Are We Getting Our Approach to Customer Experience Wrong?

If you look at most Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes typically, they start in the contact centre. The aim of these programmes is to make customers stay longer, spend more and recruit new customers. But, there are some clear challenges that the industry is facing with these programmes, which can be backed up with stats from Forrester:

  • Over a third of VoC programmes have had no executive support.
  • 60% of organisations don’t use the programme for customer experience design (such as asking better questions, following-up with customers and knowing when is best to follow up).
  • Two thirds of all VoC programmes don’t have an engaged front-line, meaning they stay at the top level. They stay as board reports and statistics, rather than being embedded within the organisation.
  • The most startling of all, 45% of all participants undergoing VoC programmes don’t close the loop for the customer. So, in other words, they ask for feedback, they ask for improvements, but then don’t do anything with this information

So what we want to ask is whether customer experience is really more of an execution challenge than it is a strategic challenge.

The frustrations with a traditional approach to VoC

The traditional world of market research is effectively turning customer experience into a pseudo-science. But the ‘science’ behind it is pretty poor. What people and brands actually need is more hands-on, practical advice on how to do better every day for their customers. If you really boil it down and make it really simple: customer service is about how you make me feel as a consumer when I deal with you. It’s nothing more, nothing less.

To think that you could devise a clever strategy and put that thinking into a spreadsheet, is misguided. By the time it hits the organisational structure, the strategy probably needs changing again. What we want to explore is where technology can help the organisation and, more importantly, get the teams that work with customers to own the challenge and empower them to help customers.

The new model: Start with engagement, not strategy

We want to flip the way that brands are doing things. In short, shift from strategy to execution. The point here is that customer experience is really all about execution and not so much about strategy.

The traditional approach for building VoC programmes comes from market research. It starts with a strategy, which goes onto insight, then to execution and finally you get to engagement.

These strategies are all based around collecting a lot of information – to gain more insight you need to collect a lot of information. But there are real problems with this approach.

For example, the model you’re building with the insight needs to stay stable. If you want to have a statistical representative model, you can’t really change your questions. The model then becomes more and more important over time, which limits the things you can and cannot do. Imagine, for example, that you want to ask another question, or change the questions that you ask. Both of these would be quite difficult to do within the restrictions of the model. As well, the volume of feedback customers are asked to give becomes tedious and leads to fatigue.

We want to shift to a new approach, whereby we flip the model on its head. This new approach is really about starting with engagement, to let engagement drive execution, from execution we move to insight and, then, let that drive strategy.

Rather than starting with strategy, we’re starting with engagement

We believe that if you get the engagement level right, you can have a more flexible model for developing your strategy over time. This gives you the space to engage with your customers, start to close the loop on feedback and recover customers, without the restrictions of the traditional VoC model.

This approach also presents an ideal opportunity to engage employees, so it doesn’t become a management programme (one of the challenges revealed by the Forrester stats). By making your programme about engagement, you have a far higher chance of engaging the front-line. And, by focusing on engagement, you’ll also become more obsessed with changing your questions and being more creative about the way you engage with customers. This will, naturally, start to drive higher engagement.

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Dennis Fois

Dennis was appointed CEO in 2018 following a 12 month tenure as President & Chief Operating Officer. He has more than 25 years’ experience in international leadership, strategy and sales and marketing in the technology and financial services markets. Dennis previously held the role of CEO at Rant & Rave and has held senior leadership positions at eGain, Barclays, Solera and ADP.

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