So now that you know the difference between customer service and customer experience from Logan’s blog, “CX, Everybody’s Having It,” I’m going to tell you a little about what we are doing in the customer experience realm.
Over the past two years, we have made increased efforts to focus on our customers. In 2016, that looked like a focus on customer service - providing timely responses to client questions or requests, delivering results, etc. It was all basic stuff for any business. But we knew there was something missing.
In Q4 of last year, we decided to make a full pivot to focus on the customer-first, so we met with CX Pilots to determine where to start. After a 4 hour workshop with our team, we had identified our CX vision, goals, challenges, and began mapping out our current customer journey. This is where we talked about what our customer experience looked like in its current state, not what we wanted it to look like. It was difficult holding back our ideas for improvement throughout that process, but the goal was to identify what our customers actually experience.
After our initial meeting, we chose dedicated customer experience ambassadors from each department. Their goal: analyze all of the data we had collected over the previous year and identify the major wins and challenges that our clients had voiced.
We identified that many of our biggest strengths were also our biggest weaknesses... isn’t that how it always works? So we took that data with us to the next step of the process.
Customer Journey Mapping
The second step was to perform in-depth customer journey mapping workshops with all departments in the company. These workshops, while long, were extremely beneficial in finalizing our current state customer journey map.
We were able to see a clear view of the entire journey our clients take, from researching the web for our services, signing the contract, having annual strategy meetings, and everything in between. This global view included the varying software, objects (ie. phone, computer, snail mail), and people that our clients interact with throughout the journey, as well as everything behind the scenes.
When it was all said and done, we were able to look at the entire experience and identify the overarching themes, gaps, WOW moments, and pain points that our clients were going through.
We’ll admit, there were flaws.
A glaring example of this was a major issue with our phone system that impacted the quality of calls and meetings for our clients. It was affecting the overall experience of our clients to a degree we hadn’t realized, but thankfully it was also something reasonably easy to fix.
In going through this process, we were able to take an outside-in approach to really put ourselves in our clients’ shoes. The process brought to life the need to reorganize our journey, and in fact our organizational structure, but more about that later.
It’s All About The Numbers
Once we were done with that, we developed key performance indicators, a customer feedback plan, and a survey schedule to track our progress along the goals we identified on day one. We created 3 surveys to track the major touch points of the process and decided to track two important metrics, Customer Satisfaction, which shows how well we met customer expectations, and Net Promoter Score, which is a way of gauging customer loyalty through the likelihood of referring others our way.
We also collected feedback on a few other things directly related to possible pain points and WOW moments for our clients, this way we could track the accuracy of our customer journey insights.
Once we were into our second round of data collection for the year, we realized that even the collection process had to be tested. We sent our first set of emails in bulk from a customer experience email address. This didn’t entice our customers enough to get them to take action. So for round 2, we tested having each client’s main point of contact email them personally. Now that we have instituted the Customer Success Team, they are the ones to reach out for this data and we have seen a much better response rate ever since. There are a lot more clients than there are of us, but you know what they say - if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
And Feedback Too
When we receive feedback from our clients, our new Customer Success Team reviews each and every survey submitted, determines actions to improve that individual customer experience, and identifies if these improvements would benefit all clients - this is why we say feedback truly matters! We also map our customer trends and insights from all of our survey data to get a more global picture of success.
All Talk Here's the Action
Outside of the research and development of this initiative, what are we actually doing? Good question. We’re making a lot of efforts, but here’s where we are so far:
We Restructured Our Organization
Sounds dramatic, right? But it was necessary.
One of the common challenges we heard from our clients was the need to have one dedicated person to contact throughout their entire project. Within each project or service, no matter the industry, there will be varying people that a client interacts with; the sales representative when they initially reach out, the project manager or technician who coordinates throughout the process, the support team or manager when an issue arises, etc.
We decided to create an entirely new role and team structure dedicated to the success of our customers: the Client Success Executive (CSE) ensures clients are meeting and exceeding their business goals, receiving prompt communication and effective results, and that they are enjoying the overall experience of working with us. If there are any hiccups throughout the process, the CSE is their go-to resource for quick resolution of issues with every perspective, possibility, and goal in mind. For the client, this adds more value, a proactive approach, and quicker resolution time should an issue come up.
We’re Opening Up Communication
We saw the need to have a shared space for important information about our clients that can sometimes get lost among many forms of communication; surveys, meetings, emails, and so forth. With that, we decided to compile a communal resource for the vital information and are constantly updating and reviewing this throughout our partnerships. This allows for the team to stay on the same page at all times and it also helps to keep things from getting lost in translation. Soon enough we will be transitioning all of this information into SalesForce to provide an intelligent platform for this data.
We’re Throwing Our Clients a Bone
We work with various platforms, definitions, and technical details every day. Our clients don’t. We identified the need to educate our clients so that they could communicate with us the way they wanted and we could remove common barriers. It also made sense to make clients aware of the things done behind the scenes to help them better understand what we do, who does what, and the impact it has on their business.
We’re Loving On Our Customers
We had already been doing a few nice-to-haves, handwritten cards from the team at project start and gifts at website launch, and that was all well and good, but we wanted to take it a step further. So we set out to get to know our customers on a more personal level by creating a survey to allow clients to tell us about their families, birthdays, hobbies, and so on. We now know so much more about our clients (in some cases too much) that we would never have learned from our monthly meetings alone. This means we can provide a more personalized experience, from birthday cards to unique gifts based on their interests and hobbies.
Why Is This So Important?
Simple. We don’t want to be just any other vendor for our clients. They can get that anywhere! We want to be a part of their team - a part of their family - so that we can help them succeed.
Get To Work!
Now that we’ve spilled the beans, we hope that this will help you to develop your own customer experience plan. We still have more work to do, but this is one of those things that you have to continually tweak and improve in order to adapt to the ever-changing needs of customers. As you begin this journey there are two wonderful books we recommend for you, “Grow!” by our very own Donnie Shelton, and “Outside In” from the experts at Forrester Research. These books have helped shape our company in more ways than one!
So what are you waiting for? Get to reading and start turning those customers into family!