Customer experience is set to become the top brand differentiator in the next few years. As a result, business leaders are getting serious about CEM (Customer Experience Management).
What is customer experience management?
Firstly, let’s begin with the definition of customer experience.
The customer experience is the sum of all the interactions a customer has with a company over the lifetime of the relationship. It very much includes the emotions and perceptions of the individual.
An experience is either going to dazzle someone, neutralise them, or anger them.
Customer experience management is a strategy used to help a business focus on the needs of its customers instead of it’s internal processes.
The customer journey (more on this later) is the strategy that is intended to ‘close the gap’ between the desired customer experience and the actual customer experience.
Customer Experience Management (CEM) is software that is used to automatically collect and analyse customer feedback. Good software delivers customer insights, analytics, reporting options and integration with a company’s existing Customer Relationship Management software (CRM).
CEM software asks your customers a very simple one or two question survey; the feedback resulting from this can then be used to measure, understand and further improve the customer experience.
Important point! Most companies fail to ask the right questions, and then also do not understand how to use feedback to analyse and improve the customer experience.
Using CEM software is much cheaper than outsourcing standard market research which is expensive and takes long to develop. They also usually require incentives to get people to take the time to complete them, which is an added cost.
CEM surveys on the other hand, are short, to the point and can be acted on immediately.
What constitutes a good customer experience?
Companies go wrong when they think that the customer experience is all about the service customers receive from the Help Desk.
Your Help Desk is part of the experience, but there are a whole lot more areas involved.
Instead, its made up of all the following aspects:
- People: a company’s employees – all those who interact with customers, in any capacity – need to be trained to know not only how to deal with customers, but also in service recovery (when something goes wrong and your brand’s reputation is at stake).
- Processes: a company’s customer-facing processes need to be carefully designed, standardised and implemented.
- Technology: technology helps deliver a good customer experience. For example, it can speed up the amount of time a customer needs to wait for your product to be delivered.
- Branding: a company’s branding – including the physical building that customers visit – creates an impression and can either detract or uplift a brand’s reputation.
A great customer experience addresses these points:
- The quality of service is consistent throughout the organisation instead of being dependent on the employee giving it. This means that every employee who has any type of access to your customers, has been trained. That means not only customer facing staff, but also those who engage with customers in the billing department. No matter how a customer gets in touch with the company, the service must be the same, regardless of the channel.
- Impacts the customer’s emotions positively. Again, employees need to be trained in how to deal with and delight customers, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should be based on this. Interpersonal skills are essential for those employees who engage on any level with customers, as they need to be attentive, patient, and always put the needs of the customer above their own.
- Service is fast, whether a customer contacts the business via Facebook Messenger, at the Help Desk, via email, on a website contact form, and so on. Processes must stipulate turnaround times of response to any queries, from social media avenues to email to Live Chat, and so on.
- Those who engage with customers must have company and product/service knowledge in order to sufficiently assist customers.
- Employees need to be trained to become solution-oriented, so that they can address and resolve issues promptly. They also need to be given authority to take the right action to address problems, all with the intention of retaining the customer.
- Keeps the human touch; processes can’t all be automated. In some areas, to get the best results means having a skilled human take action. For example, you can measure and trend the customer experience, but if no one takes action on the feedback, the service will simply remain the same.
- Service is personalised. Avoid treating customers as a number. Personalise their experience as far as possible.
What is a customer journey?
The customer journey is a planned customer experience for every touch point.
Essentially, it’s a term used by companies to create the customer experience instead of leaving it to chance. It’s the customer experience by design.
For every company to excel in the customer experience, they have to first strategise processes and plan for what they want to achieve as far as the customer relationship goes.
Why companies should map out their desired customer journeys.
To do this, they use mapping, which has three stages:
- Drawing out the customer journey lifecycle according to the customer, not the company. This information can be gleaned from SEM software, because in order to understand what customers go through when they interact with your business, you have to collect their perspectives.
- Identify every touchpoint in the company.
- Analyse the gaps between current processes and the desired process.
Challenges for telcos
The biggest challenge in the telecommunication industry, is the need for skilled employees who understand customer experience, and the way operators do things.
What is seen over and over again, specifically with regards to technical companies, is that technical people focus on solving problems, not on solving problems from the customer’s point of view. They move into leadership positions based on their technical skill, not their leadership abilities, and this impacts service.
To boot, technical people in general do not understand human behaviour, so they are known to struggle with communication and are not the right kind of people to create customer experiences, no matter their seniority.
Telcos need to hire skilled people who understand customer service, and also have the ability to relate to technical people.
Another challenge for telecoms companies is that while they may use CEM software, they fail to ask the right questions, and they don’t follow up with actions based on the user feedback. All they focus on is the numbers in order to get the reports to look good.
It takes a skilled person to analyse the feedback and trends, and then create processes that enable the business to make improvements based on what users say.
You want to encourage negative feedback instead of squash it, because it provides a huge amount of value in that when analysed, it will show your business where you are going wrong and you can then make changes to improve.
First steps to improving your telco’s customer experience
The first rule of any business is to retain customers and build a loyal relationship with them, and thereby avoid customer acquisition costs.
But statistics show that more companies focus on customer acquisition instead of customer retention, even though it costs on average, five times more to get a new customer than it does to retain those who are already buying from you.
Added to that, it’s easier to get existing customers to try new products and services than new customers.
The first steps to improving the telecoms customer experience is:
- Hire a knowledgeable person to take responsibility for driving the customer experience.
- Using CEM software, collect information from customers about their experience with your business.
- Analyse the feedback.
- Build processes with the customer in mind.
- Find the right technology to enable created processes and to give you customer insight.
- Train relevant employees.
- Measure the customer experience, use feedback to take action, and then keep measuring to ensure customer satisfaction increases.
Adapt IT | Telecoms offers telcos the technology behind a good customer experience, and it’s been created by a team who understands both customer experience and what the telecoms industry needs to provide an exceptional customer experience in order to retain customers.
For example, both startup and giant telecoms companies use our technology that provides customer insight, which is the foundation of any new customer journey mapping, as well as a customer self-help portal that improves the customer experience.
With companies like Amazon, who focus on and provide exceptional service, right from the first touchpoint to the last, customers expectations have evolved and this is pushing companies to seriously address the customer journey.
Because of this push, customer experience is set to become the top brand differentiator in the next few years. The problem with this is that most companies, and more so the telecom, do not understand it.
It is critical for operators to invest in this area, particularly because of the high amount of competition they already face.
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