We all talk about improving the customer experience, but what exactly is it? Teresa Cottam argues that often we’re still not looking at the customer experience from the customer’s point of view.
In 2010 and through into 2011 “customer experience” and “customer experience management” have become real buzz words in the industry.
As someone who champions the customer experience I guess I should be pleased by that, but I have to confess that I’m not. On the one hand understanding that many components contribute to the customer experience is very important. I do not believe in “customer experience silos” where we pay lip service to being customer centric while the vast majority of our business continues in the same old way. However, I also think it’s dangerous to really stretch and bend a term just to market off the back of it – something we have a terrible track record of doing.
The customer experience is far too important an issue for this to happen. Unless we’re able to deliver the type of experience our customers expect then we’ll end up with little or no business – and that is true of both consumer-focused CSPs and those focused on business customers and wholesale.
The problem I have with many companies’ ideas of “customer experience” is that it is still focused on their needs and wants, and not on the needs and wants of their customers. For example, they’re still in the mode of serving up an offer on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Or they bamboozle customers into long contracts and bundled packages that don’t meet their needs at all, but rather meet the needs of the CSP offering them. Sadly, when I talk to customer focus groups they don’t hate their CSPs but they rarely love them either. Many feel the CSP simply doesn’t listen, doesn’t offer the services they want to buy, or puts blockers in the way of them buying what they do want. The relationship, they tell me, is too focused on contract renewal and customer acquisition and not on maintaining an ongoing relationship.
In order to create a good customer experience the very first step is to understand how the customer perceives that experience. This is created not just from customer service (ie CRM-based), but from all the different touchpoints customers have with the CSP. At Telesperience we believe there are four main pillars to the telecoms customer experience. Each must be optimised by the CSP and then the four need to be co-ordinated to work well together. These four pillars are what the customer perceives. They are supported by – but not defined by – the technologies or processes that deliver them.
We’ve put these pillars together into a handy infographic for you. Feel free to share this and re-use it. Let’s use it as a starting point to discuss how we can truly improve the telecoms customer experience and better meet the needs of our customers. Please note, however, that it’s also important for us to deliver a good customer experience in a profitable manner. It’s perfectly possible just to throw money at customers to keep them happy, but that’s an unwise road to travel down. After all, we’re businesses, not charities. Thus whatever we do should have both a positive customer impact but ultimately should translate into profits for the CSP.