Execs In The Know- A Global Network of Customer Experience Professionals

Tag Archives: Customer Journey

Understanding Your Customers: Nothing Beats Time in the Contact Center

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The following is a guest post from Susan Hash, editor of Contact Center Pipeline.

How much time has your executive team spent on the contact center floor? Not simply a quick walk-through, but actually taking the time to plug in with an agent to listen to customer calls? If execs really want to know what a quality customer experience sounds and feels like, spending time in the contact center will allow them to experience what your customers are feeling and thinking about your organization, as well as what frontline customer service staff go through on a daily basis.

In addition to senior executives, encouraging department leaders across the organization to spend time in the center is a great way to provide them with first-hand knowledge of what goes on within this critical touchpoint on the customer journey—and often the only interface a customer will have with an organization.

Some customer-centric organizations make it an essential activity for new leaders. At ING Direct, department leaders spend a month in the contact center jacking in with agents and listening to calls—and even handling customer complaints. They not only develop a better understanding of the frontline agent’s job, they realize how their own processes impact the contact center, and ultimately, the customer experience.

It doesn’t need to be a month-long commitment to have an effect. The contact center leadership team at Unilever found that a well-planned open house could make a significant impact. Various brand teams were invited into the center for an afternoon. The teams were given an overview of the types of information the center collected and how the frontline agents interacted with callers. Each brand team was asked to discuss the new products being released with the frontline agents so that they could offer their suggestions and ideas (an incredibly valuable resource!).

After the open house, contact center leadership followed up with the various departments to reinforce the idea that the center was willing and able to do more to support each area in improving their performance through customized reports and customer data.

Encourage the Entire Organization to Walk in the Customer’s Shoes

At BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the Customer Experience team created a very unique activity designed to help non-customer-facing functions develop a better understanding of the customer service advocate’s role, and to understand how what they do impacts what happens in the contact center. They set up a call-listening room next to the employee cafeteria. Continue reading

Customer Communities: A Starring Role in the Customer Journey

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The following is a guest post from Susan Hash, Editor of Contact Center Pipeline.

Digital marketing experts say that it’s important to be in all the places where your customers are searching for information about your products and services. However, if your goal is to drive engagement and retention, cultivating your own branded community can offer more value for both customers and the business.

Online communities have been in use by the high-tech industry for decades—going as far back as 1980 with CompuServe’s CB Simulator online chat service. While, in the past, the primary goals for launching customer communities focused on marketing or reducing costs, today’s communities are closely linked to an organization’s business drivers. Vanessa DiMauro sees them becoming an essential function for businesses in the next few years.

“Up to 60% of inquiries and business decisions are made without first contacting the organization,” she says. “Customers use search, they Google, they talk to peers, they visit websites. Communities have an opportunity to play a starring role in the beginning of the customer journey. What is better from a prospective customer’s viewpoint than seeing how an organization interacts with its customers?” DiMauro is the CEO of Leader Networks (www.leadernetworks.com), a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and online community building.

Getting Started: Build on a Solid Foundation

As with any customer-centric initiative, launching an online community requires vision, planning, goals, resources and strategy. The following are a few key elements to create a strong foundation for long-term success.

Executive buy-in. Make sure that you have the support of the right internal stakeholders, says DiMauro. “A community is not an island. It not only touches customer support, marketing and product innovation, it reaches across all lines of the business,” she says. “You need crossfunctional buy-in—everyone has to have a little stake in the game.”

Clear success metrics that are aligned with business objectives. “Communities need to either accelerate a business process or make something possible that wasn’t easily possible in the past,” DiMauro explains. “When launching a community, you can ensure a positive outcome by aligning it around one or two meaningful business needs with very clear measures and metrics for success.” Once you’ve hit those objectives and developed best practices around those requirements, you can then scale to address other business needs, she adds.

A platform that integrates with other channel management tools. If customer service is one of your objectives, focus on delivering a seamless cross-channel experience, advises Joe Cothrel, chief community officer at Lithium Technologies (www.lithium.com). “You need a platform that can support your customers and that plays in a friendly way with other enterprise infrastructures,” he says.

A crossfunctional team. The size and makeup of your team will depend on how much you want to do in your community. Most community teams start with a relatively small team, Cothrel says, and then the team will scale as the community expands its functionality. For example, team expertise may include customer support, product managers, R&D, a content manager, analysts, etc.

An experienced community manager. Look for someone with a strong background in community facilitation or management. Keep in mind that there is a difference between social media professionals and community professionals. “Community professionals have a set of disciplines, best practices, frameworks and know-how to scale and align their work to the organization’s needs,” DiMauro says. “Good community professionals are able to ask the types of open-ended questions that help the subject-matter experts articulate why they’re doing something—and do it in a way that helps new customers and learners. When you introduce too much expertise into a community from the company, they make assumptions and use industry lingo. It can run the risk of becoming a dialog of experts to experts without taking into account all levels of education and support.”

