The Top 10 Best Practices in the Development of Customer Experience (CX) Excellence Programs (CEEPs)

Customer Experience (CX) is becoming a greater focus for many companies world-wide. WHY? The development of Customer Experience Excellence has been demonstrated to enable marketplace competitive advantage and to create fiercely loyal customers who are willing to advocate for the company and its brands and are also willing to pay more for their products and services in exchange for uniquely excellent customer service. In addition, when customers are provided with truly exceptional/memorable customer service time and time again, they repeatedly tell positive stories about their amazing customer experience, telling as many people as they can influence about your company, how their experience made a positive difference in their lives and how your company cares about them vs. your competitors. In essence, delighted customers transition themselves into adjunct company marketing and sales agents for the company that is equal to millions in company paid efforts, plus their grass-root and viral influence is judged at least 5-10x more credible/believable vs. company paid advertising, marketing and sales.

 

The chart below is a small sample of the benefits gained by my clients and many other companies as a result of the systemic implementation of a customer experience excellence program. In addition to the above, employees are found to be much more content working for a company who truly cares about the well being of their customers and the service they are receiving.  It makes employees, as a client employee once said in a leadership meeting, “ I am Part of it, Proud of it”. In essence, making customers happy in turn makes employees feel satisfied.

Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience
Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience

As a result of my experience developing Customer Experience Excellence and CRM Programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies including {American Express, Intuit Software, HP, Ritz-Carlton, Pfizer, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Starwood Hotels, Marriott, JC Penney, Macy’s, Toyota of America, Nissan, General Motors, Lenox, Southwest Airlines, Astra-Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Welch Allyn Medical Systems, Vanguard, Citibank, Allstate, AXA Insurance, SONY, Siebel & Oracle Systems, SAS Software, Unica Software, Neopost, Bank of America, Samsung, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Hilton, etc.}, I have developed the following set of top 10 best practices in relation to the development of a customer experience excellence program:

 

1. The program must be advocated, supported and championed at the CxO level. This is evidenced by the increases in staffing of the position called the “Chief Customer Experience Officer” that most top companies now have.

WHY?:  Forrester reports that 76% of executives say improving CX is a high or critical priority and many companies have established a C-level position to oversee it. Great read, source: “Why every company needs a Chief Customer Experience Officer”, Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/06/why-every-company-needs-a-chief-experience-officer

 

2. A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.

WHY?: The metrics are the vision of the program and without these, the program is flying blind on whether the program is resonating with the customer.

 

3. The customer must be invited, as a brand-company partner, to participate in the program development, roll-out and ongoing evolution.

WHY?: Without really asking the customer about what they want/need directly, all other attempts or approximation of customer needs through analytics or intuition based decision making are merely guesses of what the customer really needs and wants and are likely to miss their mark.

 

4. The program must be benchmarked against, and kept competitive with, all companies who are considered to be world-class customer experience companies.

WHY?: You might feel you have a great customer experience program, but without quantitatively benchmarking it against the best of the best companies, you will have no idea how really good it is, whether it is falling behind with current/leading practices, etc.

 

5. Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the customer service vision statement and overall strategy.

WHY?: Customer experience excellence procedures is the bridge and playbook that takes the higher level customer service vision and strategy and translates into the behaviors (culture) and major actions are needed on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis to bring this vision and strategy to life and make it real to every employee.

 

6. Employees must be supported in the delivery of customer experience excellence by a set of training and development programs that certify them to be able to deliver on the customer service and experience excellence standards, policies, SOPs, etc.

WHY?: The customer experience excellence training programs translate the higher-level customer experience excellence procedure and policies into a detailed playbook of specific and tactical employee actions and interactions that are required to deliver an exceptional customer service experience. In essence, these are the detailed ‘how-to’ of customer experience excellence delivery that makes the program real for front-line and customer facing employees.

 

7. The program must be underpinned and supported by best of breed technology infrastructure to capture customer knowledge and intelligence, mine customer information, automatically deliver relevant customer information real-time, allow customer to set preferences, etc.

WHY?: Technology will not only become the longitudinal memory for customer insights including needs, wants, preference, etc., but it will also serve to automate the delivery of intelligent customer interactions such that the program doesn’t become burdensome (vs. simple) to operate as it evolves and grows.

 

8. Related to #7 above, the program must be sophisticated in delivering on the various customer segment needs and wants, yet needs to be simple to engage and manage for customers and employees.

WHY?: People do business with companies that make it easy to do business with – fast, efficient, responsive companies are sought out more than those that are not. In addition, a program that is difficult to administer is at risk for execution errors by employees or by them short-cutting or avoiding the process.

 

9. The organizational culture at all levels must be created that is supportive of the customer experience excellence standards and all incentives must be aligned to encourage employee excellence in its delivery.

