How to Make or Break Your Customer Experience

by Colin Shaw on October 28, 2014

All the little parts along the way in your experience are what make a Customer experience Customer-Centric. Putting the Customer first in everything you do applies to every part of your organization, from the way you greet them to the way you bill them.

One little part that many organizations don’t consider in this process is the systems you use to do business. Overlook this, however, and you are not likely to end up with the Customer focus you seek. This post is the second in a series of nine posts looking at the different parts of the organization contributing to Customer Centricity. Our focus today: Systems.

We use an assessment for our clients calledNaive to Natural that looks at each organization and how they focus on the Customer. The four stages are Naïve, Transactional, Enlightened, and Natural. Naïve companies are the least customer-focused and Natural companies are the most customer-focused.

Why Systems Matter to Your Customers

When I am talking about IT systems, I am talking about how your organization operates. These choices affect the Customer Experience. If your system dictates certain ways of doing things, your choice affects how the Customer feels about your organization.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say your IT system requires getting your email address for every customer to access the details of the account. When you ask the customer for this, they might think, “Why do they need this information? How are they going to use it? Will I get lots of spam mails? Can I trust them with this? ” Another example might be an automated call response system that greets incoming calls. Most Customers prefer to talk to people, not recordings. Especially when you consider how they might be feeling right before they make a call. When you are frustrated, stressed, and upset, how do you feel about entering your account number followed by the pound sign? Well, so do your Customers!

Three Examples Where Systems Need to Be Customer-Focused

Systems can clearly make or break your Customer Experience. There are four common Systems areas that apply to this concept: Technology, Call Routing and Answering Customer Identification, and Mobility. Let’s take a closer look at each and what makes them have a Customer Focus.

Area #1: Technology

When there is technology deployed in a Naïve or Transactional organization, they are doing so to get the product to market as quickly as possible with fewer costs. Transactional companies might also have a motive to improve the productivity, by tracking stats like how many calls are answered and the average call time per Customer. In many cases, they will also use a Call Center script. But what Enlightened and Natural Customers know is that scripts sound like scripts, and it takes the time it takes to resolve the issue in a call. Furthermore, the deployment of technology isn’t about productivity or reducing costs for the company, although they think that is important. Instead, they focus on deploying technology to improve the experience for the Customer.

Conclusion: While technology deployment that improves operations, productivity and costs are important to all organizations, only deployments that improve Customer Experience are prioritized.

Area 2: Call Routing and Answering

Naïve and Transactions companies like to transfer a call, or tell you how important you are while you wait to be answered…sometimes for a long time. You wait because you are “service” call, and all the agents are busy with “sales” calls. Enlightened companies typically minimize this nonsense and employ a mix of live operators and call menus to get you to the right place. Natural companies, in this case specifically, stand alone in that a person answers your call and works with you until your issue is resolved. They might even encourage the use of Skype! I feel that in today’s age of multi-channel options for Customer “calls” it is important to note that call routing and answering applies to all channels, whether there is a call or not. The idea is that personal exchanges and connections are encouraged, whether it’s through the phone, an SMS exchange, Email or Chat.

Conclusion: Transferring calls, putting people on hold, and forcing them through call menus is frustrating and bad for the overall experience. Customer-focused requires an actual focus.

Area 3: Customer Identification

Naïve and transactional companies want to know your numbers, first and foremost. A transactional company will want to know your name. But a natural company knows who you are as soon as you call.

Conclusion: Numbers are not a Customer. Names are, and knowing it immediately feels way more personal to most people.

Area 4: Mobile

Mobility is now key. The ability to access accounts and organization’s services on your mobile from anywhere is key. Naive and transactional companies still think they can get away without doing anything for a mobile platform. Enlightened and Natural companies have embraced this change and are leading the way.

Conclusion: Customers want it, whether you want to do it or not. Since mobility is no longer considered an optional upgrade, Customer-centric companies understand that mobile access and usability is a key business strategy.

Systems are a critical part of Customer Experience because they are the actions in your experience. If you have a convoluted and operationally-focused system in place, it is likely to discount the importance of how this affects the Customer. Then, no matter how personable and cheerful your people are, or your strategy was, the experience is still bad.

What is the focus of the systems in your organization?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

To learn more about Beyond Philosophy’s Naïve to Natural Model, please register for our Naïve to Natural Certification beginning February 2, 2015.

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author offour best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawHow to Make or Break Your Customer Experience