Whilst Customer Experience (CX) is by no means a new business discipline, the act of CX transformation is often shrouded in misconception as to the extent of what it involves. Cursory box-ticking and half measures can provide the board with a warm and fuzzy feeling that CX is being addressed - hey, it feels good to be doing something - but rarely does that approach produce the cultural change required to facilitate a fundamental transformation in the delivery of customer experience. One swallow does not a summer make.
“Quick fixes” usually unravel fairly quickly a year or so down the line when the deep-rooted and - as it turns out - unaddressed problems reoccur and the lack of cultural change is exposed. Are those staff fruit bowls, and ensuring all customers are told to "have a great day", really driving the desired competitive advantage from CX that was intended?
A true CX transformation (when looked at holistically) can seem like a mammoth task for an organisation but it’s a marathon, not a sprint – a continuous improvement process that never stops. Changes won’t happen overnight but broken down and tackled step-by-step, it can be very rewarding, which will eventually lead to a more profitable, streamlined business. Take a look at the results in our "From the IIC assessment archive" section below, the second set of charts show how one of our clients made small, continuous changes (across all areas of the business) over a steady period of time, which resulted in higher scores in their assessment and a huge increase in customer and staff satisfaction rates.
Ensuring you have an impressive CX will set you head and shoulders above your competitors, it can be a huge point of differentiation that goes beyond just product and service. Often, in industries where there is a homogeneous product, the easy option is to differentiate on price. Slash the price and the sales will increase, this may lead to a short-term spike in sales but it's a race to the bottom and not a long-term solution for running a successful business. Research tells us that price is no longer a determining factor in the customer decision making process, 86% of customers are now willing to pay more for a great customer experience and it is estimated that by 2020 customer experience will become the key brand differentiator.
Embracing CX fully means adopting a customer-centric business model. It often requires a cultural shift, a change in mindset, one where the customer is at the heart of everything every employee does. It must have senior management buy-in and be led and supported from the top down - every decision across every department (whether strategic or tactical) should be made with the customer in mind. To enable customer focused business decisions, insights are a must. A customer-centric business must really understand its customer, walk in their shoes, find out what they want and deliver it. Take a read of the article in "The one to read this week" which explains how customer insights are "the gift that keeps on giving". By making an emotional connection with customers and truly understanding them, you can deliver a compelling experience that will drive loyalty and increase lifetime value.
Finally, congratulations to Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers who achieved the IIC Gold Award with exceptional results in their latest IIC assessment.
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CX transformation must be a long-term continuous initiative; as technology and customer needs change, so must your business. Of course, we can help you identify the problematic areas in your CX, however identifying changes that need to be made is just the beginning of the journey. Actually putting cultural change in motion to better serve your customers can be extremely difficult, particularly where there is a complex business structure in place. By developing a detailed step-by-step action plan, we can help you tackle it by making small focused changes that can be closely monitored. It won't always be plain sailing but with the right people, the right tools and the right remit you will reap the rewards.
The charts below depict two of our clients' CX assessment results over 3-4 years. Client A already had a relatively successful CX in place, being awarded Silver in year 1 which is impressive. However, they tried making big, dynamic changes too quickly which resulted in an imbalance and problems in other areas of the business. The scores have marginally increased over the four year period but you can see that some areas of the business have been given more focus than others.
Client A's Net Promotor Scores® (NPS) from staff and customers also reflect this imbalance, with staff loyalty jumping around all over the place and customer loyalty decreasing as the years go by. These results show that although this organisation's CX is still good and ranked Silver, the changes they have tried to implement haven't been as successful as they envisioned. Tactical, smaller, more iterative changes could have had the desired effect over this 3 year period. More a rising tide (lifting all boats) than a storm of changes.
Client B's story is a little different, they started out with a Bronze in year 1 and gradually made small improvements to get to Silver in year 2 then in year 3 finally gaining an IIC Gold award - which is phenomenal progress. In some ways, perhaps the foundation for change was easier for this organisation; their initial scores were much lower so there was much more of a need to improve, a hunger and a receptiveness internally to change and to be better. The transformation was broken down and tackled step-by-step - smaller, incremental business-wide changes were implemented which led to a significant and consistent increase in scores across every area.