WHY?: Research by Gallup shows that work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity — and they experienced lower employee turnover, absenteeism, and safety incidents. In other words, it is difficult (impossible?) to deliver excellence customer service without a great corporate culture.  Original Source:  https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

 

10. The CEE program must be viewed holistically that takes into consideration people, process, technology and culture (PPTC) capabilities as well as all customer segments across all customer preferred channels of interaction.

WHY?: Pure and simple, a great program is implemented with the full (holistic) spectrum of capabilities considered. Focusing on only 1 or 2 of the 3 pillars of CEE (refer to CEEF framework chart below) will sub-optimize its performance.

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

While the previous chart pointed to benefits of implementing customer experience excellence, the above chart, while self-explanatory, highlights a few negative impacts of having poor customer experience delivery. In addition to the above, companies that have a poor customer experience also experience the following:

  1. Market share erosion

  2. Declining customer acquisition success

  3. Declining cross-sell and up-sell success

  4. Customer social sentiment that is increasingly negative across an array of social media platforms

The above chart illustrates that in order to effectively gauge the effectiveness of your current customer experience program, you must be measuring across a number of company areas to determine what is working and what is not. Sound familiar?   2) ” A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.”

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

The above chart is a best practice Customer Experience Framework that depicts the major pillars that enable customer experience excellence.

  1. The first pillar is the customer knowledge and insights that enable you to provide the customer with the right interaction at the right time and by the right channel of their choice.

  2. The 2nd is a robust customer strategy and delivery model to define the desired level of customer service delivery and how you will enable it.

  3. The 3rd and last is the development of a customer oriented culture to nurture and expand customer relationships that not only provides a differentiated customer experience, but also drives increased sales, loyalty and spend per customer.

I use this chart above, along with others, to develop the customer strategy, vision, policies, etc. Sound familiar?  5) Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the over developed customer strategy.

Key Deliverables in the Development of a  Best Practice Customer Experience

Key Deliverables in the Development of a Best Practice Customer Experience

The above chart is the waterfall development method I use to develop customer experience excellence. With few exceptions, each of the top level items must be mostly developed before the following lower level items can be developed.

For example, the top level CEE program vision, strategy and goals must be developed first, to be used as a guide for the development of its supporting standards, policy and guidelines.  All of these customer experience excellence deliverables align with the ten (10) best practices we covered at the beginning of this article.

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Above are the depicted major work-streams I employ to develop customer experience excellence for my clients. These major work-streams align to delivering the top 10 CEE best practices as well as my waterfall deliverable development schema in the previous chart.

Summary:

In summary, improving your customer experience delivery doesn’t have to cost a great deal, can start slowly, can now be measured and the return on investment is generally in multiples (2-10x+) of the cost. Without a delivering an exceptional customer experience (via an exceptional corporate culture),  you will be unable to acquire and retain great employees, will have more costly sales and marketing efforts and your customers will not be acquired as quickly or remain as loyal (vs. competitors). With all this being true, do you really have any excuse at all remaining not to actively work on ensuring you are delivering the best company customer experience possible as to create competitive marketplace advantage?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your customer service and customer experience, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model – Part 2: The Necessary Components.

1) Introduction:

In my previous blog, I covered what the new Customer Relevant Relationship Model (CRRM) is and the benefits of adopting this new model. In this blog, I will cover the components of the new CRRM model and what you need to put in place to make this new model a reality.

Ever wonder why companies like ESPN, Apple, Google, Zynga, Amazon, and Marriott dominate their respective markets? The reason is that they are ‘Customer First’ organizations and are passionate about listening to, understanding and then delighting their customers based on leveraging true customer insights. They treat their customers as business partners vs. commodities and include them in many critical decision making processes. They get this new CRRM model. Why/how ? – Read the rest of this blog to find out…

The differences between the old CRM model and how these companies are embracing the newer CRRM model are depicted in the following chart:

The Old CRM Model vs. New CRRM Model – Customers as Business Partners

2) Customers are fed up with old Dictatorial Management Style & Want to be Empowered as Business Partners

Customers and stakeholders today are longing for a company to partner with them and include them in the corporate decision making process.  These same constituencies are sick and tired of political, corporate, and other organizations making unilateral decisions for them that are really not in-line with their needs,  wants, etc. The backlash from this unwanted dictatorial management style of some companies can be seen in the Bank of America fee customer rebellion, the customer backlash from Netflix deciding to  split their company without first consulting with their customers and HPs initial decision to exit the computer market.

3) Components of the New CRRM Model:

In order to progress your organization from the old CRM model to the new CRRM  model, a few key essentials must be put in place and are as follows:

A. New CRRM Model that includes the 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights.  This model enables a 360° view of all customer and market insights including customer feedback, preferences, likes, dislikes, social sentiment, competitor activity, etc. This new model takes your insights to an entirely new level whereby you are now enabled to delight customers, stakeholders and stockholders by having insights that are light-years ahead of insights provided by a traditional CRM model.

