What is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer experience (CX) is defined as the short- and long-term interactions and relationship between a company and its customers. The customer experience journey can include how a customer interacts with a company’s employees, facilities, and marketing, in both the real and digital worlds.
Tactical approaches to quality tend to focus on delivering products and services according to specifications. However, organizations can often increase the payoff of their efforts when they look beyond meeting specifications and seek to understand and improve the total customer experience.
Enhancing the customer experience means working toward several goals beyond basic delivery of products and services:
- Delivering the right product or service for the customer's needs
- Selling the product or service honestly
- Ensuring ease of use and preventing failures
- Making it easy for customers to do business with the organization
- Creating an emotional connection and providing added value when appropriate
Key Aspects of Providing a Great Customer Experience
Understanding the full range of causes of customer dissatisfaction is an important first step in enhancing the customer experience. The most common causes of dissatisfaction include:
- Organizations: Through poorly designed products that fail to meet expectations, unclear or ineffective sales and marketing messages, and faulty manufacturing and delivery processes that result in reduced usability and performance
- Employees: Through failure to follow established processes, projecting a negative or unhelpful attitude, lack of empowerment and flexibility to address issues, and lack of proper training
- Customers: Themselves, through incorrect expectations, failure to read instructions, and user error
Organizations also need to establish an effective voice of the customer (VOC) process. Customer surveys, customer contact data, internal operations processes and quality data, and employee input are all sources of VOC information that can be used to quantify the cost of not addressing customer experience issues.
Total View of the Customer Experience
Customer experience also requires dedicating the right resources, in terms of both technology and people, and deploying them strategically. Technologies that can enhance customer experience efforts include:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This can be used proactively if it is linked to operational data showing transactions, status, and failures
- An easy-to-navigate website
- Speech/text analytics
- Email/chat/texting driven by the CRM
- Social media and online communities to educate customers, invite feedback, provide support, and encourage engagement with the brand and organization
Additionally, organizations may find that transforming more traditional quality improvement departments into customer quality groups can help mobilize staff. Some organizations are also creating job roles such as the Chief Customer Officer to provide customer experience management leadership.
The Chief Customer Officer (CCO/CXO)
The seven specific functions of the chief customer officer are:
- Oversee mapping and analysis of all customer-touching processes
- Gather unified VOC data
- Facilitate identification of key problems, pain points, and opportunities for value-adds
- Create the economic imperative for action; act as an internal consultant
- Delegate whom should take the lead in addressing problems
- Measure progress in addressing issues
- Act as customer advocate to upper management
Case Studies: The Benefits of Focusing on Customer Experience
Focusing on customer experience can have a great impact across an organization. Improved customer retention can lead to higher margins and lower costs. Marketing and communications teams often find their jobs easier to do because of improved brand reputation. Operations teams ultimately have less rework to perform, and those in quality and product development roles can spend more time working on innovations and less time on warranty claims. Happier staff and happier customers become part of a cycle that continually gains momentum.
The following case studies provide a closer look at just some of the results organizations have achieved when they focus on the customer experience.
Don’t Lose Patients (Quality Progress)
Building Customer Satisfaction With Quality (Quality Progress)
Doctors, Nurses Overcome Workplace Hierarchies to Improve Patient Experience Scores in Phoenix ER
Six Sigma—at a Bank? (PDF)
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