What’s the Buzzzzz About with Customer Experience?

042214_CXPA-2014IE-Sponsor-BannerWhat does customer experience mean to you? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing this term a lot lately. In fact, ABR is a sponsor for this year’s CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association) Insight Exchange and some of our team members will be attending the Insight Exchange next month in Atlanta.

If you’re tuned into Forrester research, they tell us that “empowered customers have given rise to a new era we call the Age of the Customer.” Companies must create “customer experience ecosystems” that are “customer obsessed,” meaning they are deeply knowledgeable of and engaged with their customers to succeed in this age. Successful ecosystems provide their customers with quality interactions at each touchpoint with their brand through the marriage of people, processes, policies, and systems. When done effectively, the customer’s perception of their brand at every interaction is positive, increasing their level of commitment to the brand and impacting the bottom line. Creating a consistent experience for customers is big business.

More times than not, organizations can define their customer wants and how to best satisfy those wants throughout the customer lifecycle. What is often challenging is how to permeate this ideal state throughout the organization – how to build the customer experience ecosystem. The first step is to break down the strategy into a structured set of competencies that define the behaviors and skills employees must act upon and that the company can measure. From here, different modalities can be used to communicate the strategy and gain the necessary buy-in, and then help employees master the required competencies to act on the strategy. Lastly, reinforcement tools are needed to ensure that the supporting behaviors are built into everyone’s daily routine.

To bring this concept to life, below is an example of a solution that ABR recently created to help our client build a customer experience ecosystem.

Customer Experience Online Learning Module
This short eLearning module builds awareness and understanding of the customer experience competencies across the organization. It defines the strategy from the customer’s point of view, then backs into the skills and behaviors necessary to demonstrate a customer experience competency. The module also helps to reinforce the overall strategy, providing employees with a vehicle to connect with the content from wherever they are before attending the face-to-face Application Instructor-Led Training (ILT) sessions.

Application Instructor-Led Training (ILT) Sessions
Application ILTs provide employees with multiple opportunities to apply the customer experience knowledge and skills gained in the Customer Experience Online Learning Module to their own reality. Employees partake in various interactive activities, which provides insight into typical customer situations and interactions from the customer’s perspective as well as their own, and highlights the differences and strategies for affecting positive customer experience outcomes. For example, the opening activity is experiential in nature and is designed to help employees see things from their own perspectives as customers. By using a common reference point (dining in a restaurant), employees experience first-hand the impact that service has on a customer’s relationship with a company. This experience provides a vehicle for rich conversation around how employee behavior impacts customer expectations, which drives how committed a customer is to the brand. Employees are then tasked with evaluating various scenarios to predict whether the interaction will lead to greater commitment. With this activity, the goal is to gain employee perspective and buy-in to the importance of building a customer experience ecosystem.

Customer Experience Toolkit
The toolkit includes a range of resources designed to drive ongoing learning beyond the Application ILTs. These resources include materials such as activity/meeting plans, self-paced assignments, discussion guides, and job aids. For example, one resource provides materials to conduct a meeting that highlights the internal activities that ultimately affect customer interactions. Employees who can role play other roles within their organization can better understand how they may directly impact the customer experience even when they are not directly customer-facing. The toolkit also provides visibility and implementation support by guiding leaders on how and when to use resources. Using a toolkit helps bring the training to life by proactively reminding leaders to keep the initiative top-of-mind and directing them to the resources to do so.

Much like a successful customer experience comes from the compilation of positive touchpoints throughout the customer lifecycle, manifesting this customer experience ecosystem throughout the organization is achieved through the integration of multiple training and communications touchpoints.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” –Jeff Bezos

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