Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Brand Minus Customer Experience

Nothing !!!! Yes it is nothing. 

Everything that a customer feels, thinks, sees is all CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX). 

M of McDonald represents fun, food, taste, ambiance, service excellence, smiling & helpful employees. M reminds us of all these. Therefore M is not a logo or McDonald is not a brand , but it is all about what M McDonald represents

Whenever next-time you think of designing your logo or planning a branding exercise, if the same is not commensurate with the experience your business is offering to the customer. It will not be a branding exercise. It will be a waste or It will be all negative experiences it can recall.

The 1st step is designing Customer Experience. Branding will follow from Customer Experience. 

Have you designed your CX & walked your Customer Journey to know the brand your entrepreneurial efforts are building  ? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 Steps to REJUVENATE Customer Experience

Ok , at our business we have decided to focus on customers and create Customer Experience (CX) that gives us competitive advantage. What next ?  

1) Discover (know the present CX your enterprise offers to your customers

- First know your Customer's Journey Maps 
- Know the touch points along the journey
- Walk the Journey Maps to know the present experience 
- Test check Net Promoter Scorecard (NPS) 
- Have customer experience audit by analyzing critical aspects impacting CX 
  (Leadership to Channel Partners, all which incl people, process, product, expectation,
culture, branding & marketing & systems)

2) Design (redesign the CX you would like to offer to to our customer to have un-duplicable competitive edge

- Define CX Statement 
- Redesign the experience along the journey through various touch points 
 ( CX Statement minus Discover Stage Status ) 
- Keep human rationality , emotional aspects , senses in mind while redesigning for need, ease & delight. 

3) Deploy (implement enterprise wide redesigned CX

- Appoint CCxO (Chief Customer Xperience Officer) 
- Realign all critical aspects impacting CX keeping above two steps in mind
- Launch new journey maps 
- Walk the new Journey (Incl CEO)

Repeat the process !!! Yes its an ongoing process. 

These are the steps. These are the steps to create wow & awe customer experience. These are the steps to create un-duplicable customer experience.  These are the steps to create sustainable competitive advantage. These are the steps to business survival in otherwise commoditised world. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What is customer experience elasticity of demand of your offerings ?

This principle of economics is used for elasticity of demand for price. Time has come to use the same for better customer experience. 

PED definition is : 

Price elasticity of demand is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness or elasticity of the quality demanded of a good or service to a change in its price.   

New age definition of importance is:  

Customer Experience elasticity of demand is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness or elasticity of the quality demanded of a good or service to a change in its customer experience.   

Therefore before you ask for ROI of better customer experience initiatives answer following questions:

What is your advertising & marketing budget ? 

What is the cost of acquiring new customer ? 

What is the potential loss due to losing exiting customers ? 

What is the gain from repeat purchase from existing customers ? 

What is the gain from referral business from existing customers ? 

What is the gain from existing customers (+) WOM across channel ?

What is the loss from existing customers (-) WOM across channel ?

What is the potential market share loss due to competitor taking lead in offering better customer experience ? 

What is the elasticity of demand for better customer experience ? 

What is your better customer experience creation budget for existing customers ? 

What is the gain in to be known as customer experience champion company ? 

Answer these questions before you ask about ROI of customer experience initiatives in your organisation. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

You are EXPOSED !!!

Your company may be working in SILOs but customers see through the company as one entity or brand. This is the reason companies are at greater risk of being exposed. 
Many enterprises may think that only front-end people and front-end outlets are being exposed in front of Customers. 

Customer experiences your enterprise in following ways during their journey. 

Every-time they touch your enterprise you are exposed. 

