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Have you heard? Customer experience is where it's at

By Catherine Knowles, Tue 22 Mar 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The growing power of the customer is intensifing the competition for every company and business. According to Bill McMurray, Qualtrics managing director for Asia Pacific and Japan, if companies want to keep up in this hyper-competitive environment, they’ll have to create life-long brand loyalty by focusing on the people who purchase their product and service. More than ever, companies must leverage the customer experience to succeed.

“Positive customer experience creates higher value customers, more referrals and lower churn. For many, customer experience has been largely overlooked in recent decades, but positive customer experience separates industry leaders from industry failures. And Voice-of-Customer (VoC) programmes are critical for any company looking to excel at customer experience,” he says.

Murray says, when confronted with the question “How do I build a VoC?” people are often paralysed by the unknown and in some cases turn to full-service consultants to simply “do it for me”. However, this often leads to unwieldy and expensive implementations. He says, a VoC programme should be agile and cost effective to be a competitive differentiator and as such, businesses need to own their own programme and its results.

Qualtrics has identified six steps to building a successful customer experience programme.

1. Map the customer journey

Determine the most valuable metrics by identifying the most common type of customers and their personas. Consider how most customers experience the organisation throughout the customer journey, from first contact to final service or product delivery. Include touchpoints, potential roadblocks, and success gates; all of which provide an opportunity for measurement, McMurray says.

2. Identify channels and timeline

Identify what you need to know about each customer touchpoint and determine how to collect the feedback for each one. Consider how to get a mix of solicited (where companies proactively seek customer feedback e.g. email surveys) and unsolicited (collecting feedback initiated by sources outside of a company’s control e.g. social media) feedback for a fuller picture.

3. Test and iterate

Test survey questions against two key factors: reliability (when asking groups of questions relevant to a similar topic) and validity (how well survey items measure), McMurray says.

Channel feedback performance also needs to be monitored through response rate and completion rate. Ideally, conventional surveys will achieve a 10% response rate and 5% completion rate. If rates dip below these levels, there may be something wrong with the design or choice of feedback channel, he says. The most common issue that leads to poor response/completion rates is an inappropriately high number of questions.

4. Report

According to McMurray, strategic and role-based reporting is key. It is more valuable to give the right information to the right stakeholders, without overwhelming them with irrelevant data. The data needs to be real-time and meaningful to the end recipient based on their department and level.

5. Set goals

It’s important to set smart goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. If company-wide buy-in is strong, it may be possible to formally hold employees responsible for the customer experience. This depends on completing the previous steps successfully, says McMurray.

6. Act

The final and most important step is action, according to McMurray. This means addressing opportunities and always closing the loop with customers. Opportunities occur when customers have a negative experience - this lets the company engage with the customer to win back their trust and their business.

McMurray says, “Creating an exceptional customer experience isn’t fast or easy but it does deliver real bottom-line benefits through improved customer loyalty and increased revenues. While outsourcing some elements can be an option, companies that follow these six steps can overtake their competitors and achieve significant growth.” 

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