Customer Experience: Making Connections

Photo of Tom Foege

customer experienceSimply defined, customer experience (CX) is “a customer’s perception of their interaction with any part of an organization,” according to CX guru Colin Shaw. These interactions may be both internal and external to your company. It should come as no surprise that customer experiences are integral to your bottom-line. In fact, companies that focus on making connections with customers have shown to outperform companies that don’t.

Fortunately, these perceptions can be improved – but it requires research, discipline, commitment, behavior change and buy-in at every level of your organization.

CX success comes from making valuable connections with customers and employees. That sounds easy enough, but in reality, it’s not.

Connecting with customers

Connecting with customers begins with understanding how customers connect (or don’t connect) with you. When companies view their markets through the lens of their own products or services, they cannot effectively understand customers’ perception of them. Instead, view your company, and your offerings, from the outside-in to understand what customers think and how they behave with your messaging, your employees, your processes, and your products. Any information unrelated to customer interaction is secondary. Not unimportant, but secondary.

As a side note, this does not mean you should not conduct competitor research – you should. Consider researching what customers in your target markets feel about their experiences with your competitors. How do target customers feel about competitor messages, employees, and products? Your product might be differentiated from your competition, but do customers desire your differentiation more? When these questions can be answered in detail, you are on your way to making better connections with customers.

Many companies already manage “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) programs, but these must be more than simple customer feedback systems. VoC programs should go a step further – to capture real-time insights into customer behavior. Customers may not always be able to tell you what they need in the future, but by analyzing their behavior, you can reasonably predict future needs. Understanding the delta between the current CX at key touch points and the optimal CX (from the customers’ perspective). This provides you with data on the level of change required to improve customer experiences.

Connecting with employees

While it’s been proven that customer experience leadership translates into higher revenue, data also shows that companies that improve their employee experience (EX) also improve their customers’ experiences. It stands to reason that improving EX makes your company financially healthier. Higher employee retention lowers costs – but even better, when employees are engaged with their work, their co-workers, their company and customers, improvements are seen with CX.

Many of the same rules of CX apply to EX. Companies must understand the “Voice of the Employee” to get a sense of how the employee experience can be improved. There are key employee interaction points that can be improved upon, starting from recruiting. Great employee experiences start with hiring the right people to support great customer experiences. It’s important to consider the characteristics in potential candidates that match your company culture of great customer experience you are looking to drive.

Once you’ve found a great hire, training is incredibly important. In fact, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. New employee onboarding is critically important to sustaining both CX and EX efforts.

Connecting insights with interactions

How do you get an understanding of how customers can better connect with your product, service and brand? Talk to them. I am surprised when I hear about companies who want to talk mainly with internal stakeholders (and a few select customers) about improving customer experiences.

Some interactions are more important to customers than others. Gathering data from every customer segment for every interaction they have with your company seems, and is, overwhelming. Collecting a mountain of data is also difficult to convert into anything actionable. But focusing on critical interactions can make the CX process much more manageable. Many in the CX space use the phrase “Moments That Matter”. As customer experiences become more data-driven, it’s important to take it further to connect “Moments That Matter” with “Insights That Matter”.

Accumulating data on touch points that are less important to customers wastes time, resources and money. Early in customer experiences transformations, it also does not move the CX needle in a meaningful way. Generate meaningful data to act upon. Understand how effective, easy and enjoyable was it for customers to interact with you and your product at the instances that matter to them? How did they behave during these key interactions?

Connecting customer touch point insights with teams and process improvements

Now that you’ve collected the right data for the right touch points, it’s time to take specific action to improve CX.

Understand which teams, departments, individuals have the greatest opportunity to directly and indirectly affect positive change at specific touch points. Going back to employee experiences, individuals and teams that can affect improvements to interactions feel more connected to the company when they are directly responsible for determining (and executing on) the improvements to be made to CX – so everybody wins.

Caiman Consulting connects your customers to you for better customer experiences

Caiman collects, analyzes and converts data into action to improve customer and employee experiences. We connect specific data to specific touchpoints, and connect teams and individuals to specific touch point improvement.

This series of connections optimize CX efforts, but also make them efficient by focusing resources on interactions important to customers and employees.

Improved CX and EX help the top and bottom line. Your employees will be more engaged, and your customers will be more likely to buy more from you and tell others to do the same.