As the world continues to navigate COVID-19, organizations must consider how they can build and maintain customer loyalty now and into the future. They should begin with one main ingredient — one that many aren’t fully leveraging, argues Blake Morgan, customer experience futurist and two-time best-selling author. That ingredient is the simple and sincere desire to makes their customers’ lives easier and better. Laying this foundational mindset fosters a positive and sustainable customer experience (CX) throughout entire organizations, ultimately driving revenue growth.
Having read Blake’s most recent book, The Customer of the Future, myself, it came as no surprise to me that Business Insider recognized it as one of the top 20 books executives are reading to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. We invited her to join us for our webinar, The Road to Loyalty – Strategies for Delivering Connected Customer Journeys. After listening to Blake’s insights — and a portion of her Spotify playlist — here are some of my takeaways on how organizations can move their CX forward.
1. A customer-focused mindset is essential — from the top down
Blake has personally spoken with many business leaders at today’s leading companies. One thing that has struck her is how the best leaders practically obsess over their CX. This includes detailing their target customer far past typical demographics and paying attention to granular CX metrics like call center wait times.
When leaders care deeply about CX, they empower the rest of their organization to care too. They lead the charge to break down silos and spearhead training programs that develop CX champions at all levels. In Blake’s words, they “measure what they treasure” — and what an organization should treasure above typical agent productivity metrics is the level of customer satisfaction it’s able to produce. So, it’s important to empower your frontline contact center agents to go above and beyond in creating positive, memorable and helpful experiences during every step of the customer journey.
2. To produce a great CX, company leaders must be great listeners
It’s one thing to talk about great CX. But to drive results, you need to start by listening. Listen to your customer-facing employees. Listen to your customers. Listen to call recordings. In fact, Blake noted during our webinar discussion that the best leaders she’s interviewed often kicked off their efforts with a listening tour, in some cases a multi-month listening tour. They learned the ins and outs of their customers’ day-to-day lives — their worries, their woes and their wins. And they asked the heads of various business groups as well as employees at every level for insight about where there was the most customer friction. Without listening, these leaders simply could not get a real and full picture of their companies’ CX.
3. Companies that fared best — even grew — during the pandemic had already been focusing their technology efforts on delivering outstanding CX
These companies were ahead of the digital transformation curve. Many had been using intelligent data analytics and were more advanced at personalization. Because these organizations had already built the mindset and habits of solving traditional customer problems with technology, they were better poised to find strong technical solutions to issues posed by the pandemic. One beauty care retailer, for example, had already been using advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR) with their app, effectively marrying the offline and online customer experience. This bolstered their CX compared to competitors, especially at a time when most customers were opting to stay home and shop for beauty products online rather than instore.
4. The future is personalized
One area in which you must apply technical prowess is personalization. “Create an experience that your customer will go bananas for,” says Blake, noting that customers are already getting accustomed to stellar personalized experiences — think Hulu, Amazon and Spotify. In fact, Blake referenced Spotify’s use of AI machine learning to curate uniquely personalized playlists, including a feature that creates a time capsule playlist based on your age and preferences. “Think about how happy we feel when we actually get an experience where someone was listening. Someone was paying attention. This feels great,” says Blake. When you can anticipate your customers’ needs and deliver what they enjoy, you’re on the path toward nurturing long-term loyalty. What would that look like for your brand?
5. CX requires a holistic approach
To create and act from a single view of the customer, we can’t keep working in siloes. Formerly disparate teams need to consistently collaborate. They must share data, compare notes and work toward the same set of performance metrics. Why? Because customers too often get a disjointed experience based largely on the way organizations operate internally. Delivering a seamless, horizontal CX with less friction requires leaders to reconsider how they organize their talent and their efforts to enable the end goal of great CX.
As you move forward, remember that the pandemic has elevated the critical role service plays in the customer journey. For more of Blake’s insights, including illustrative real-world examples of topnotch CX delivery and her thoughts on how to take your first steps toward improving CX, watch the recording of our webinar.
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