Touch Points
Exposes (Indicative not conclusive list) 
Advertising / Sales Website 
Branding, Communication , Product/Service Conceiving Capability 
Word Of Mouth
How you have dealt with your previous & existing customers, customer policies posts sales , product & service qualities
Product/Service Display/Demo
Manufacturing , Engineering , Service Capability
Front end people
Training , HR Policies 
Back-end Processes
How your business process are designed & aligned to customer needs- like delivery, billing, packaging, queue management, admission process.
Outlet/Website for Transactions
Design & display capability , ease & convenience capability , safety policy, people policy
Company Policies
Return, exchange , store location policy
Product/Service Usage
Manufacturing , Engineering , Service Capability
After Sales Responsiveness
Customer Policy, Company Culture 

Whatever the enterprise does at the back-end invariably touches the customer.  

When Mr Zubin Mehta will perform in Kashmir on 7th Sep, in front of the audience, he is aware that they are in front of their audience and their preparation will be in tune with that. There is however no difference be it audience or customer but difference lies with symphony orchestra conductor and business enterprise conductors ie CXOs. 

One is aware and others are not aware that they are in-front of the customers and are exposed to them whatever /where-ever they do. 

Become aware that your enterprise is staging a show in front of your customers & prepare accordingly. Remember author duo - Pine & Gilmore - Work is a theater, every business a stage. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why your customers MUST promote your brand ?

Why your previous & existing customers are NOT promoting your brand ? 

When previous & existing are customers are not promoting , their own loyalty is also at risk.

Its is a very serious issue. 

- may be they are not satisfied (not meeting basic need) 
- may be they are not happy (not exceeding expectations) 
- may be they think there is something better available 
- may be experience was not engaging 
- may be experience was not memorable 
- may be it was not emotionally touching 
- may be they considered price was more than value it delivered
- may be your promise was more than what you delivered 

Reasons could be any and many. Company can not afford to ignore these reasons. It is not that it saves your marketing cost but it is for the very purpose to know whether your enterprise is doing the right things in a right way. 

Before you get financial results at the end of the year , knowing what your customers are doing for you in the market is an indicator of financial results one can expect. 

Like political parties would like to know mood of the nation before election & take last minute corrective measures, entrepreneurs also must know & act on mood of the customers. When the mood is like the points stated above challenge for entrepreneurs is bigger. 

Make it a mission that every customer MUST recommend your offerings by becoming brand advocate.  There are few companies that enjoys this kind of reputation. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Extreme Customer Orientation !!

Yes Norwegian Insurance Company Gjensidige decide to become Extreme Customer Orientation company. 

Point is not HOW and WHY. Point is degree of customer focus companies have started to become to differentiate and create superior customer experience. 

Customer Experience (CE) as sustainable competitive advantage is now accepted by many companies. Leaders will always take a lead and grab first movers’ advantage. Followers will have no choice later and will be forced to focus on CE but that will be at the cost of lots of brand damage & first mover advantage. 

By two and half years into the process Gjensidige had been a dramatic rise in their position of Norwegian National Customer Satisfaction Barometer & won two of the biggest customer satisfaction awards for their industry. They have consistently beaten market expectations with their financial results & can prove that they provide their services more efficiently than their peers in Europe & US.   

Even CE is a new Marketing strategy. Without first focusing on customer experience or extreme customer focus, thinking & deciding about marketing campaign is a shallow strategy. 

- Do you map your customer journey ? 
- Do you conduct customer experience audit ? 
- Do you measure your customer experience ? 
- Do you have defined customer experience statement? 
- Do you have deliberate customer experience designed for all touch points? 
- Do you have someone in charge of end to end customer experience ? 
- Do you discuss customer issues in senior management meeting ? 

Extremely customer sensitive companies have started focusing on extreme customer orientation, have you stared focusing on basic customer experience ?  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are you worrying about Economic Crisis? Focus on Customer Experience.

Companies do not want to spend EXTRA during economic downturn. Who cares for customer experience during economic crisis ? General mood is negative, companies are struggling to survive, maintain sales & margins ,  lay off is imminent , big campaigns are put on hold, no new investments. Mood is sombre. 

To change the mood of every stake holders this is the right time to focus on customer experience initiative. When else you would focus on this? 

Good times are booming times , hence no time and need to focus on Customer Experience (CE) initiatives. Sales are anyway growing. Everybody is growing, expanding capacity  & happy. 

