Monday, September 26, 2011

Curt Carlson On Customer Experience

In this new series of posts, we are joined by guest blogger Curt Carlson, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Management – TNS North America. Curt is in the TNS North America Customer Experience Management (CXM) Area of Expertise. In this role, he is responsible for supporting strategy development and Customer Experience – related business, which includes Customer Loyalty, Employee Engagement and Corporate Reputation. In the 20+ years that Curt has spent in Customer Experience-related research, he has also held senior positions at Walker Information, J.D. Power and Associates, and Ipsos Loyalty. Curt received his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Iowa, and his M.A. and Ph.D. (Experimental Psychology) from Kent State University. Curt has also presented at many US and International conferences and workshops including those sponsored by The Conference Board and EFQM, as well as by numerous clients. He is also a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA).

Hi. I’m Curt Carlson and welcome to my blog, which will lead up to the NACCM conference. It is my hope that this will stimulate some ideas that you can discuss with others at the meeting.

Why am I doing this? I love the customer experience arena. After over 20 years of helping some of the greatest companies in the world with their customer experience programs, I like to think of the good we as practitioners bring: customers have a better experience, clients make more profit, as does my employer, and I earn a living. So what’s the problem…if there is one?

Customer Experience Management (CXM) isn’t working for most companies today. Every company will eventually begin to notice a lack of improvement in customer experience performance metrics that goes on and on. Moreover, they also see few if any strategic insights coming from a program that touches most of their customers and costs six or seven figures. Why?

Let’s start with the flat-line problem. We’ve seen this in all sectors…Tech, Telecom, Financial Services, Retail, to name a few. Everyone’s head nods in agreement when I bring this up in front of large audiences. The critical business issues are that over time, customer experience management programs 1) do not inform change management, and 2) do not contribute to profitable growth. The scary thing for both suppliers and clients is that eventually their relationship will end because of these issues. And like a divorce, it is painful and expensive for both sides.

The lack of strategic information should be no surprise. Programs that measure relationships report the same key drivers over and over; new insights stop in Year Two or Three. Transaction surveys are short, limited to a single touch-point, and intended for Ops management. Over time, however, that’s not good enough for executives who need more value from these programs to impact their company growth. As a transportation company exec once told me, “I’m spending seven figures on my study and not getting any strategic value from it…what can you do?”

The good news is that the problem lies not with the programs, but with us. Practitioners, both client side and supplier side, have a bad case of tunnel vision. Over the next three blogs, I’ll be talking about these programs in more comprehensive (I refuse to say “holistic”) ways. These wider perspectives will begin to reveal how companies can unlock the inherent tactical and strategic value of their CXM programs.

Join this community…Share your stories about how your customer experience programs have worked for you over time in the comments.

If you enjoyed this post, meet Curt next week, Oct 3rd to 5th, at the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit in Arizona, or join TNS this November at NACCM for a session on Best-in-class Customer Experience Management.

To learn more about NACCM,
click here. To register, click here. Readers of the Customer's 1st blog can save 15% off the standard registration rate with code NACCMBlog.

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