Evaluate Your Current Customer Experience

In my last blog post, I introduced four steps to creating a branded customer experience. This post walks you through the first step: evaluating your current customer experience.

First take a long, hard look at the current landscape through which your customers now travel. This exercise will help you understand more about your company and your customers, and it should clarify what your customers value and what makes them feel valued when they interact with your organization.

Ask yourself these questions about your company:

  • What expectation does your brand set in terms of a service experience?
  • What commitments does it make to customers?
  • How important are these commitments to customers and how often do you meet them?
  • Does your brand attract profitable customers?
  • How often do you achieve customers' desired call or contact outcomes?
  • How do you know?

Consider these questions about your customers:

  • What do you know about your customers?
  • Do you know what your customers value?
  • How would they describe this?
  • What characterizes your long-standing customers?
  • What do they say?
  • What attracted them to you?
  • Do they believe you deliver on your promises?
  • How do you know?

Next, evaluate your current customer experience to determine if your service is random (the customer experience is left to chance) when it should be intentional (customer experience is meticulously planned). You can gauge your current experience and move your enterprise toward the branded customer experience by focusing on five key elements: philosophy, people, process, technology and measurement.

The type of customer experience you provide today will be most obvious in the operational philosophy of your contact center. If the contact center makes little or no effort to proactively determine the right customer outcomes, then your customer experience is random. Are decisions based on customers, call outcomes and adding value? Does management look at your business from the top-down, or is the perspective from the outside in, as it should be for a branded experience?

You'll find additional clues when you evaluate your people - the structure of your contact center staff and how they interact. In a random environment, the contact center is based on a 'management and employees' culture, instead of a 'coaching and teams' culture. In a random environment, you'll find the processes of the contact center focus on call handling, not customer handling.

In addition, the design of processes will be based on functional specialization, when they should be based on customer demand, value and workflow.

Technology contributing to a random customer experience is disjointed or inconsistent. Contact channels are not integrated, and as a result, vital information flow is limited or nonexistent.

The final telling parameter can be found in the measurement metrics that provide feedback on your current customer experiences. If your contact center's measurement is based on budget, volumes and productivity, you'll probably find there is limited information available on customer behavior and experience. Many contact centers measure and monitor qualitative factors affecting their performance, such as calls answered, calls abandoned, etc. However, none of these measures matter to the customer. Measurement that supports a branded customer experience should be related to call outcomes and adding value; in other words, measurement metrics should be designed around the outcomes that customers are trying to achieve when they contact your organization.

After reviewing the five key indicators, you should have a clear picture of the customer experience your company is currently delivering. If you find that you're providing your customers with a random experience, you are not alone. Many companies are in the same position - their customers receive a different experience every time they make contact. Acknowledging this is the first step toward making a change.