This is the time when you not only can retain your existing customers, make them spend same or more, get new customers , get new referrals. Yes in down time people are spending less therefore it is all the more important that you continue have your market share. That will only happen if and only if your enterprise is preferred by customers to deal with. Customers will remember how there were treated in bad times. 

Companies not focusing on CE will lose some so new customers are floating to be captured by better customer experience. Word of Mouth (WOM) & referral business is at all time high in bad times as people want to be doubly sure where they wish to spend.  

Most Important: Remember in down time customers are also in sombre mood.  In this time of crisis when companies focus on emotional customer experience, it will go long long way to win more & more customers in bad times. They will remember you in good times as well. Its a win win proposition. 

Following para from Forrester report will reinforce the need to focus on customer experience initiatives in down time: 

Faced with increasing competition from new entrants, coupled with the 2008 financial crisis that pummeled the shipping industry, Maersk Line was seeing its margins shrink. Firms in the industry were cutting prices to maintain revenues, threatening to erode margins even further. To avoid the “race to the bottom,” Maersk Line’s executive management team determined that customer experience would play an important role in creating customer loyalty and stopping this commoditization. In 2009, the executive team turned to a 17-year veteran at the company, Jesper Engelbrecht Thomsen, the firm’s vice president of customer service, to improve the end-to-end customer experience.

Within 3 years with the organisation level CE initiatives this company registered growth in Net Promoter Score (NPS) by 40%. Therefore irrespective of type of business & business cycle , it pays to focus on CE initiatives. 

Do you want more severe economic downturn to embrace CE initiatives? 

Place for odd man out is empty. Be the one to occupy that. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Customer Experience Lessons from Narendra Modi

Surprising but that is the fact, all organisations can learn quite a few lessons in customer experience from him. 

He visited a college in Delhi & addressed students in a jam packed hall, massive rally in Punjab in June, he addressed massive rally in Hyderabad earlier this month,  he tops popularity chart for the post of PM of a country of our size.  He was not a national leader & still he has built his solid brand across India. Charisma is the word but this charisma is built by experience people are experiencing about him. 

First and foremost he has huge fan base in Gujarat because of work he has done for the people of Gujarat and decisive leadership he has demonstrated.  Many innovative schemes are implemented which have impacted the lives of the citizen in quite a positive way.  

After doing what matters to the citizen of his state he has shown mastery in communication skills. Not only his oratory skill but he has used all traditional as well as modern social media to showcase what he could achieve for the people of his state. We have the concept of bestselling books and not best written books. To convert best written book into bestselling book, book must communicate, readers of the book also must communicate about it. In his case perhaps he is best performing as well as best selling CM & this is only because of communication skills and effective use of mediums. You cannot afford to lack either. 

Now he is making people across the country believe that same kind of growth , faster decision making  , efficient & non corrupt bureaucracy which is on the edge to help, support & execute  & most important decisive leadership is possible. These are the pain points for the people in other states.  

Lessons are as under: 

1) Focus single Mindedly in creating wow !! Customer experience which in his case he has demonstrated by series of innovative measures keeping citizen interest & pain points at heart. All machinery at his disposal have been geared up to help people of the state. This has created millions of fan follower. 

Whether your organisation is single mindedly geared up to offer delightful customer experience ? How many fan following your product/service commands ? 

2) Distinctly communicate to potential customers what have you done for your existing customers and how have you impacted their life for the better.  Use all possible medium to communicate. Allow your FANs to use platform you create to communicate with your future customers. 

What & How are you communicating with your present & potential customers ?  For , CEO Tony , message is clear Delivering Happiness, for Narendra Modi message is clear Development. What is your clear message to all your present and potential customers? (This will be more effective if this is otherwise a pain point for them).  

3) Demonstrate that you can address all pain points your potential customers are facing by their loyalty to competing brand. Your existing customer experience creating capabilities coupled with how that experience is addressing known pain points of customers is very important. 

Do you know what are the pain points of your potential customers which you can address ? 

