According to a report released by Field Technologies in November, improving customer experience was reported as the #1 strategic initiative for 76 percent of service organizations surveyed. While some of these field service organizations are really embracing CX and implementing a true strategy, others I’ve encountered know that CX is something they should be focusing on, so they claim to have a “CX focus” without much actual strategy or action behind it.
Schindler Elevator Corporation is a great example of a company that is genuinely embracing CX in an actionable way. In fact, in August of 2018, the company brought on board Stacy Sherman as the Director of Customer Experience. Throughout Sherman’s 20-plus year career as a CX and digital marketing professional, she has gained expertise in developing and launching revenue-producing marketing campaigns, CX programs, and Voice of Customer (VOC) initiatives. Before her role at Schindler, Sherman worked at Verizon Wireless, AT&T and well-known Consumer Product (CPG) companies where she led a variety of CX initiatives, including persona development, journey mapping, concept validation, prototype, and usertesting. She’s also co-developed a new CX scoring platform to aggregate and prioritize customer feedback across journey touchpoints for post-launch improvements. In her spare time, Sherman started and continues to write for her CX blog – www.doingcxright.com – that translates her experience into a valuable perspective for those looking to get a better grasp on CX strategy and tactics.
The following interview originally appeared in Field Services.
Nicastro: In your words, why is it essential for service organizations to invest in CX?
Sherman: My answer is simple. Customer Excellence is NOT a fad. It is no longer a “nice to do” but rather a “have to do.” CX has become a company’s competitive advantage, as brands cannot acquire and retain customers strictly on price alone. To really “walk the CX talk,” leaders need to allocate budget for hiring CX-skilled professionals and invest in the best tools and platforms to measure customer satisfaction and take action from insights obtained. If, for example, the level of effort is difficult (i.e. getting and setting up) or they can’t accomplish a goal (i.e. receiving help), people are likely to switch to another brand and even worse, tell others leading to potentially more substantial impacts. I can go on and on about this topic!
Nicastro: For a company that is in the beginning stages of a true customer-centric approach, what advice do you have for how to incorporate CX into the company culture?
Sherman: Creating a customer-centric culture does NOT occur overnight. It takes a lot of time and employee commitment. There are many ways to achieve a “customer-first” organization. My top two recommendations are to get an Executive champion (or several) in your company as it speeds up the process. Secondly, train people at all levels of the organization, especially front-line employees, on CX. In a prior job, I spearheaded a CX Training program for my team to get certified by a prestigious university. It helped everyone understand the importance of CX, learn best practices, implement CX in their roles, speak the same language and much more. I believe it was a contributing factor to achieving our department goals. If you would like to know more about the program and my personal experience, you can read the article >HERE.
Nicastro: You talk on your blog about VOC. What is VOC, why is it important, and how do companies go about getting it?
Sherman: Ah, great question as not too long ago, nobody knew what this acronym was. Now VOC is part of common-day language in the business world. VOC stands for “Voice of Customer.” Getting customer feedback is an essential part of conducting business. I’ve seen too many companies develop new products and features without asking customers directly what they want upfront, and then wonder why they do not achieve sales goals. It’s the same for online websites, apps, and other customer digital experiences. Designing without VOC input and user testing often results in customer frustration and dissatisfaction, which leads me back to the first question and why investing in CX methodologies is essential. There are many ways to capture VOC feedback. Sources include but are not limited to: 1-1 interviews, focus groups, online chat, call center recordings, social media, ratings and reviews, surveys, and more. Which one to leverage depends on different factors, and there are best practices to each source. The key to CX success is aggregating all the quantitative and qualitative insights, centralizing the information, identifying key priorities and taking action (close the loop) to drive improvements.
Nicastro: How are VOC and Customer Journey Mapping different? What is the value of Customer Journey Mapping?
Sherman: There’s a lot to say about this question. First of all, a customer journey map is a simple concept: it is a diagram that shows the steps customer(s) go through when interacting with a company. The need for journey maps becomes more critical as the number of touchpoints increase and get more complex. There are many ways to create journey maps. Though they may look visually different from one organization to another, there are consistent elements regardless of design:
Personas. Journey maps need to be created for specific customer segments. Maps account for how target audiences think and feel, their expectations, perceptions and more.
Touchpoints. Journey maps identify a series of steps that customers go through as they proceed through lifecycle stages and channels.
Data. It is compiled from a variety of sources internally (i.e. website analytics) and externally (i.e. surveys). The quantitative and qualitative insights help bring the customer to life.
There are many benefits of Journey Mapping:
It enables teams to understand their customers and create desired experiences in support of launches (products, services, websites, etc).
It allows information to be organized in one place with the ability to identify actionable improvement opportunities.
It helps cross-teams prioritize decisions together and focus resources on fixing customer pain points.
It serves as a communication tool to keep everyone on the “same page.” Maps may also be useful for employee training.
It helps leaders identify operational inefficiencies to ensure employees are spending time on activities that add customer value.
As for Voice of Customer, VOC serves as an input when creating a Journey Map. It’s a component of a CX practice and a significant part. I offer a free template to help journey mapping efforts >HERE.
Nicastro: How does a company measure CX as well as track the improvement/payoff of its CX investments?
Sherman: There are many metrics to gauge customer perceptions and expectations, and how well a company delivers on these. The most well-known measurement source is Net Promoter Score (NPS). In simplest terms, it is a single question asked of customers: “How Likely Would You Recommend (insert company name) To Your Friend or Business Colleague?” The answer indicates how customers view a brand and is based on a mathematical approach. There’s an informative short video that explains the history of NPS, the NPS equation and the meaning behind the score, >HERE. NPS is not the only key performance indicator. Measuring Customer Satisfaction (C-Sat), Level of Effort, Sentiments, and others are equally important because they are DRIVERS of NPS. There is no exact science to calculating ROI when it comes to CX, but you could make projections about the RISK of losing a customer when not “DoingCXRight!”
Nicastro: What are the biggest mistakes you see companies make related to CX?
Sherman: There are many examples of Doing CX Wrong but to name a few:
-Asking people for feedback and not doing anything with what they shared. If “closing the loop” is not part of your strategy, then do not waste a customer’s valuable time.
-Focusing on just one or a few customer touchpoints rather than their whole journey. If someone is satisfied with their buying experience but has a challenge with installation and understanding their bill, chances are the customer may cancel their service and switch to a competitor.
-Relying on employee feedback aka “Voice of Employee” (VOE) in place of “Voice of Customer” (VOC). Decisions need to be made based on an “Outside In” approach, not the reverse. I’ve witnessed many teams design Journey Maps without ever validating them with actual customers. That can turn into a costly mistake!
Nicastro: How do you see CX evolving over the next year?
Sherman: I believe that emerging technology including the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is bringing CX to the next level allowing customer experiences to be more personalized.
I also believe that more universities will be including CX as part of the business curriculum, as Customer Excellence is becoming a career path with expertise in demand.
All opinions expressed are Stacy’s alone and do not reflect the views of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.