Educational articles by ECXO.org
You’ll know that customer experience is a critical aspect of your business. It’s your most powerful competitive tool. You’ll also probably know that the most successful companies go beyond offering quality products and services, and competitive prices, to design experiences that differentiate their brand and create emotional connections with customers. Everything they do is built around their customers. In other words, they are truly customer-centric. Businesses with a customer focus are relentless in finding new ways to create value. They know that CX maturity is not an end game.
But, as we discussed in a recent post, there is still work to do in Europe to improve CX maturity and transition to customer-centric models. Some countries have barely started or are still in the early stages of development. Others are more advanced in adopting, implementing and optimising strategies. And some countries are at risk of falling behind other European nations – and the rest of the world.
Before we continue, there’s a good definition from Gartner on what is meant by customer centricity: ‘Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.’
And being able to organise around your customers pays. Research by McKinsey discovered that companies that get organised and manage CX can realise a 20% improvement in customer satisfaction, a 15% hike in sales conversion, a 30% reduction in the cost to serve and a 30% increase in employee engagement.
The route to customer centricity – start where you are
To implement a successful customer experience programme or transformation, start where you are. You must first have a clear understanding of your current level of CX maturity in terms of your CX,your products and services design. This understanding will help you identify gaps and opportunities for improvement and develop a roadmap for transformation.
Using a CX maturity model
One way to assess your CX maturity is by using a maturity model. The model is a framework that helps companies evaluate their current state of customer experience management and identify areas for improvement. While there isn’t one model to use, there is a consensus on the types of stages that businesses go through. There are many models including Forrester’s CX Maturity Model, for example. This is a five-level model that ranges from ad-hoc to transformational. The model assesses a company’s maturity in six key areas: customer understanding, measurement, governance, strategy, design, and culture.
Whether you’re just starting out, or you want to evaluate progress, CX professionals tend to purchase a model from a consulting firm or research organisation or develop one internally. If you choose to develop one in-house, seek input from various stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners, to ensure that the model is comprehensive and accurate.
Where should you do next?
Once you have assessed your company’s current state of customer experience management, you can identify areas for improvement and develop a roadmap for transformation. This plan should outline the steps and activities required to move your company from its current state to the next phase – all the while becoming more customer-centric.
And there is the big caveat here …
Assessing your CX maturity is one thing. You’ll also need to evaluate your ability to adapt and change behaviour. A successful customer experience program requires a culture that is customer-centric and empowers employees to deliver your brand of exceptional customer experience.
Culture clashes – one of the biggest barriers to progress
CX leaders are built on visionary customer-centric cultures. They are not profit-centred. As we mentioned earlier, everything they do is designed from the customer back. They are either built that way or they rewire internally so that everything aligns with the customer.
Is your business truly customer-centric?
There isn’t an off-the-peg test to test whether your business is customer-centric. But, here are a few questions to think about.
- Is your business still mainly focussed on your products, prices and shareholders?
- Who is responsible and accountable for CX?
- What do your customers say about how they experience your brand, products and services? See #3 below for more on this?
- Do your employees understand your CX vision and the role they play in delivering it? Do they have sufficient training and knowledge to do this?
- What do your employees say to one another, in company surveys and on review sites like Glassdoor?
- When was the last time you ran a CX maturity assessment?
How to start to change your culture
If you are looking how to better build around your customers, here are 8 essential activities that companies can execute to help transform your customer experience and create a customer-centric culture.
- Define a customer-centric vision and strategy – develop a clear vision and strategy that outlines the company’s goals and objectives for improving customer experience. Ensure that leadership comes from the top to drive the change. Implement the change organisation-wide.
- Create a customer journey map – develop a customer journey map that identifies all touchpoints in the customer journey and analyses each interaction to gain a holistic understanding of what customers go through. Use these insights to prioritise improvements.
- Collect and analyse customer data and feedback – gather feedback – structured and unstructured – from customers through various channels. This can include personas, surveys, behavioural data from your website and apps, transactional data, loyalty programme information, social media, and customer service interactions. Analyse the data to identify patterns, trends and opportunities.
- Develop customer-focused products, processes and procedures – develop products, processes and procedures that are designed from the customer back to deliver superior experiences.
- Invest in technology – implement technology solutions that support customer experience, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, chatbots, and self-service portals.
- Train and empower employees – provide training and resources that enable employees to deliver your brand of CX as your business matures.
- Measure and track progress – choose the right metrics to track progress to ensure that the customer experience programme is meeting your goals and objectives.
- Continuously improve – continuously improve and refine your strategy.
Leading by example – Ericsson and DHL
These steps above are crucial to make a success of your CX transformation.
Take Ericsson, for example. The telecoms giant has a customer experience programme that focuses on understanding customer needs and delivering personalised experiences. Similarly, Dutch logistics company DHL has a customer experience program that includes customer journey mapping, customer feedback collection, and employee training. These are just two examples of B2B companies in Europe that have successfully implemented transformational customer experience programs as they mature.
To sum up
Shifting to customer-centric models requires a shift in culture and a deep understanding of customers’ needs and preferences. But, businesses that describe themselves mature – across the globe – are still in the minority. They are barely scraping into double figures. Most companies describe themselves as ‘novices’. This won’t hold. There is work to do. Some European businesses risk falling behind if they don’t take action to transition into a customer-centric organisation and design experiences that create loyal customers. Your survival could depend on it.
The European Customer Experience Organization (ECXO) understands the complexities of CX transformation and is here to help. ECXO is a fast-growing and evolving professional business network, created to bridge the gaps between the different cultures across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to create a new set of standards. We aim to educate practitioners and companies while generating a unified customer experience model with a European regional focus. Find out more here.
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Gartner Glossary – customer centricity
How the operating model can unlock the full power of customer experience