Use this framework to ensure a great delivery of customer experience
Delivering great customer experience must be one of the most important objectives of any organisation. If it is successful the organisation will build loyal and devoted customers. It will build a brand that people will return to again and again in preference to any other. If there is genuine great customer experience, people will tell others about it and they will pay a premium for the products or services. As a result, building a great customer experience strategy will prove profitable.
All this is obvious "motherhood and apple pie" and yet so many companies fail to deliver great customer experience. They know that customer experience is vital but they may be deluded into believing they excel in its delivery. They treat customers as problems they could do without. They pare down their offers to reduce costs and as a result fail to deliver against customer expectations.
There are dozens of books and papers on customer experience, most of them say the obvious – be super nice to your customers and they will keep returning. This is usually supported by tips on how to keep customers happy. This is a gross over simplification. Great customer experience is not about saying "Have a nice day".
Research carried out in 2016 by Julia Cupman, a director of B2B International, identified the foundations for great customer experience. Nick Hague and Paul Hague pulled this and other research together in a book called B2B customer experience: a practical guide to delivering exceptional CX. It launched a framework for managing customer experience programmes.
The survey by Julia Cupman found that more than half of 200 large companies surveyed had customer experience programmes that fail on six critical foundations:
Commitment: leaders of a company have to be truly committed to delivering great customer experience. This means that when times are hard and budgets are tight, customer experience is still a priority. 41% of companies surveyed acknowledged that their customer experience programs fail on commitment.
Fulfilment: it is vital to understand customers' needs in order that they can be satisfied. Fulfilment means delivering against customer expectations. 59% of companies surveyed believe that their customer experience programmes fail on this dimension.
Seamlessness: customers want their dealings with suppliers to be easy. They don't want to know about internal difficulties faced by the supplier. 74% of companies surveyed said that they fail their customers on this important factor.
Responsiveness: in this busy and demanding world customers expect a timely response to their requests and orders. 51% of companies surveyed said that they fail in delivering adequate responsiveness to their customers.
Proactivity: customers want their suppliers to anticipate their needs. 73% of companies do not believe that they are successful in this respect.
Evolution: customers are always hungry for faster, cheaper, better products. 66% of companies say that they fail in delivering improvements to their products and services.
When a company gets the six foundations in place, it can develop a customer experience strategy. For this a company needs the right products, at the right price, delivered through the right channels, with the right promotion and brands, and supported by the right people.
With solid foundations and a good strategy, a customer experience programme can be made distinctive and more powerful by tactics. These are the little things that really matter such as service with a smile, resolving a complaint and providing unexpected compensation, going the extra mile etc.
These various components of a customer experience programme can be brought together in a framework that resembles a house - the house of customer experience.
The six pillars form the foundations of great customer experience and these make sure that the house stays solid. The 4Ps, together with the right people and a great brand, form the strategy. The tactics (the little things that matter) sit on top of the house and make the roof.
The framework must also accommodate different segments of the market. This is exemplified in the model by a man and a woman who stand outside the house, admiring it. They may want slightly different things from the house but that is to be expected. Just as with customers, there will be many aspects they both love.
Some things to think about:
What do your customers really want? What do they want beyond the core product they are buying? What would augment your offer to ensure that customers would recommend your product, pay a premium, and return again and again to buy it?
How do you determine what customers really want? Are you second-guessing their needs. Or are you finding out through objective research? Are you carrying out qualitative research to find out the strengths of emotions people have about customer experience with your company?
When did you last walk in your customers' shoes? When did you last feel what it is like to be a customer at your company?
How much time does the CEO of your company and senior managers spend talking to customers and potential customers?