Customer Experience Competencies

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In June 2010, Bruce Temkin (customer experience thought leader and Managing Partner of Temkin Group) released an insightful report called "The Four Customer Experience Core Competencies."  Mr. Temkin acknowledges that while most companies WANT to be "customer experience" leaders, few understand HOW to make meaningful changes required for sustained differentiation.

The report identifies the four (as you might have guessed from the title) competencies that organizations need to develop in order to truly succeed with "customer experience differentiation".  These competencies include:

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Customer Experience Management

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Over the last five or ten years, organizations have started to take the concept of Customer Experience Management more and more seriously.  So what exactly is "Customer Experience Management"?  Well … Wikipedia (the ultimate authority in the packaging and distribution of information) defines customer experience as, "the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier."  Your customer has an experience with your organization each and every time they interact (either directly or indirectly) with you.  Those individual experiences of seeing an advertisement, handling the product package from the store shelf, using the product, dialing into the call center for service or support, etc., etc., all roll up into THE collective Customer Experience.

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Crash Course on “Customer Experience” Metrics

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So if "customer experience" is defined as the sum total of all the interactions that a customer has with the organization, how do you go about measuring it?  As a customer you have an emotional gauge that reflects your sentiment toward a product / service (and toward the organization behind it), but it's difficult to put a meaningful, actionable number to it.  My personal "customer experience" would, for example, reflect finding exceptional marketing collateral, but enduring a pushy sales person … then loving the product for some months, and then struggling to get a problem resolved through the call center.  In this example, my overall customer experience reflects a mix of both positive and negative interactions with the business.  How does the business put a number to it?

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Customer Service: Is There Such a Thing as “Too Much”?

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When trying to win over your customers, have far should you go? Every business wants to deliver an experience that keeps the best customers coming back time and time again. Some companies have chosen to incorporate premium customer service into their business strategy as a key differentiator (think Nordstrom, Zappos, and Ritz-Carlton), and "legendary" customer service typically commands a premium price.

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Hug an Agent

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Have you given your agents a hug lately?  These folks have a challenging job.  Using the common military analogy, the call center agent constitutes the "front line" of the business.  When a customer is unhappy, they ring the call center.  When the customer has a question, they ring the call center.  When the customer needs to give you money, they ring the call center.  They represent your company every time they pick up the phone. 

Unfortunately (still running with the "soldier" analogy), some businesses operate on a war of attrition.  They burn the agents out and just assume new ranks will fill the gaps.  Sometimes the organization simply hasn't bothered to outfit the agent with the right training or equipment to be successful.

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Text Messaging and the Contact Center

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Do you have a mobile phone?  If I play the odds, it's a pretty safe bet that you do.  The CTIA (who has  a particular interest in mobile phone usage) indicates that 91% of the U.S. population has at least one mobile device.  Furthermore, nearly 23% of Americans have "cut the cord" completely and don't even have a traditional landline. 

The rapid adoption of the mobile phones introduces some intriguing ways to interact with your customers.  The most ubiquitous of mobile phone features is text messaging: short message service … SMS … those tiny little messages we send to one another using just 160 characters.  Of the 285 million mobile phones currently subscribed, over 96% of them are capable. 

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Great Service Through Self-Service? Well … Maybe …

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Would you rather talk to a live agent or take matters into your own hands through self-service?  As with most things in life, the correct answer is "it depends".  It depends on the nature of the transaction (eg, sales, customer service, technical support, etc.)  It depends on the accessibility / usability / availability of self-serve options.  It depends on your personality.  It depends on your technical proficiency.  And frankly, a lot of it depends on your age.

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Email Contacts and Your Agents

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In the ideal world, a "customer service" agent would perform admirably whether the customer chooses to interact over the phone or through email.  This scenario is easier to manage and to staff, and it often contributes to improved efficiencies as agents can be more thoroughly utilized.  The reality, however, is that those agents best suited to help customers over the phone aren't always best suited to help agents via email (and vice versa).

 

One great agent may only type 30 words per minute, making him less effective for email responses. 

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And a Few More Musings on Chat

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Web chat tends to be far more preferred by the younger generation than the older generation (and it seems "younger" is about 25 years old :)).  Of course it doesn't have to be this way, both customers and agents are likely to fall closely to this demographic.  The multi-media contact center needs to evaluate how to staff the various queues.  Your staffing strategy will depend on how much volume is expected per unique channel.  If there is enough volume to justify dedicated chat agents, you may be better off hiring and staffing chat as a specialty.  Otherwise you'll have to be careful to put agents into the chat queue who are comfortable working in that channel.

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Musings on Chat

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Web chat is a great channel alternative to offer your customers.  If your "callers" happen to be in front of their computer and they are reasonable typists, web chat can be a very efficient way to complete a transaction.  Depending on the chat technology, you can even lock down chat access behind a secure website  to make it a very safe way to exchange potentially sensitive information.

The contact center can possibly gain efficiencies by enabling agents to handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously. 

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