Customer Experience (CX) Five New Kids on the Block

In this article Congruence MD Paul du Toit discusses five CX drivers that are edging to the top of the customer priority list and why they matter now.

Positive customer experiences are driven by great products or services supported by efficient systems and service excellence. These are not the exclusive domain of powerful brands – SME’s being manoeuvrable are ideally placed to create exceptional CX. Just as the mystical qualities of great leadership make it seemingly elusive to many and tough to bottle – so it is with customer experience. It’s intangible, meaning that it is felt rather than seen.

People are also driven by intangibles – their priorities and their habits. Our responses are largely instinctive, changing over time often without us realising it. That’s why organisations are found rubbing their proverbial heads anxiously every now and then when stuff that used to work out no longer does. What used to do the trick was trust, reliability, responsiveness and follow through. These will always remain important. But customer priorities are being reshuffled in favour of consistency, efficiency, adaptability, speed and ease (use the acronym CEASE to remember all 5).

Consistency – a promise fulfilled once translates into proof, setting future expectations or benchmarks. When competing in a crowded market consistency becomes a significant differentiator. It’s expected that your systems work – but do your people support the brand promise too? How do they respond when there are glitches in the system or when other things go wrong? When the label says the loaf of bread is 300g – is that what it really weighs? People like to know in advance what experience they are likely to have with your brand, this time and next time. It’s always been important – now it’s expected.

Efficiency – the days of slow computing are over for most, and that goes for slow almost everything. The market expects that systems can handle sales processes. Whereas in years gone by you may have been given another chance, now you’re one click away from goodbye. So your systems should be checked and tested prior to going live and must be maintained with an eagle eye. Your processes must remain silky smooth, and your people should be on standby if there’s even the possibility that human intervention can save the day.

Adaptability – some of the world’s most trusted brands have died because they failed to read or correctly time emerging trends. From transacting on a smart phone rather than a computer to storing photos digitally or delivering training virtually – change is driven by market demand, digitisation, competition, civil unrest and pandemics. Change is also driven by technology innovation. Identifying trends at an emerging stage ensures that your brand keeps its fans as their needs evolve.

Speed – response times continue to shorten, promoting speed into the priority cluster. This is driven by millennials and their kids who can’t imagine having to wait a week for a letter to be delivered (remember airmail?) let alone 12 minutes to steam the veggies. If it’s general knowledge that your competitor can deliver significantly quicker than you can – you have an addressable problem.

Ease – town shopping moved to mall shopping and then to smart phones. Soon it will migrate from your smart watch to your ear-set powered by thought commands. You just need to be at home when the deliveries arrive unless your virtual refrigerator is in the cloud. Because customers expect systems to be intuitively set up and work efficiently the focus now shifts to the response when they don’t. The problem of quick and easy access to human help remains an opportunity that call centres are still grappling with. Companies that respond well to the question “how are you making it easy for me to do business with you?” are the ones we’ll be seeing more of in the future.

Trust (#6 – a long term standard) is established over time, based on products being reliable and doing the job, but duly cemented by efficient help being available when needed. Even if serious problems occur, trust is maintained merely by an adequate response. Trust will always remain high on the list – it’s the foundation of service.

Organisations hoping to emerge from Covid-19 with only minor injuries will do well to prioritise the 5 new kids on the block. They’ve been around awhile, now they’re almost grown up and are flexing their muscles. Remember that they’re intangibles. You need to keep inviting them to the table and make them part of the conversation. You should keep an eye on them so they don’t emerge from the dark shadows and surprise you – because by then it could be too late!

Congruence Training has been in the customer interface and CX space since 1996 delivering empowerment processes to many thousands of people. Their experience and methodologies have streamlined customer interfaces creating problem resolution processes for numerous clients for over 2 decades. This article combines research (The Walker report); interaction with clients, delegates and service providers; and thought leadership.

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