Customer Experience

The Way to a Customer’s Heart Is Through Your Employees

Companies need to understand that their employees are key to keeping customers satisfied as they increasingly focus on the customer experience this year, said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Temkin Group.

Temkin identified eight customer experience trends for 2015:

  • Corporate Culture Conversations
  • CX Training and Engagement
  • Voice of the Customer Renovations
  • Mobile Formulations
  • Brand Revaluations
  • Customer Journey Deliberations
  • Contact Center Loyalty Aspirations
  • Human Resources Participation

Companies will need to train their staff in these areas, Temkin advised.

However, “all the training in the world for the masses of employees will fall short if the leadership team is not on board,” he told CRM Buyer.

“Training is only valuable when it’s helping employees understand how to fulfill their role in delivering on the company’s mission and fulfilling its brand promises,” Temkin explained.

“If leaders aren’t clear on those things, then training will be a wasted investment,” he cautioned.

Examining Some of Temkin’s CX Trends

“The most disruptive of the eight, if it materializes as a measurable trend, is contact center loyalty aspirations, which goes hand-in-hand with CX training and engagement,” said Eric Quanstrom, CMO at Pipeliner.

Training contact center staff to be more relationship-focused “is a total shift from the cost-center mentality, [which] would acknowledge that relationship marketing is a value-add rather than a cost center,” he told CRM Buyer.

Corporate culture is critical, Temkin said. Customer-centric cultures are based on the four CX core competencies: purposeful leadership; compelling brand values; employee engagement; and customer connectedness.

The demand for CX training and engagement will increase this year, Temkin predicted.

Improving the mobile customer experience is also going to be important.

Seventy percent of customers used a smartphone to make a purchase in the last six months of 2013, the CFI Group reported. However, 41 percent of corporate tech interactions with customers merely facilitated checkout processes.

“Companies need to rethink their operational processes and identify which ones can be significantly improved by incorporating mobile interactivity from customers or employees,” Temkin said.

The Ambiguity of Customer Feedback

Clear feedback from customers is one of the most powerful forces in an organization, so many corporations are building voice of the customer programs, Temkin found. Many of them need to update their approach and technology.

However, enterprise intelligence, rather than customer feedback, is one of five trends that will reshape how companies deal with customer insights, he posited.

Customer feedback remains very valuable, “but you can only get so much from surveys,” Temkin said. Instead of pushing surveys for the sake of gathering numbers, companies “can tap into many different sources of insights about customers, including learning more from employees.” Understanding what customers are trying to achieve, their overall goals and journeys, “provides the context for developing true empathy and proactively meeting the real needs of customers.”

Customer feedback alone isn’t sufficiently predictive, acknowledged Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“The customer knows what they want today; you need to know what they want tomorrow. Enterprise intelligence … includes markets and the competition,” he told CRM Buyer.

What More Is Needed

“I might be in violent agreement with [Temkin’s findings], and I have a book coming out in a few weeks — Solve for the Customer — to prove it,” said Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research Group.

Still, the Temkin report isn’t really disruptive, he told CRM Buyer. “The core disruption is subscriptions … . Subscribers are fearless about abandoning vendors that don’t meet their needs, and that is the truly disruptive thing.”

The Temkin report doesn’t include what Pombriant calls “the moment of truth.”

A moment of truth is something an enterprise builds a brand promise around so that it can develop process support using journey maps and workflow, he said. “It’s useless to think about engagement without first saying ‘this is what I can do or concentrate on,’ and ‘this is what I don’t worry about.'”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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