Community guidelines and rules of engagement. Create a set of guidelines and rules that customers must observe, such as be respectful, don’t spam, respect other people’s privacy, don’t harass, etc. Make sure that customers agree to the guidelines when they join. “You also will need processes on the back end for what to do when a customer breaks the rules,” says Cothrel. “Successful communities think through all types of scenarios before launch.”

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Three Steps for Customer Service Excellence

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The following is a guest blog by Jaime Bailey, Vice President Marketing at Virtual Hold Technology (VHT). For more information on VHT, please visit their website

Putting the customer first is nothing new, but service excellence is becoming more competitive than ever before. While reducing hold time for incoming calls was once a key differentiator for brands, today the growth of digital channels means every touchpoint between consumer and brand is a make or break opportunity.

A recent McKinsey Quarterly, The CEO guide to customer experience, focuses on the importance of molding customer interactions and providing high-level insight to improve customer interactions. But a good piece of advice needs specifics. So we’re taking an in-depth look at three tips for how a brand can start growing loyalty.

Simplify the move from touchpoints to a journey

According to McKinsey, customer loyalty isn’t created through individual touchpoints, but “the complete, end-to-end experience customers have with a company from their perspective.” We agree. It’s all about the customer journey!

Why? Well many times, touchpoints are the responsibility of a business silo. The focus is on providing the best experience on that channel, without communicating with the other channels.

If a consumer starts on social media and then jumps to a phone, they have to start the interaction from the beginning. After all, when a brand’s channels aren’t connected, the customer’s information doesn’t travel with them. So even when satisfaction with individual touchpoints is high, the overall satisfaction can be quite low. This is because the customer perceives a company as not centered on their interests or concerns.

Knowing key pieces of information about the customer helps transform disparate touchpoints into a connected journey. As outlined in our e-book, Navigating the Customer Journey, the following four questions are central to the transformation.

– How long have they been a customer?

– Through which channels has the customer navigated?

– What are the customers’ previous brand interactions?

– Is there additional contact information to piece a customer identity together?

The move from individual touchpoints to a customer journey is an important one. When responding to each question, including data and customer commentary will enhance your ability to navigate the customer journey seamlessly and effectively. Continue reading

10 signs your CX program needs to work harder

The following is a guest blog by Simon Herd, Director of Design Research at Sutherland Labs. For more information on Sutherland Labs, visit http://www.sutherlandlabs.com/

Many organizations have set up customer experience (CX) programs in the last 5 years, and they’re to be congratulated as it’s an important step to becoming an experience-led business.

CX programs don’t realize ultimate impact immediately, they have to prove themselves and earn trust within the organization and become true masters of their domain. Furthermore, the massive demand for talented CX professionals means that it can be difficult to get the right capability up and running quickly.

But once you have your team in place, how do you make sure resources are being directed in the right areas? Here are a few pointers for executives to watch for to help prioritize where CX capabilities should be directed to increase impact.

1. NPS/CSat scores but don’t have a clear sense of the why

NPS, CSat and other metrics are great as a warning signal of troubled waters, but they are limited in terms of understanding the ‘why’ – what’s motivating a positive or negative score? Engaging directly with customers to get to this ‘why’ – how people use services, when and where – gives context not only to negative scores, but also allows organizations to understand and build on positive experiences. Complementary activities such as social media analysis can add weight, but closer collaboration between CX and analytics teams is key to realizing a holistic view of the entire customer experience.

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2. Journey maps that have been created without direct user engagement

Customer journey maps are an invaluable tool for aligning vision and road mapping the ideal customer experience. However, maps created only involving internal stakeholders, or using desk research and analytics can miss key insights and opportunities. If your organization has created maps in this way, they may not be in line with customer needs or priorities and there’s a need to get up close and personal with your customers.

3. Organization has too many customer journeys

If you have a journey map for your web experience, a journey map for your mobile experience, and yet another for your in-store experience you may be missing the bigger picture. It’s a common problem with internally focused CX teams and can be a symptom of being product (inside-out) rather than customer (outside-in) focused. Joining up all your customer experiences will help you frame your customer experience strategy and prioritize for impact.

4. Customer journeys are outdated

Remember that journey maps have a limited life span. Just as people’s behavior changes, and new products and services disrupt the competitive landscape, so too will your customer journeys. Journey maps don’t need to be constantly updated but setting realistic evaluation points will help capture the true current experience, and allow you to reframe and rethink your CX strategy.

