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What is Customer Experience Excellence?

The ability to provide Customer Experience Excellence is both a factor of, and goal for, organizations on an Operational Excellence Journey

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For companies practising Operational Excellence, there is a fine line to walk between streamlining to maximise efficiency, and quality of the product/service - a key example of this would be in the case of areas such as Customer Experience. 

Simply put, the 'Customer Experience' marks the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.

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The 6 Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence

Customer Experience Excellence

Infographic courtesy of KPMG.com

1. Personalisation:

The degree to which the experience is tailored towards the needs of the individual and reflects their particular circumstances. Customers of Lush for example talk about the diagnostic conversations they have with staff before recommendations are made. Customers of Amazon have long marvelled at how the recommendation engine is able to find items that seem to particularly appeal to them as individuals are then able to set a delivery date that meets their requirements for time and cost.

2. Integrity:

The degree to which consumers believe the firm is trustworthy and likely to act in their best interests. Co-operative Bank and First Direct for example are believed to be organisations that put the customer’s needs ahead of profits. First Direct encourages open feedback via social media demonstrating they have nothing to hide. For John Lewis and Waitrose the needs of the staff, the needs of the shareholders and the needs of the customer are inextricably intertwined. Since front line staff (partners) are the shareholders. They know what customers want and both organisations have learnt to harness this deep understanding.

3. Time & Effort:

How easy do firms make it for consumers to buy from them? Amazon is the exemplar. Intuitive recommendations coupled with one click ordering lead to rapid delivery. Amazon has systematically removed every obstacle to purchase. First Direct customers value enormously being able to get through immediately to a real person rather than a call handling machine offering multiple options.

Customer Experience Excellence

4. Expectations:

These are set explicitly though the brand promise and implicitly through interactions. They particularly value times when this is exceeded. Similarly, for example, Ocado customers value the one hour delivery slots and the consistent reliability with which this is achieved.

5. Resolution:

No matter how well developed or how mature business processes might be things will go wrong. What sets the top companies apart is how they deal with problems as they occur. Their start point is to assume the customer is right. They do not waste time validating their responsibility they just get on with fixing the problem. For these companies this means seeing the process end to end and taking ownership of problems even when third parties are involved. It is based on allowing staff to step outside of the rules to get things fixed. Reacting with lightning speed to put the customer back in the position they would have been in had the problem not occurred in the first place. Heroic recovery as John Lewis describes it.

6. Empathy:

Each of the top companies talks about people and culture. The ability their people have to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and react accordingly. First Direct customers talk about how their agents see the world from their point of view, Green Flag customers talk about how the agents and engineers instantly empathise with their predicament. For Waitrose and John Lewis customers it is the value of advice. For each of these companies empathy is accompanied with reassurance, advice and a solution.

    The 3 Ps of Customer Experience Excellence

    Since the future is NOW, let’s consider how you are doing from the standpoint of personalization, being proactive, and omnichannel. I will call it the three Ps:

    Personal

    Proactive

    Platform

    Personal

    In past blogs, I’ve suggested a distinction between personalization and personal care. For me, personalization involves technologies like CRM, artificial intelligence, big data, etc. to position content, offerings, and service in ways that fit individual consumers. An example of personalization occurs when Starbucks messages people who drink nonfat lattes only when the company releases new low-calorie items.

    Personal care, by contrast, involves people demonstrating emotional intelligence, gratitude, and unique, human warmth. In my opinion, to deliver against Walkers’ prediction regarding a personalized experience, brands must execute both personalization AND personal care.

    Proactive

    Proactive service is something I learned a lot about back in the days prior to the release of my book The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel CompanyIn fact, the elegant service experience of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company relies on the flawless execution of three rather simple steps to service:

    1. A warm and sincere greeting.
    2. Use the guest’s name. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.
    3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.

    The essential difference between quality service and exceptional experiences often comes down to the degree to which a brand not only meets a customer’s stated needs but also anticipates their unstated ones.

    Platform

    Platform means meeting your customers on their terms. Effectiveness requires knowing where and how your customer prefers to interact and focusing on efficient and responsive communication through their preferred channels.

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