Standardize Great Customer Experience Delivery

Sam Stern

In my last report, "Standardize Great Customer Experience Delivery," I look at how companies create, share, and assess customer experience (CX) standards. Done well, CX standards prevent avoidable customer experience mistakes, ensure consistent experience delivery, and set a high bar for customer experience quality.

But bad CX standards are worse than no standards at all.

Unfortunately, customer experience professionals can make current problems worse — and even cause new problems — when they create the wrong CX standards. Remember the infamous Comcast customer-service call from the summer? That was, in part, caused by a bad CX standard. Comcast created a standard for its call center reps that requires them to capture a specific reason why a customer is canceling his or her service before moving forward in their scripts. Back in July, a customer recorded his agonizing attempt to cancel without providing a reason and then posted it online — where it was listened to by millions, creating a public relations nightmare.

But don’t give up on CX standards. 

To craft the right standards, CX professionals should identify which parts of the experience need standards, create effective standards that strike an appropriate balance, socialize and reinforce the standards with all employees, and measure the impact of standards on customer and business metrics to confirm that they work.

Read more

Customer Experience Q&A With Andrew Murphy Of John Lewis

Harley Manning

I get just as excited as the next analyst about the latest and greatest startup. But you know what? There’s something extra cool about a brand that’s been around since 1864, and yet runs neck-and-neck with Amazon in our UK customer experience rankings.

That’s why we invited Andrew Murphy, retail director of John Lewis Department Stores, to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London on November 17th and 18th, 2014.

As we near the event, Andrew graciously answered some of our most pressing questions about the why and how of John Lewis’ famous service experience — which is all the more impressive given its brand promise: “Never Knowingly Undersold.” (Translation: Great customer experience doesn’t have to mean high prices.)

I hope you enjoy his responses, and I look forward to seeing some of you in London!

Q: When did John Lewis first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?  

A: John Lewis has had a long-term focus on what we would previously have termed “customer service,” dating back to our founding principles from 1864. More recently, the advent of omnichannel retailing with all of its inherent demands has caused us to revisit these principles and redouble our efforts to provide a truly world-class customer experience.

Read more

You Need Great Employee Experiences To Create Great Customer Experiences

TJ Keitt

It's easy to get swept up in the power of the digital age, where smart mobile devices and cloud services open the door for new and exciting ways to engage customers. We think a lot about how these technologies will create enticing customer experiences (CX), making these digital touchpoints the face of the brand. I admit, as a technology fan, I'm enamored with this idea. But I'm also someone who thinks a lot about technology and the workforce, so I was equally animated by a conversation I recently had with the head of a CX consultancy. He warned that businesses risk over rotating on technology, viewing their people as receding in importance in delivering satisfactory customer experiences. He went on to say that businesses that make this make do so at their own peril. I agree.

More than three quarters of the information workforce -- those using a computing device (e.g. PC, smartphone, tablet) at least one hour per day -- interact with at least one customer as a routine part of their job. Over half of the workforce regularly interact with customers, partners, and customers. Are CX professionals thinking about the experiences these employees need as they think about customer needs? And -- close to my heart as a tech guy -- have they thought about what these neat digital tools can do for their employees, as they have about digital's effect on customers?

Read more

Indian Firms Have The Wrong Customer Experience Reporting Structure

Nupur Singh Andley

While analyzing the survey results for my recent report on the state of customer experience management in India, I noticed a fundamental flaw in the way that Indian organizations approach reporting structures for their customer experience (CX) teams. About a fifth of the organizations we surveyed rely on their customer service department to lead the charge for CX initiatives.

This is detrimental to the growth of CX, as there are basic differences between the scope of work and the skill sets of the two teams. Specifically, customer service teams have limited capabilities and exposure across:

  • People. While both CX and customer service teams work toward enhancing the experience across the customer life cycle, the customer service team has a somewhat myopic view of customer engagement, focusing predominantly on handling client complaints and resolving queries.
  • Processes. Forrester defines customer experience as how customers perceive their interactions with a company. The contribution of customer service teams to this process is limited to supporting customer tasks in a few phases of the journey.
  • Tools. Customer service professionals are responsible for the experience delivered via multiple touchpoints, such as IVR systems, contact centers, and social media. However, other equally important customer interfaces, such as mobile applications, digital kiosks, and eCommerce platforms, fall outside their purview.
Read more

Journey Mapping: What Is It Good For? Absolutely Anything!

Deanna Laufer

I recently had the pleasure of facilitating three customer journey mapping workshops for clients. For me, the most rewarding part of these workshops is when, all of a sudden, you see the light bulb go on for the participants. It can be the realization that their customer has to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to submit a simple service request or have to wait five to 10 days for repair . . . or when the workshop participants realize they have no idea what their customers are doing or thinking, but maybe they should.