5. CX teams lack staff who have a background in human behavior

New teams may be formed of members from product manager and marketing-related roles. These are great skills to have represented, but it’s crucial to go beyond this. The skills and mindset to understand human needs, motivations and behaviors are critical to identifying and prioritizing which design changes will have the biggest impact. For example, understanding ‘Motivation’ may not sound like it has a big business benefit, but motivation actually dictates how far customers will persist with a sub optimal product. Continue reading

Execs In The Know and COPC Inc. to Host 2016 CXMB Series Workshop in Toronto

Leaders Learning From Leaders in Exclusive, One-Day Event Focused on Customer Journey Insights

PHOENIX, AZ. October 24, 2016 – Following the recent release of the 2016 Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) Series Consumer Edition, Execs In The Know and COPC Inc. are headed to Toronto, Canada on November 29th for a CXMB Series Workshop. This exclusive, one-day event presents an excellent opportunity for customer experience professionals to gather and share their challenges, successes and insights, while also making lasting connections in their local area.

As with past CXMB Series Workshop events, great attention will be paid to the results of the 2016 CXMB Series Consumer Edition, which focuses on customer journey insights from the consumer’s perspective. The Consumer Edition of the CXMB Series brings a host of new content in 2016, while a number of topics from last year’s report are clarified and expanded further, including the consumer’s preference for live interactions over automated ones and the consumer’s perception of the multi-channel journey.

This year’s Consumer Edition report also features two new sections: The Millennial Consumer and The Alternative Channel Customer Journey.

A few highlights from the findings:

– While much work remains to be done, there was a measurable improvement in the consumer’s overall impression of the customer care they received in 2016

– While the preference for Traditional Care remains strong, there was a slight pullback in 2016

– Consumer preference for human assistance over automated/self-help systems remains strong

If you’re interested in attending this event, visit the CXMB Series Workshop section of the Execs In The Know website at execsintheknow.com/events/cxmb-workshop, or contact Chad McDaniel via email or phone at chad@execsintheknow.com or 623.234.2843.

If you can’t attend the event, but are interested in obtaining the CXMB Series 2016 Consumer Report, visit execsintheknow.com/cxmbseries/2016-consumer-edition/.

About Execs In The Know

For over 15 years, Execs In The Know has built a reputation of excellence in the Customer Management Industry and a worldwide community of over 50,000 Customer Experience Professionals. Execs In The Know connects people to engaging industry content, thought leadership, current trends, peer-to-peer collaboration, networking, and industry employment opportunities. Examples of this can be seen at their Customer Response Summit events, roadshows, webinars, workshops, Blog Talk Radio segments, Industry Benchmarking Series, blogs, thought papers, and social communities.

To learn more about Execs In The Know, visit www.execsintheknow.com. For more information on their Customer Management Recruitment Solutions, visit www.justcareers.com.

 About COPC Inc.

COPC Inc. is an innovative global leader that empowers organizations to manage complex customer journeys.  The company created the COPC Customer Experience (CX) Standard and provides consulting, training and certification for operations that support the customer experience. Founded in 1996, COPC Inc. began by helping call centers improve their performance.  Today, the company works with leading brands worldwide to optimize key customer touchpoints and deliver a seamless experience across channels. COPC Inc. is privately held with headquarters in Winter Park, FL, U.S. and has operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, India and Japan.

For more information, please visit www.copc.com.

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Alyssa Pitura
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info@execsintheknow.com
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How Customer Experience Is Changing

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The following is a guest blog written by Amit Shankardass, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Teleperformance. Learn more about Teleperformance by visiting their website.

Sometimes the world moves so quickly that it is difficult to see which changes and developments are really important. Progress just happens and we often forget how things used to happen, even in the recent past. How customers relate to brands is just one example of an area of business that is moving faster now more than ever, especially in terms of how the customer experience shapes how customers feel about brands and companies.

In order to predict the future, it’s impossible to just extrapolate from the past, but it’s possible to step back from the rapid change, to take stock and evaluate just what has changed. With a deeper understanding of what has changed the customer experience and why, it is easier to understand how customer interactions may change in the coming years.

The industry analyst Gartner recently published a research paper suggesting that 89% of the companies surveyed are now competing with the customer experience as a key differentiator. Managing the customer experience has become the single most important task for executive managers, now with a higher priority than other traditional areas of focus, such as reducing costs or increasing revenue.

Why has this happened?

The simple answer to this is that the way customers communicate has changed in a short period of time. Two specific innovations arguably made the largest impact on mobile Internet access:  (1) launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and (2) rise in popularity of online social networks. Customers are now comfortable publishing their views on products and services for the consumption of friends, family members, and followers, and they have immediate access to prices, reviews, and the ability to make purchases 24/7.

How did this happen?
Continue reading

Get Your Chat Fitness On

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The following is a guest blog from Leslie Joseph, Senior Director, Product Marketing at [24]7. For more information about [24]7, visit http://www.247-inc.com/.

