Change is hard, and recently we have all seen rapid, juxtaposed and mostly uncomfortable change in the world that has directly impacted our daily lives.
In business over the last three years, I have also correlated that to the sudden interest by employers in my skillset as a customer experience transformationalist. This is a name that I invented to encapsulate the specific actions that have led to some interesting engagements over recent years.
I want to share this journey with you and ask that you reflect on how some of these things may also be happening where you work, either by design or by accident.
So where can I begin? I could begin 20 years ago when I started in the software SaaS industry and Sales and then Technical Support roles. I was there when the shift took place to a subscription model and observed how that impacted and warranted a closer inspection of the customer experience – though it wasn’t really called that then. The advent of the ‘instant answer’ Google, coupled with Amazon’s almost instant delivery, put businesses at a sudden disadvantage since most support and delivery models at that time were comparatively slow, hierarchical and process heavy.
Finally, speed was not being sacrificed for quality, yet the B2B world was slow to realise this. While leading Technical and Renewal Teams, my constant desire to learn more made me start delving into the psychology of customer surveys. I was looking for a way to understand the experience that a customer was having beyond seeing the interaction. Measuring the volume, time to close, and perhaps the quality internally was a good start, but it still didn’t tell me how the customer was feeling about the experience, the interaction, or the relationship.
This curiosity to measure and understand what the customer was experiencing helped me correlate and conclude that the carefully constructed and now somewhat antiquated, post-sales experience eroded the initial trust. I started to apply what I was learning to develop better customer experiences. Most viewed my approach as something akin to witchcraft and fluffy magic that couldn’t be measured, but was nice to have.
Fast forward ten years, and brand loyalty is nothing like it was. But I had already started designing experiences that were transparent, effortless and effective. I encouraged and empowered both customers and the people working with me to be successful. It never ends, and I must be comfortable with the constant change, but on the plus side, when done right, it can and should be measured.
This brings me to the present, when customers want their experiences to be personal, and companies everywhere are screaming that they want to be ‘customer-centric.’ With no connection in between these two ideas, where do you start? Whilst there will not be a blueprint that I can provide to give you instructions on how to make the dream a reality for your company, as I am going through the process of creating a successful Customer Experience at Red Sift , I can share these considerations that will put you on the right track:
- Any time invested by the customer must be an efficient use of that time and honoured with recognition. With expectations high and the marketplace crowded, it’s just too easy for customers to find another vendor when the current one falls short.
- Listening to customers is an eco-system that must be the backbone that runs throughout the service experience and leads to success. Without mapping this first, it is unlikely you will ever create anything more than a fleeting ‘campaign’ or ‘project’ – both of which have expiry end dates.
- The key to success for any CX transformation is to ensure that the data being asked for is leveraged:
- Internally: to promote how much customers love you but also opportunities to improve at the customer interaction level, at the employee experience level and right up to the dizzy height of company ‘North Star’ high-level organisational decision level.
- Externally: to provide feedback and close the loop on individual feedback, to recognise and create nurture campaigns, and ideally, to create an advocacy program for promoters and passive and detractor customers. Strive to be transparently customer-led in all communications at an organisational level, from event choices to the latest product and service improvements. Recognise feedback that led to the decisions the company has made.
- Ensure there are measures in place with leading and lagging indicators from all the activities that are considered. Ideally tying to bottom line.
Honour customers, keep their trust, recognise and grow the ones that are fans, and you will earn the right to expand your business because you won’t be talking about having a good customer experience – you will be living it. Ultimately, if you use and apply the tips above, you will be able to directly tie the results to improved profit margins.
Claudia Belardo brings decades of experience in the SaaS world, leading and executing best in class Support and Services teams. Applying her experience and skills in various grassroots programs in her current role as Vice President of Customer Success, she is responsible for the Customer Success and Services organization, along with the successful implementation of the Red Sift Customer Success strategic plan, touching CX, CS and EX disciplines for the first time. This greenfield program starts with owning and driving six key strategic priorities and overseeing, monitoring and supporting their success as well as taking ownership of their delivery. Continuing to drive customer-focused change throughout the organization by pulling together insights to build compelling business cases for change and prioritizing CX improvement programs is another important aspect of the plan.
Claudia is Customer Institute Director, an Accredited Customer Experience Master (ACXM), a Certified Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) Practitioner and a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). You can contact Claudia via https://www.linkedin.com/in/claudiabelardo/ or https://twitter.com/kaosfusion.