B. Customer First Culture driven by management that is passionate about their customers including a set of customer first principles and guidelines developed by company leaders

C. Customer Ratings & Feedback Structure that will identify areas where you will collect customer 360° feedback from customer and stakeholder interactions

D. Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process and corresponding infrastructure in order to allow your customers to continually rate how well you are serving them

E. Customer Health Scorecard that provides real-time insights on how well the customers, stakeholders and stockholders perceives you as serving them as well as insights into a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that enables you to continually improve your customer perceptions, satisfaction, brand loyalty, etc.

These components can apply to large enterprises as well as Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs).

The following graphics are all sample components from the list above (A-D) that need to be put in place to enable this new CRRM Model.

New CRRM Model – 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights

 3A) The above chart “New CRRM Model – 360 Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights” demonstrates the new insights model that must be put in place to deliver world-class stakeholder and customer programs.

These enhanced insights will enable you to deliver products and services that delight your customers, stakeholders and stockholders as well as enable you to leapfrog the competition in terms of market share if they continue to rely on their antiquated CRM data and analytics insights only model. 

For Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs), some of the insights do not apply, but the following charts (3B-3E) most certainly apply and can be tracked via simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

CRRM Customer First Policies & Organizational Principles

3B) The above chart “CRRM Organizational Guiding Principles” demonstrates the principles that must be in-place to be customer first culture. This culture is driven by management that is passionate about their customers and governs the company around a set of customer first policies.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure

3C) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure” illustrates a sample structure (will vary for each type of business) whereby customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Enterprise CRRM Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process

3D) The above chart “CRRM Customer Ratings & Feedback Cultivation Process” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization

3E) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be visually represented in a scorecard. 

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Metrics

3E-2) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be rolled up into an analytical scorecard that provides insights into customer trends,  customer feedback, customer issues, core customer strengths and weaknesses, etc. 

This scorecard can also be used to manage a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that continually drives improvements to customer perceptions, ratings, satisfaction, etc. 

Sample Scorecard for “Shopping Experience”

The above depicts how analytics and metrics would be maintained for a business who had a retail or wholesale shopping function.

Sample Shopping Experience Scorecard – #2

Robust Scorecard Analytics and Metrics should support Customer Trend Identification and Root Cause Analysis for Customer Issues.

Sample Branding & Public Relations Scorecard

Sample Public Relations Scorecard Above gives you insights into how well your company and brands are perceived by customers, stakeholders, stockholders, etc.

Sample Customer Service Scorecard

Sample Customer Scorecard Above from Customer Service tells how well you are serving your customers.

Sample Marketing Scorecard

Sample Marketing Scorecard Above Gives you insights into how well your Marketing Efforts are resonating with your customers.

Sample Product Management Scorecard

The Sample Product Management Scorecard above gives you insights into how well perceived your products and services are with customers and prospects.

4) Company & Customer Benefits of Adopting the CRRM Model:

By treating customers as business partners (vs. commodities) and including them in the corporate decision making process, as well as allowing them to rate how well you are serving them from an array of customer facing areas, companies can reap huge rewards including the following:

1. Better insights into the types of products and services customers want & need

2. Fiercely loyal customers who feel part of the corporate team

3. Customers who are most likely to spend more, be retained longer and purchase at premium prices with higher profit margins

4. Customers who are very likely to be brand advocates and refer others to your company, brands, and services.

5. Customers who feel connected to the company and empowered to improve company operations

The following are actual customer comments from those who have participated in a customer feedback program to help shape products & services:

“I feel like xyz company cares about me since they ask my opinion”

“Finally a company that listens to us”

“It is so refreshing to have a company ask you your opinions on products and services vs. ramming something down our throats that we don’t like”

“Wow – this is fun. I enjoy providing my opinion”

“As silly as this might sound, xyz company is the only company that ever asked me what I wanted”

“In my opinion, xyz company is much more progressive than their competitors by seeking consumer opinions, what matters to them, etc.

 5) Conclusion:

More dynamic companies like Goodle, Zynga, Amazon, etc. are inviting customers to become part of the corporate decision making process and empowering them to provide feedback, insights and rate company operations in order to drive continous customer improvements. Companies who adopt this new CRRM model whereby company management is democratized by including stakeholders and customers into the decision making process will reap the rewards of ever higher customer acquisition, retention and spend – leading to ever higher profits and share price.

