Customer experience has changed dramatically since the proliferation of digital technology. Consider some day-to-day examples in our lives — we now have self-checkout at grocery stores, ATMs are substituting for bank tellers, online shopping has eliminated the need to make eye contact with the floor sales associate and you can now place your coffee order via a voice command on a smart device. With these changes, the traditional touch points (i.e. face-to-face interactions), which had the greatest influence over customer experience in the past, have shifted. Now, in the digital age, the way in which you satisfy your customer has also had to evolve.
Defining customer experience
Customer experience is a lot more than customer service. It is the sum of all the interactions between a customer and an organization throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. The lifecycle can be viewed in two broad stages:
- Customer acquisition: Generating awareness, nurturing that awareness and creating desire for your product or service;
- Customer development and retention: Customer support, loyalty and advocacy after a purchase has been made.
For there to be a seamless execution of your desired customer experience, organizations have to embed customer experience into internal processes, systems, and structures. As automation and artificial intelligence take over the repetitive, pattern-based work, the differentiators will be those things that robots cannot compete with — creativity and empathy. As we move towards an empathy economy, a company’s differentiation in its customer experience may no longer be just a nice-to-have, but rather a strategic imperative.
Designing a target customer experience
- Step 1: Articulate the customer experience vision. Start by taking a cradle-to-grave approach and define the typical customer journey(s) you envision your customers to go through when experiencing your products or services. In all likelihood, there will be multiple customer journeys, as these will differ based on combinations of your value propositions, customer segments and channels. For example, the customer experience for buying your product in a retail store will differ from a customer making an e-commerce purchase.
- Step 2: Test your current processes and systems against your customer journeys. Be a “mystery shopper” for your own organization — test your existing platforms for the different stages of the customer lifecycle. For example, if you are counting on search engine rankings for customers to discover your business, are you appearing within the first three pages of search results? If you are promising a support agent to contact you within one business day of submitting a customer support enquiry — is this expectation being met?
- Step 3: Address process and systems gaps to match the target CX vision. If you identify gaps in your current processes or systems against the target CX vision, determine which of these to address through enhancements of existing processes or systems and which require the introduction of new capabilities. Create a roadmap of all the changes, and if needed, consider if you need to select new systems/technology to achieve the desired end-state.
Citrin Cooperman is uniquely positioned to advise on and execute transformation projects for companies in the middle market. Our frameworks and methodologies are based on Fortune 500 experience, tailored for the middle market. We understand the value of balancing vision with execution in creating value. Whether you need help with defining your CX vision, selecting the right systems or designing the change journey, we can help. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you on your road to CX success!
Citrin Cooperman is a full-service assurance, tax and advisory firm, with over 15 worldwide locations and 1000-plus employees. We have been proudly serving New Jersey businesses since 1979. To contact the author directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.