When was the last time you asked yourself “How can I improve the performance of my chat program?” No matter how optimized your chat program is, there is always room for improvement. As with any fitness program, simply following generic rules will only get you half way there. A customized workout for your chat is necessary to get the highest gains in performance. So how does one find the right routines, tools, and methods for getting chat-fit? The answer to all of these questions is in your data. It’s not just about what data you use, but how you use the data to make the biggest improvements.

Data is key. You don’t need to be a 1000-agent chat program before you start thinking about data. In fact, chances are, if you start thinking about data only after hitting a 1000, or even just 100, you probably have some catching-up to do. Smart execs can optimize even a fledgling chat program based on insights that can be gleaned from mashing up chat logs and reports with web data. But that’s just scratching the surface. Once you’re ready, chat transcript mining is the next frontier. Chat transcripts are a goldmine, rich with nuggets of insight that the performance-focused exec can arm to implement actions on the floor that enhance not just the efficiency, but also the effectiveness of agents. Chat mining is also a way to unlock other insights into customer sentiment and issue drivers that can lead to lower out-of-scopes, better customer engagement, smarter targeting, reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction. These insights, either on their own or paired with predictive models, can trim and tone your chat program to top efficiency.

But it doesn’t end there. The most important part is getting started. Once you start building momentum and making traction, you will soon realize that data-driven improvements will put even the best performance enhancing drugs to shame.

Join me on July 19, 2016 at 1:00 P.M. EDT as I discuss how some of the most successful companies use data and analytics to turn their chat channel into lean, mean performance machines. Register today! 

How Data & Analytics Can Turbocharge Your Chat Program Webinar

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PHOENIX, AZ. July 8, 2016 – Chad McDaniel, President of Execs In The Know, and Leslie Joseph, Senior Director, Product Marketing at [24]7, will be hosting the webinar “How Data and Analytics can Turbocharge Your Chat Program.” The action packed training session will take place on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 from 1:00-2:00 ET.

In this hour long session, Leslie Joseph will provide tangible tips on how to use web data, customer journey analytics, and text mined insights to improve chat results and become an engagement fitness expert. Three levels of chat fitness will be explored:

– Beginner: How to get started by utilizing basic operational analytics

– Intermediate: Ramp up your efforts by working text mining and predictive models into your routine.

– Expert: Progress to the next level through platform analytics that can transform the chat experience for visitors and drive maximum business outcomes.

“Findings from our recent CXMB Corporate Report show that online chat has undergone a notable year-over-year increase, growing by 27% among companies offering one or more Interactive Care solutions,” said Chad McDaniel. “This webinar will feature real, actionable tips that will be applicable to chat providers at every stage of the game.”

To register for the webinar visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5098092745822594819. Continue reading

The Power of Personalizing Your Customer Experience

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The following is a guest blog written by Matt Wheatley, VP of Customer Experience at 24-7 Intouch. Learn more about 24-7 Intouch by visiting their website.

It is no surprise that an improvement in customer experience can easily translate into hundreds of millions of dollars of incremental annual revenues. One key component to making a lasting, positive impression on your customers is through the personalization of the consumer experience.

Customers are constantly contacted by brands in the hopes of gathering as much information as they possibly can to build out customer profiles. The more effectively a company uses customer information to understand and acknowledge both the differences and similarities, the easier it will be to provide a truly personalized, highly customized experience through relevant channels in ways that drive stronger, more profitable relationships. However, if nothing is done with this data, all you’re left with is an annoyed customer and a detached experience.

Here are a few ways you can drive immediate engagement and better serve your customers by giving them exactly what they want, when and how they want it: Continue reading

The Missing Link Retailers Need to Turn a Cost Into a Revenue Generator

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The following is a guest blog written by Edward Kowalski, Associate Vice President, Retail Marketing, at Sutherland Global Services. To download a free white paper on the topic, visit  http://www.sutherlandglobal.com/Retail/WP-20160104/Default.aspx

Most retailers are missing a key opportunity. It’s a way to take what’s now an expense and instead use it to build awareness, create loyalty and even grow profits.

It’s customer care.

Companies should combine customer care with customer experience, big data and predictive analytics. It’s a transformation that requires retailers to break down silos and start sharing information that’s widely available.

Consider the constant signals customers provide, based on multiple experiences, with brands across multiple touchpoints. Retail marketers use the information to develop a customer journey that’s seamless, relevant, authentic and omni-channel.

But it’s a missing link that needs to be shared with the customer care team.

Retailers should develop a new system that arms customer care agents with intelligence that spurs personalized engagements. This helps resolve complaints, increase Net Promoter Scores, improve customer satisfaction, create loyalty and, yes, generate revenue.

Here are the steps we recommend: Continue reading