  1. Create an experience (change culture, design and execute) 
  2. Communicate an experience (your fans will do it)
  3. Communicate it is possible for all i.e. for your non customers (use all possible media)
  4. Create Confidence that you can do it (all the above three at play at its best can do it) 
Lessons in CE are coming from everywhere, are you willing to look around & listen ? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is your enterprise surviving without Customer Xperience Audit?

When you are clueless about results of financial audit, think of customer experience (CE) audit. Yes CE audits can bring out many of the causes of good or bad financial results. Unfortunately no companies engage in CE audits. 

When your company's EPS is dropping, it is not necessarily due to higher capital deployment or higher input cost, it can be because of your lower pricing capability, it can be because of higher ad/marketing cost, it can be because of higher customer turnover, it can be because of low per capita buying by existing customers, it can be because of your faulty customer services design & it can be because you are neither listening nor watching your customers.    

VOC & Journey Maps / Customer Mirror are some of the ways in which you can know about kind of customer experience your enterprise is delivering while dealing with your customers. Remember Mystery Shopping is not CE audit. Its is just a one component of CE audit. 

Financial performance is the result of all these activities company performs during the year. We are too keen to know the result & then analyse it superfluously without even thinking about CE. 

Its like focusing on exercise for weight loss results without focusing on diet. If you keep analyzing and changing your exercise without proper diet plan it is neither a right analysis nor it will give desired results even in future.

Our intake is critical for weight loss programme, exercise just support and supplements it. You can reduce weight with proper and timely diet without exercise but without diet discipline only with exercise weight loss is not possible and even if it is achieved it is not sustainable.

Likewise without focusing on customer experience part , financial results shall not be analysed & it can not remain sustainable. For long term sustainable financial results which every company desires, focus on CE is critical prerequisite for analysing the results. 

Therefore immediately after financial audit , companies must commence CE audits. Both put together is the right recipe for performance improvement initiatives. Without CE audits and knowing what kind of CE your company is delivering , all performance improvement initiatives will  be incomplete and won’t give the desired outcome. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ICICI Bank Customer Experience of Utter Frustration

Do you know how much effort it takes for the customers to deal with you ? This is my classic ICICI Bank Credit Card /Call Center experience during last 3 days. 

I wanted to report about fraudulent transactions on my credit card. There were 17 transactions in the time lag of 4 minutes. But it took 50 minutes for me to report it to the bank. 

There is neither emergency contact numbers not call center number on credit card bill so net connectivity is necessary to find their number from website. Even on website there is no separate emergency number. All matters are treated equally. 

There is no proper & complete instructions for emergency handling at cell center number punches. It took 50 minutes for me to reach them and report my issues which incl long queues and line disconnect in between the conversation.  

Call center agent handling emergency has no updated email ID where I have to send my written complaint. I was given an out dated email ID, which was corrected by other agent on the next day. 

Agent handling card loss issues which they classify as emergency and given priority does not know how to deal with emergency. He has asked me to come through normal route after punching so many keys even without knowing my issues. 

There is no system of acknowledgment for the written complaint sent. I was told it will happen in 24 hours. I am in 26th hour and still waiting. I am not sure whether they have received my written complaint which was to be sent within 48 hours. 

I have a feeling of pathetic ( fumbling at every possible instance ) , careless ( don't know which punches stand for what on call center punch menu ), negligent ( don't have updated email ID with emergency team  ) , thoughtless ( don't print customer care or emergency number on 4 page long bill ) & frustration  ( still awaiting for acknowledgement even after so much of communication and scaling up up to the level of MD ) about whole my ICICI bank experience.  

The point I am trying to make is, many a times it takes huge efforts of our customers to deal with our business.  Do you have any customer effort scorecard mechanism in place? Do you periodically ask your customers feedback about experience and efforts they have to put in while dealing with your business?  

It is extremely important especially in B2B scenario where per customer stakes are high. Don’t just focus on sales,  focus on customer experience your business creates , customer efforts it takes to deal with your business & customer emotions your efforts invokes before/during & after sales.