and were adamant about their interpretations. Businesses are in the same predicament without customer data integration for a panoramic viewpoint. In my interview with Swati Saxena, Customer Intelligence Manager at Hewlett-Packard, she outlined some of the benefits of integrating customer data:

  • Better prediction and understanding of what drives customer loyalty.
  • Identifying which products to sell to customers most profitably.
  • Prioritizing customers to target with specific offers.
  • Using the most effective messaging and communication channels, etc.
  • Reducing waste for customers and the company, for improved customer experience management.

Better Strategies from a Holistic View
“Customer data integration is akin to the parable of six blind men who were brought to an elephant and asked to touch it and describe what it was,” she explained. “One touched the elephant’s trunk and said ‘this is a snake’; one touched the tail and said ‘this is a rope’; still another touched the ear and said ‘this is a fan’. Each viewpoint was useful from a narrow perspective, but none of them were accurate about the big picture. Similarly, Continue reading