Client B's Net Promotor Scores® also reflect steady growth with customer and staff loyalty increasing as the business improved its CX. They seem to have taken on the “do 100 things, 1% better" theory at a steady and continuous rate, which doesn't show huge, immediate changes but rather steady, cumulative changes over time which is absolutely key to a long-term, successful CX.
To see full details of our assessment methodology, click the link below:
Customers are now the drivers of innovation, technology has changed the way customers behave, they are unpredictable and customer loyalty is no longer a given. The only way to provide a product and experience that customers love is to find out what they want, so that you not only attract new customers, you turn your existing ones into fans, who will advocate your brand and keep coming back for more.
"User research is the true secret weapon of a successful product. Being able to form a complete understanding of customer requirements in the context in which they might use a product is priceless. It is the gift that will keep on giving."
In our fourth and final installation of our "CX Framework" series we look at "Engendering Loyalty" - that mercurial asset that can spell the difference between exponential growth and competitive advantage, or a business that struggles to get in to its higher gears.
See all four principles and our complete CX framework here:
See all 4 principles in full detail here:
Principle 4 - Engender Loyalty
Advances in technology have led to an environment where discovering alternatives is easily done and switching between suppliers is simpler than ever before. Organisations need to work harder than ever to retain their customers and to keep them loyal through offering a consistent service that is tailored to meet their specific needs.
Every organisation thrives on repeat business, together with cross-selling and up-selling. A good experience will be the main determining factor when it comes to repeat purchase. In fact, it is often more important than the actual quality of the product or service initially bought as “how was I treated?” is a key emotion when making a buying a decision.
Willing to Recommend
The Net Promoter® methodology clearly recognises that recommendation is intrinsically linked to customer loyalty. Promoters (people who are most likely to recommend you) stay longer; spend more and make less complaints, whilst detractors are far more likely to leave but also are likely to engage you in time consuming and costly negotiations and are rarely shy in telling people about their experience.
It should be obvious that a quality relationship is a vital component of good customer experience, which is why it is surprising that this is often a low score. Quality is not just about being good it is about caring, being consistent and, most importantly, being friendly and willing to help.
The final theme in the IIC model encompasses all others – it is about the whole experience. Customer expectations are changing all the time and the bar is constantly rising. With everything from response times being quicker, to delivery schedules, or support being available and being more flexible. The best exponents of customer experience recognise that they must be reliable, consistent and continually improving.
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Congratulations to Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers whose latest assessment not only reinforces their Gold status (with significant increases in their customer scores), but also places them as the leading IIC client in Scotland.
Having first gone through the IIC process in 2015, when the company received a (then) 3-star award, the challenge was to maintain their exceptional results. Taking on board the feedback and recommendations received in 2015, Bruce Stevenson have not only maintained their exceptional IIC Gold award, but increased their scores even further - narrowly missing out on achieving the top score ever recorded in an IIC assessment.
Quotes from customers included:
- “Professional service, reliable, trustworthy and valuable.”
- “The company is knowledgeable and I believe to be very ethical in its behavior. I like the fact that the people I talk to have been there a long time, know me and my circumstances and I can trust them implicitly. They go out of their way to make things easy.
- “The people I work with in Bruce Stevenson are incredibly helpful and I know I can call upon them if I have any questions or concerns, they manage to keep up to date with the needs of their customers.”
"Bruce Stevenson continue to delight their customers, providing an exceptional service which positions them as the leading IIC assessed organisation in Scotland and in the overall top three in their sector. It is clear that the customer is at the heart of everything the business does and this is reflected in a loyal and expanding customer base which recognises and appreciates the efforts everyone at the firm makes to treat them fairly." Tony Barritt, Managing Director, IIC
1. Follow this link to our CX perception survey. Or scan the QR code with your smartphone.
2. Fill out the short questionnaire (your perception of your organisation).
3. Receive your perception benchmark (based on everyone who has filled out the questionnaire). We will update you as more data becomes available, so you can see how you're doing against an ever-growing data-set.