The biggest and most successful brands have many things in common, not least of which is an amazing customer experience from start to finish. Whilst companies certainly don't have to be Apple to get it right, it is critical that you have the right people around you. In this blog, we explore the changing world of customer experience and how to ensure you have the right talent in place to meet changing customer expectations.
With an increasing number of people online and more consumer touch points than ever before, it's never been easier to publicly broadcast an opinion - whether that be positive or negative. Thankfully, it is also easier to find out what people think.
However, with that, comes the need for specialist talent to help you design a seamless customer experience. It might be obvious, but the first step is being authentic. People don't want robotic or scripted responses, they want a human feel to all of their transactions. If customers sense a lack of integrity in your service, that will only translate to the rest of your brand.
Before we delve into the talent that’s needed, let’s take a look at what companies are doing about it. Today’s customers expect prompt responses which is why businesses also need to develop systems for responding to customer social media queries and concerns. Southwest Airlines took a different approach, streamlining their social media presence to a single Twitter handle. By empowering all employees to take ownership of social media interactions, this resulted in reducing response time to 10-15 minutes in an industry where timeliness is critical.
Companies can also use their data to map the customer journey and finding out what is and isn't working within it. Take Zalora, a Singaporean online fashion store, who discovered a specific issue with customers that lived in apartments. If these customers weren't home when packages were delivered, they would have to wait in line at the post office. This was having a clear negative impact on their customer experience, so Zalora created an innovative new offering to streamline the process. After reaching out to 7-11, an incredibly popular chain of convenience stores in Singapore, they negotiated a deal that allowed Zalora customers to pick up their packages from these stores instead. This provided the perfect solution as 7-11 stores in Singapore are about as frequent as your local dairy in New Zealand.
What this approach reflects is how important it is that companies know their customers inside and out. Do you know exactly how they want to use your services and what they expect from their interactions with you? Without regularly putting yourself in the shoes of your customers it's easy to miss things. Australian telco, Telstra, discovered this very issue after finding many of their customers were using certain features but also struggling to find them on their website. This might sound like a simple solution, but they created large buttons with clear labels such as 'Pay My Bill', 'Moving Home' and 'My Prepaid' to ensure that customers could find exactly what they needed without having to search through pages upon pages.
Transforming to Improve Customer Experience
To implement such changes effectively, having the right people is critical. Although, to support customer interactions and enhance their experience, it demands a new breed of talent. For example, UX Designers are and will be required to help transform every touchpoint of a user’s experience. On top of that, roles dedicated to the customer experience process such as Customer Experience Managers or Heads of Customer Experience are necessary to facilitate ongoing progression. There are countless opportunities to improve customer experience in what once was an area that didn't exist – you just need the people to get you moving in the right direction.
Because Customer Experience professionals are tasked with changing the way things have always been done, there are certain skills that will differ from traditional marketers. Whilst they’ll still need that creative spark, being able to make sense of customer data (and turn that into actionable insights) will be an important trait as well. Customer empathy and intuition will also be critical – after all, a lot of the projects are focused on improving the customer journey through change, so you need to put yourselves in their shoes!
As we touched on before, customer expectations have been changing, largely due to technology. To keep up with these new trends, companies don’t just need to be efficient, consistent and personal with their interactions, but able to change through initiatives driven by customer needs or frustrations.
As discussed earlier, a fully mapped customer journey allows companies to see what else can be used to improve CX. In the words of Steve Jobs, "You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around." This is another poignant reminder of the importance of letting customer experience drive change. The IT sector is changing, as well as many others, so the focus on improving CX is only going to become more prominent, especially with the prevalence of AI and automation.
As the world becomes increasingly connected, the importance of customer experience cannot be overstated. After all, a positive customer experience is much more likely to lead to happier, long-term customers. However, customer experience is often approached without fully understanding customer behaviours and expectations. Rather than ask customers to change their behaviours to fit your model and organisation, it’s important to be mapping processes according to their expectations. Whilst this is easier said than done, it starts with having the right people in place and putting yourself in the shoes of customers to drive CX projects.
Moving forward, the role of CX will only increase, and with that comes demand for new talent. If you’re looking for support in the recruitment of digital experts, get in touch with Carren Walker Raos (Auckland) or Sandy Eaton (Wellington) today.