Five Steps for Building a Differentiating Customer Experience Culture

Pascal Gerard Daniel, COO of Customer Experience and Quality, Nokia Asia Pacific and Japan

Pascal Gerard Daniel, COO of Customer Experience and Quality, Nokia Asia Pacific and Japan

Most executives I met recently recognise customer experience as a primary competitive differentiator and use it as a catalyst for their digital transformation.

But they face an uncomfortable truth, recently evidenced by a Bain survey: when asked to rate their quality of CX, 80 percent of the organizations believe they are delivering a superior experience. Then, when we ask their customers, only 8 percent indicate they are receiving a great customer experience.

Organizations do not transform. People do.

Filling this ‘delivery gap’ and leapfrog CX is not a matter of incremental technology investment and process continuous improvements. First and foremost, it is about building an uncompromising customer-centric culture across the organization.

Delivering a truly excellent customer experience requires continuous enabling and development, providing your teams the right tools and techniques

What follows are five key principles for driving customer experience culture uplift and best practise that I have been collecting through years of practise in helping executives and B2C/B2B customers across Europe, Latin America, and Asia to drive customer-centric transformations.

1. Leadership Emphasis

If you plan to launch a customer experience transformation, the conversation needs to start in the boardroom and your CEO and top executives need to be onboard. They need to announce that customer-centricity is a priority, create a sense of urgency around it, and walk-the-talk internally and externally.

As an example, SingPost’s new CEO, Vincent Phang, did not wait one month after his appointment to declare customer experience improvement a top priority in front of the camera of main media outlets after the company has come under fire, notably for a series of service lapses.

If the voice of customer is not loud enough in the boardroom, consider hiring or appointing urgently a chief customer officer.

2. Enabling your Teams for Customer Success

Delivering a truly excellent customer experience requires continuous enabling and development, providing your teams the right tools and techniques. This starts from customer services courses to more advanced problem-solving certifications and customized CX driven workshops for leaders.

Hiring plays an important role too. For example, at Zappos hiring criteria is customer orientation first and technical skills second. This applies to all employees including CXOs.

The responsibility to improve CX lies with everyone in the organization so it goes much beyond sales or services roles. After all, there are no traffic jams along the extra mile!

At Nokia, the CEO sponsored Services Excellence program reached-out to more than 20,000 customer interfacing employees and top business leaders, leading to tremendous customer satisfaction scores increase and significant financial saving.

3. Measuring Satisfaction is Not Enough

Selecting the best-suited metrics is the most critical step of your CX strategy execution journey and shall be fully aligned with your company objective(s).

Do not limit yourself to the traditional metrics which are NPS (Loyalty); C-SAT (post-interaction sentiment) or CES (Customer Effort Score).

Consider following selection criteria:

• Ability to measure journey experience rather than touchpoints

• Statistical relevance (in particular for B2B customers as samples are smaller)

• Availability of actionable data to drive your organizational transformation from within

• Metrics describing what happened in the past vs what is customer purchasing future intent

Set targets for each CX metric to motivate employee and stakeholders but do it in a way it encourages the right behaviour and not score gaming.

In Nokia; we designed our own metric to go beyond transactional satisfaction as we refocused our business to B2B segment. We created a specific survey method that gives us a rich understanding of CX and how we differentiate in the long term: we call it ‘customer perceived value.’

As your program matures, introduce more advanced analytics by combining customer and employee experience ‘X-data’ with your operational ‘O-data’ so you increase ROI visibility of your CX improvements and drive further business impacts.

Look at Amazon: they have pioneered that space and are still the only company that have a patent that allows them to ship goods before an order has even been placed.

4. Closing-the-Loop

By now you have the customer feedback, metrics, and data in place. But without a close-the-loop system to turn insights into actions and improvements, they are mostly useless.

Recent CX studies show that nearly two in five or 42 percent of organisations acknowledge feedback but fail to act upon them. Even worst, 10 percent of companies ignore feedback entirely.

So, close-the-loop activities are critical and can be organized in two levels:

• Customer Level led by front-line teams to follow-up with individual customers scores and specific feedback. At Charles Schwab bank for example, they contact every customer who gives the company a negative rating or registers a complaint within 24 hours

• Organisational Level driven by functional leads to address ‘Systemic’ issues identified across multiple customers. Root cause analysis is used to drive the business process changes. At Logitech, they gather NPS for each of their products and close the loop between customers, engineers, and designers to improve product quality.

5. Sustaining Momentum

Maintaining CX program momentum over time will require continuous communication of business impact, regular events to celebrate success, and consistent rewarding of customer-centric behaviours.

Customer-centric firms have been proven to outperform CX laggards on both stock price and total financial returns, not because of technology leapfrogs but because of human advantage and customer experience culture. The good news is that it is never too late to initiate or improve your CX program, start building your customer listening channels, empower your people, and more important take action!

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