Guest Blogger

By James Bolle VP, Head of Client Services EMEA and Country Manager

If there was ever a year that put Customer Experience (CX) on the map, it was 2016. It has been hailed ‘The Year of Customer Experience’ due to the vast growth the industry has seen this year. However, the rise of CX has only just begun.

Having spoken to many CX leaders during events and conferences throughout this year, it is clear to see that many share the same thoughts on the key priorities in this field.

Here, I share the top five areas where leading CX brands are excelling, and lagging brands should look to emulate:

  1. Customer Experience Is a Strategic Imperative

We’re at a point where every organization shouldn’t just consider having a CX programme; every organization needs a programme. We’re also now at a point where senior-level management must buy in and be engaged with their brand’s programme. Executive buy-in percolates throughout the entire organization and ultimately creates a better overall customer experience. Great customer experience leads to trust, which builds emotional equity over time, which results in brand loyalty and ROI.

One of our clients, New Look, is doing just this – leading to incredible improvements in their CX. When introducing their own CX strategy, New Look appointed a new member of staff to ensure the customer experience was well managed and truly at the forefront of what they do.

The new Head of Customer Service, Louise Moghaddam, ensures that every member of staff was engaged with New Look’s CX programme, including senior management, helping drill the strategic imperative of CX into the business.

  1. Identify Customer Expectations and Make Them Reality

Hand in hand, technology and customer expectations continue to advance. Identify your brand’s customer expectations and take the necessary actions to make them a reality. Even small changes can make a big impact – as was the case for one of our clients, iNTERTAIN. iNTERTAIN runs Aussie-bar Walkabout, famed for its dedication to showing key sporting events throughout the year. During high peak times in one of its London venues, customers felt they were waiting too long for their food to come. Walkabout took that feedback and turned it into a new business relationship with Pieminster, offering customers a ready-to-eat option during busy times.

In addition to listening to customers’ needs, benchmark your organization against more than just your industry, avoid irritants, do the basics right, and look for spectacular tweetable moments. Deliver on your brand promise, and your customers will reward you.

  1. The Right Experiences Are Created by Hiring the Right People

Every thought leader I have spoken to at conferences or an event throughout the year state that employees are the key to better CX. Customer-centric organizations are hiring employees based on attitude first and then training them the necessary skills. New Look are another great example of this. Traditionally, retailers look for particular competencies in an employee, such as experience working on a till. New Look cast that approach aside and adopted a new one – hiring staff based on personal traits. The ability to engage naturally and personably with a customer is not-so-easily learned, and has a much stronger impact on customer experience.

By hiring employees that prioritize human emotion and empowering them with the ability to take action based on individual customer needs, New Look have set themselves up to create memorable customer experiences and loyal, lifetime customers. It is a simple way to ensure your company is at one with your customers.

Competition and demand for customer-centric employees is becoming so intense that CX qualifications may be on the horizon in 2017.

  1. Use Technology to Empower Employees and Deliver Greater CX

While the right experiences are created by hiring the right people, the same line of thinking must be applied with technology. The right attitude is only part of great customer-centric employees. Your organization must also empower them with the right technology and tools to create the best customer experience possible. By using advanced technology, employees gain more time to focus on your customers.

InMoment recently introduced a Voice of Employee solution. VoE is different from traditional employee feedback regarding satisfaction about their jobs, benefits, opportunities for professional growth, and so on. VoE is feedback that contains the employee perspective on the customer experience. Many brands do this occasionally, but few harness this important intelligence in a systematic way. Utilizing technology to ensure your employees always have a forum to share weigh in on root causes of problems as well as new opportunities is a crucial element of a comprehensive customer experience programme

  1. Connect with Customers on a Personal Level

Your customers want to know that you care about them. Technology can certainly help your organization understand and personalize the customer experience, but they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, the best way to personalise your customer experience is usually doing it the old-fashioned way: real-life interaction driven by a desire to create a better experience for each individual customer. Many brands limit personalisation to advertising and marketing messages. Customers want personalisation at every touchpoint, but most importantly during care and service interaction where emotions often run high and patience short.

Personalizing the customer experience is not an initiative. It must run through everything your organization does.

Great Customer Experience Comes from Within

These five areas where top CX brands are leading are good places to set your sights. However, one overarching theme must pervade all efforts: great customer experience comes from within. Look inward at your organization and focus every level of it on providing a better, more personal customer experience.

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