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/

Developing an Enterprise Level Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Strategy & Road-map

Enterprise CRM Strategy Development Framework

Enterprise Customer & CRM Strategy Development Framework

The chart above is a framework I have used to guide the development and future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. This framework is comprised of the following major components that must be taken into account in developing a customer strategy & roadmap (from bottom to top) :

  1. Major customer segments that exist comprise the foundation of the framework. These need to be taken into consideration as the major customer stakeholders that either are in place, or need to be defined as part of the future-state strategy.

  2. The customer channel content that exists and will be needed moving forward once the major customer segments have been determined.

  3. The partner matrix and partner relationship model that exists and will be needed – types of partners, partner distribution model, partner communications methods, partner acquisition model, etc.

  4. The current and future customer touch-points specifications – usage, volume, delivery method, cost structure, etc.

  5. Major customer, partner and market insights that exist and that are needed in the future.

  6. The current and needed future state model for customer facing operations and capabilities that exist within each functional area.

  7. The existing and future engagement model that will operate through the customer channels, utilizing the information/insights and channel and customer specific content, etc. – cost structure, automation, key strategies in each (sell in service, one and done customer service, etc.)

  8. Finally the top of the pyramid, the customer and CRM strategy that drives all other structure capabilities and operating models as defined through a series of workshops shown later in this article.

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High Level Enterprise CRM Transformation Approach

The chart above is a depiction of the transformation approach I have used to guide the development of the actual CRM strategy shown on the top of the pyramid from the last chart. In this chart we have the following:

  1. Left side, “Synthesize Insights” – Depicts sample insights that need to be gathered and synthesized on the left in order to determine a realistic future state customer strategy and roadmap.

  2. Top, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The delivery, governance and oversight structures that must oversee and manage the delivery of a final customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap.

  3. Middle, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The major program phases in the delivery of the future state customer strategy and roadmap as well as the major goals and deliverables from each phase.

  4. Right side, under “Net Positive Impact” – The major positive impacts from the development of a customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap stated in both quantitative measures (via a business case) and qualitative dimensions.

 

CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to assess the CRM (future-state) opportunities at a large multi-national company. While I start with this CRM process flow to accelerate the delivery of a customer strategy and roadmap, each is tailored to each client situation and set of requirements. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Opportunity Assessment Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders whereby many of the components listed in the above flowchart are actually defined.

 “To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

“To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

The chart above details a small sample of the steps details that exist within the “CRM Opportunity Assessment” processes step. In this particular example, we must define the major customer strategies we want moving forward as well as the supporting details to successfully deliver the strategy:

  1. Performance metrics that will be put in place to monitor the success of the overall program once the customer/CRM strategy is implemented

  2. Budget & governance structure that will manage both the implementation of the strategy as well its ongoing operation of the program

  3. Program success criteria for the strategy to be considered a success

  4. Specific programs and projects to deliver the strategy

  5. The stated strategic goals for each defined customer strategy

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to develop a future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. I full project plan that includes task dependencies, project critical path, logical sequencing of project tasks, resourcing plan, etc. accompanies the above chart during an actual client project. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Definition Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders that provide direct input into the future-state CRM strategy & road-map.

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

The chart above highlights the details associated with developing the specific and measurable objectives for a future state CRM & customer strategy. These details are highly variable and need to be tailored based on the specifics associated with the client’s market & requirements, budget, competition, market/customer gaps, etc.

This is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, 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 160,000 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/

 

Win a Customer for Life by Employing the 5 R’s of Customer Loyalty

 

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The 5 “R’s” of Customer Loyalty

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Ensure Your Company is 5 “R” Customer Compliant

Following the 5 R’s of Customer Loyalty Will Enable Your Company to Attract and Keep Customers for Life

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Reliable

 

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Top Steps to Ensuring Your Company is R-Reliable

The First “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Setting High Quality Customer Standards (External) and Goals (Internal) and then Delivering on that Customer Promise for Each and Every Customer Interaction as well as the overall & long-term customer relationship

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Reliability

 

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Reliability (continued)

 

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Responsive

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Responsive

 

The 2nd “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Customer’s Expectations Are Met: Needs, Concerns, Quality, Cycle Time Expectations, etc.

 

Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness

Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Responsiveness (continued)

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Recognizable

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Recognizable

The 3rd “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company has Distinctive and Positive Characteristics such that it drives positive emotions (driving repeat business, customer referrals, word-of-mouth adverting, etc. 

 

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Example of How a Company Becomes Customer R-Recognizable

 

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Example of How a Company Becomes Customer R-Recognizable (continued)

 

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Ensure Your Company is R-Relationship Oriented

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Relationship Oriented

The 4th “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company develops a high quality and mutually beneficial relationship with your customers based on mutual respect, customer insights, an ongoing and open dialogue and a model that encourages a partnership between your brand & company and your customers 

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates That It Is Customer R-Relationship Oriented

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates That It Is Customer R-Relationship Oriented (continued)

 

 

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Ensure Your Company is Customer R-Rewarding

 

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Top Steps for Your Company to Become Customer R-Rewarding

The 5th “R” of Customer Loyalty Is Ensuring That Your Brand and Company rewards mutually beneficial customer behavior (greater share of wallet, spend, brand partnership activities, etc.) such that it drives further and longer-term customer loyalty.

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Rewarding

 

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Example of How a Company Demonstrates Customer R-Rewarding (continued)

 

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Is Your Company Ready to Take the 5 “R” Pledge?

SUMMARY: If you take the pledge above to adhere to the 5 R’s of customer loyalty, you will enhance your ability to attract and retain customers for life. Key to this is developing the capabilities to be best in class for each “R” and ensuring that you are (cost effectively) maintaining a major qualitative advantage in each customer R vs. your competitors.

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