Just as the light-bulb moment can be different for each person, the insights they deem most valuable can vary and include:  

  • Ideas for designing future-state experiences. A group of participants from a retailer created a future-state journey map illustrating how customers could sign up for a credit card and rewards program while shopping in-store. They identified scenarios for how store associates could approach customers with credit card offers without seeming intrusive as well as appropriate opportunities to follow up with customers by email or mobile app if they chose not to enroll right away. These types of insights can then inform the design of the new credit card and rewards experience.
  • A sense of empathy for the customer. We ask workshop participants within the same organization to wear name tags because not only do we not know them but also most of the time they don’t know each other. In one workshop, the organization was siloed, as most are, and each participant owned her own small functional part of the customer journey. But no one had insight into or ownership of the entire process. When brought together to analyze the health of the end-to-end journey, participants walked away with a shared understanding that what they were each doing individually wasn’t working for the customer as a whole.
Read more

Data-Driven Design Reshapes Businesses And Experiences

Tony Costa

As I wrote in my previous blog post and report on "The Data-Driven Design Revolution," the digitization of customer experiences — both online and in physical environments — has greatly expanded the depth and breadth of customer data available. This abundance of data has profoundly changed how experience design teams use and manage customer data. Its impact, however, doesn’t end there. This newfound abundance of customer data also fuels new business pressures and experiences. Chief among them being:

  • Organizational velocity is the new competitive differentiator, driving experiences to operate in real time, all the time. The speed with which companies can convert customer data into insights and insight into action is now a critical differentiator. Companies can no longer rely on linear approaches to data analysis — spending six months to gather data on a problem, many more months to analyze it, and even longer to act on it. Doing so will cause companies to bleed customers away to more nimble competitors. As Marc Andreessen recently tweeted, “Cycle time compression may be the most underestimated force in determining winners and losers in tech.”
Read more

Great Customer Experience, European Style

Harley Manning

I love Europe. I especially love the fact that in a very real sense there is no “Europe” as such: The UK experience is not the German experience, which is not the French experience, which is not the Italian experience, and so on.

Yet all of these countries are so close together that once I’m over there, I can visit a variety of very different cultures and architectures more easily than I can travel from Boston to Denver. And in any given city, just walking between buildings from one business meeting to another can make me feel like I’m on vacation. Then there’s the food . . .

Although European variety is amazing, it can also create challenges. On a recent trip, I was in London, Rome, Milan, and Budapest within a two-week period. That often brought me into contact with people in service industries — like taxis, restaurants, and hotels — who had very different ideas of what “service” means than I do.

I began to wonder: Do the locals also find some of this service subpar, or am I just being a parochial American? As it turns out, our recent research shows that European customer experience as judged by local customers does vary wildly depending on country and industry, ranging from truly great to truly awful.

Which is one reason why I’m so excited by Forrester’s upcoming Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA on November 17th and 18th in London. We recruited speakers from companies with customers who say that they’re already doing a standout job as well as speakers from companies that are in the midst of tackling tough CX challenges.

Read more

Throwback Thursday: Getting Executives Engaged In The CX Transformation

Megan Burns

One of the most common questions I get from CX professionals is this: “How do I get my executives to support the work I’m trying to do?” In 2009, when the CX space was just starting to gain traction at the C-level, I wrote a report on that topic. I pulled that report up earlier this week to share with a colleague and realized that its key takeaways are as true today as they were five years ago.  

Taking a page from the Facebook culture, I decided to make this Throwback Thursday and bring the report back into the CX conversation. You can read the full report here, but the key things that stand out to me after all this time are:

  • You don’t need buy-in; you need action. I think of CX as the “eat healthy and exercise” of the business world. Everyone “buys in” to the idea of treating customers well, at least in public. What they don’t do is change their behavior or encourage change in the people who work for them. CX professionals need to stop asking for buy-in and start asking specific executives to do specific things.
Read more

It’s time for police departments to start measuring the customer experience

Rick Parrish

In response to recent tragedies, many commentators have suggested requiring every police officer to wear a video camera and microphone at all times. Some activists even suggest that these videos be publicly live-streamed for maximum accountability. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, despite some technical, budgetary, and legal hurdles.

Other commentators have pointed out that videos aren’t as objective as people think. They are open to interpretation, and risk inflaming opinions on both sides without solving anything. But that’s not the biggest problem with videos. Their biggest weakness is this:

Videos can’t provide the systematic, standardized, quantifiable feedback that we need to understand people’s own perspectives on their everyday experiences with the police.

That’s why police departments should start acting more like the best companies, and measure their customers’ experiences. There are several key tools for doing this, and one of the most important is a customer experience survey. We all get these surveys – they ask about how well the company met our needs, how easy it was to work with, how we felt during the process, how likely we are to say positive things about it, etc.

Retailers use these surveys, as do investment firms, hotels, nonprofits, and every other organization that wants to understand what its customers think and feel, and uncover the drivers of great experiences. If we can easily rate the people who deliver food, sell cars, and hook up TVs, why can’t we do the same for the people who carry guns, write tickets, and make arrests?

Read more

Announcing The Speakers At Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West, 2014 — November 6-7 in Anaheim, CA

John Dalton

It’s with great pleasure that I announce the agenda for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in Anaheim, CA, on November 6 & 7. We’re mixing things up this year — new formats for speakers, new hands-on, activity-based workshops in addition to track sessions, and a stellar gallery of guest speakers. And we’ve wrapped all of this up with an overarching theme: “Why Good Is Not Good Enough.”

We picked this theme because our Customer Experience Index (CXi) told us to. Seriously. Check this out: According to the latest CXi, the number of brands scoring in the “very poor” category is down to one out of 175. What’s more, only a handful of brands — 10% — are in the “poor” category. Together, these findings show that as customer experience improvement efforts gained momentum over the past year or so, the number of truly awful experiences declined, dramatically. That’s reassuring. Kudos to all the businesses out there that screw up less!

Now for the sobering news: Only 11% of brands in the CXi made it into the “excellent” category.

What that means of course is that most brands are clustering in the middle of the curve — they’re not awful in the eyes of their customers, but they’re not remarkable either. Translation: A merely good customer experience is no longer good enough if you want to deliver a differentiated experience and reap incremental sales, positive word of mouth, and better customer retention. You’re gonna have to raise your game.

Read more