Getting Started: Customer Experience Enhancement

December 15, 2005

I've been writing a lot lately about customer experience enhancement. It is a subject about which I am passionate and a goal that my clients have asked me to help them achieve. The result of these initiatives proves that poor brand performance, whether isolated or systemic, can be reversed if an organization is committed long-term and willing to work hard.

Here are a few tips to getting started down the path to customer experience enhancement:

1. Customers return to companies they understand and trust. Make yours one of them.
† a. Raise your conversation with customers to its most natural state of clarity and simplicity.††
† b. Be honest - Recognize past problems and articulate what you are doing to fix them. Employees and partners will respect you; customers will listen.†
† c. Reward participation (internal and external sharing of expectations and experiences). Competitive reviews can help establish a baseline against which to compare.†

2. Revisit your company's core identity, values and operating principles. Are your people and processes supporting these?
If not, find out why.

† a. Think about how you gain or lose value through ?customer experiences? and map out a picture of the current state.
† b. Identify the behaviors that impact brand performance.†

3. Once you know where the pain is, run cost-benefit analysis to determine the magnitude and value of needed changes.
† a. If the ROI is there, go for it. Prioritize first, then set achievable goals. Focus on the most critical points of interaction with your most valuable customers first.
† b. Try to make innovative changes that reinforce your brand and demonstrate customer focus.

4. Consider how you measure satisfaction.
† a. Work with business leaders to balance financial and customer experience goals; these should align.†
† b. Fast-paced industries, such as technology, may measure satisfaction more frequently.†
† c. Slower or traditional industries might use quarterly touchpoint research to remain responsive.
† d. How you present products and services is also important. Linking product development specs to post-sales surveys can expose innovations for which there is little demand while averting future dissatisfaction.†

5. Evaluate and quantify progress against goals at planned intervals.
† a. Employ tracking studies to maintain focus on customers and provide a regular basis for realignment.†
† b. Online questionnaires, direct mail surveys, and paid user research can be effective ways to collect this data.

- Patrick Ohlin

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