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with a more effective Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model

1)               Introduction

  1. Do you have a robust CRM program in-place, but you feel you are still missing the mark in terms of delivering what your customers really want & need?
  2. Is your organization at risk of making market decisions that can cause a backlash and mass defection by your customers like the Bank of America $5 fee decision or the Netflix business split decision?
  3. Do you have volumes of consumer data and analytics, but sales are declining or flat and customers are churning at an increasing rate?
  4. Do you feel you could improve the quantity and quality of your customer insights including ascertaining critical consumer needs, preferences, likes/dislikes, interests, preferred communication channel for you to contact them, preferred timing and frequency for you to communicate with them, etc?

If you can say “Yes” to any of these questions, the rest of this post is a MUST READ for you and it is time to consider this more effective CRRM Model to replace your outdated CRM Model.

2)               CRM vs. CRRM Model Overview

The following diagram depicts the major differences between the old CRM Model and the new CRRM Model including the problems associated with the old CRM model and benefits of the newer CRRM model.

Old CRM Model vs. Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM)

Old CRM Model (left above):

  1. Relies on historical data and analytics to determine what customers need, want, etc. by the analysis of sales history, types of products purchased, categories of products purchased, views on websites, stores visited, etc.
  2. Customer activity information is a proxy to what customers really want and need. Example, you will seldom learn that a customer hates an in-store or web experience through this proxy for what they are wanting, feeling, needing, disliking, etc.
  3. Companies are unlikely to gain insights into the impact that any future company decisions will have on customer loyalty, retention, acquisition.

New CRRM Model (right above):

  1. Takes a more direct approach with customers and utilizes a systemic querying method to ascertain exactly what customer want/need/prefer/etc.
  2. Embraces customer councils, customer forums, customer voting to drive future content, interactions, product/service offerings, etc.
  3. Activity solicits ratings from customers on many aspects (marketing materials, web experience, in-store experience, product usability, quality of customer service, etc.) regarding the health of the overall customer relationship and continually asks “How well are we managing our relationship”

3)               Example of CRM Model Gaps

To illustrate how companies are struggling to really determine the real needs of their customers, I took selected comments from interactions with senior CRM executives from major US Corporations based on consulting engagements, job interviews, speaking to them in passing, etc. The following charts are their actual verbatim comments as well as my read on their CRM gap that prevents them from developing world-class relationships with their customers.

Traditional CRM Programs:

  1. Organizational culture, operations, and go-to-market strategy does not put the customer and real customer insights into the center of CRM operations
  2. Relies on data, analytics, and customer history to drive on-going customer interactions.
  3. Puts the organization at extreme risk of missing the boat from a customer’s perspective – real needs, wants, concerns, preferences, experiences, etc.
  4. Companies that rely on this model are at-risk of customer defections, decreased customer spend/loyalty, etc.

New CRRM Model – with Customers In The Center of Customer Operations

New CRRM Program:

  1. The organizational culture, operations, and go-to-market strategy puts the customer and real customer insights into the center of CRM operations rather than rely on the proxies of what customers want, i.e. data, analytics, and customer history.
  2. The customer becomes the actual judge, ‘rater’ of whether you are delivering quality, value and a good relationship to them.
  3. The customer is put in charge of CRM operations and enables a bi-directional and on-going dialog with the customer whereby they tell you their real needs, wants, concerns, preferences, experiences, etc.
  4. Companies that rely on this model are more likely to develop products, services, offers, communications that delight the customer and whereby they are more loyal, greater brand advocates, and likely to refer your company to their friends as a company who listens, cares and empowers their customers.

6)             Companies That ‘Get ‘CRRM

The following are samples of companies that, in my opinion, get the CRRM model and details how/why each of them get this new go-to-market customer model.

Companies That ‘Get’ CRRM – 1 of 2

Companies That Get CRRM – 2 of 2

Phrases That Describe Companies who ‘Get’ the New CRRM Model

  1. We don’t hide behind data and analytics to drive our customer & CRM operations, but rather we ask our customers what they want.
  2. We are eager to ask our most disgruntled customers how we can improve our relationship with them and to determine who to improve our go-to-market strategy
  3. Before we make any major market-facing decisions, we ask a cross-segment of our customers what they think about each of our proposed decisions and then ask them how to improve upon how these changes are implemented so we ensure a continued delighted customer base.

The bottom line of this post is that, if your company relies less on historical data and analytics to determine what customer want and actually builds methods, processes, and systems to put the customer in charge of rating CRM operations in order to provide you with ongoing and valuable real insights (needs, wants, likes dislikes, preferences, concerns, etc.), the customers will feel more valued and connected with your brands. The benefit of adopting this new CRRM model will be more loyal, empowered and delighted customers who will be brand advocates and brand referrers that will increase shareholder and company value.

As I have now built this new CRRM model for several major US brands, my next blog post will be on ‘how to’ develop this capability at the enterprise level.

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