How do customers feel after their CEX with you?
I recently lead a project with a major public transport provider to develop a Customer Experience Framework for their capital city commuter service. What struck me was that a railway is a service business just the same as telco is a service business; and there are lessons we can learn.
In many industries, Customer Experience (CEX) is a ‘science’, particularly in service industries. Yet so many companies still get it wrong. Terms such as customer service, customer care, customer management and even customer experience are discussed and debated but the result for the customer is still inconsistent and does not reflect the service provider’s promise or brand statement. The answer is to develop a Customer Experience Framework and make it ‘business as usual’ in order to deliver a deliberate, managed and consistent experience to customers.
Developing a Customer Experience Framework
The success of the rail project can be primarily attributed to the methodical approach taken to the development of the CEX Framework.
We took a five-step approach to building a CEX Framework:
- Customer – know the customer and understand their values, behaviour, needs and expectations. “Customers are no longer just comparing Telcos with other Telcos,” says Siobhan Ryley, Product Marketing Manager, CSG International, “they are comparing service or brand experiences with the likes of Apple or AMEX.” People see what the successful brands are doing and so expect all their service providers to be able to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
- Touch Points – map all customer touch points such as call centres; online channels; social media; apps; sponsorships; bills; advertising etc. Then understand the customer’s need or expectation at each touch point and therefore understand how to turn this information into an addressable business support system requirement.
Customer Experience is a mixture of conscious and subconscious experiences that a customer has when they interact with your brand or service. The way you provide the service; measure the transactions; package the service; the brand colors; the slogans; brand position; type of sponsorships; tone of voice in communications….are all ingredients of customer experience. An OTT provider in the United States recently found that their customers have at least 80 different interactions within just 6 months of signing up. Mapping all of them is essential, and not easy.
- Brand – Portray a clear brand position and be consistent in every medium that you apply it – this means the big stuff such as visual identity and the small stuff, like the tone of voice you use to talk or write to customers. For example, if you are trying to position your brand as the smart choice then you better make sure you have the transparency in your OSS or charging systems to create smart discounts or bundled solutions. Or, if you are appealing to a certain demographic, then make sure your OSS, BSS and BQS systems can handle smart partnering with other complementary providers so that you can give the best possible service experience to your customers.
Example – a 3G provider in the Asia Pacific region who has embedded the culture so that even the solution architects that configure the charging system are asking the question ‘but what will the customer think’ when designing financial limits to impose on customers. Ensuring the people responsible for the billing system appreciate the brand promise, customer experience mantra and company goals means that delivering the right customer experience will be intrinsic even in the way charging features are designed in the BSS.
- Emotions – Know the emotions you want your customers to feel as a result of interacting with your brand. Emotions are a subjective, yet significant, component of creating the customer’s individual experience. So ask questions such as ‘is the experience they have the one we want them to have?’ We all know that gaining a new customer costs more than keeping an existing one, so the aim is to drive positive ‘word of mouth’ – tweet, Facebook or Pinterest – recommendations.
- Goals – Know what your business goals are and how or why they drive a need to create a customer experience. Are you trying to get more people to sign up to your service? Are you trying to build a position in the community? Are you segmenting different product lines and therefore need to tailor the experience to different demographics.
By taking a methodical approach to each of these five steps you should have all the information required to build a Customer Experience Framework. According to Ryley, ‘it should be one that shows transparency in interactions and instills a sense of trust in customers’.
Once you have the answers you need to apply the framework. That means taking a systematic approach to translating the customer needs and expectations into actual requirements – ubiquitous, quick, access to accounts for example – that must be addressed across you’re the whole business and every process.