Monday, October 3, 2011

Curt Carlson on Customer Experience: #2: Customer Experience Management – We forgot about the customer

In this new series of posts, we are joined by guest blogger Curt Carlson, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Management – TNS North America. Read the full series here.

Hi! I’m back with the second of four blogs leading up to the NACCM conference. In my last post, I talked about the fact that Customer Experience Management (CXM) programs just aren’t working well for most companies today. Flat results and lack of new insights are causing executives to rethink their programs. I attributed this to limited perspectives…a type of tunnel vision that in turn limits practitioners’ abilities to help drive customer experience improvement and the profitable growth that would accompany it. Correcting this defective perspective requires a significant change in how we think about traditional CSAT programs. Not only are such programs not customer-centric, they actually have relatively little to do with the customer.

Santayana’s advice about not forgetting the past suggests a good place to start. CXM can trace its roots back to the Quality era. It started with a focus on process improvement and all these years later is still doing the same thing. (Look at your company’s most recent CSAT survey if you don’t believe me.) While 30 years of focus on process improvement has vastly improved customer experience in terms of product and service quality, the lack of further gains shows it has taken us as far as it can.

All this focus on process improvement is causing us to forget about the customer. What matters is not what process area has the greatest impact on the customer base; it’s about which customers (that is, real people) are most impacted by which processes. Once we understand that it’s about individual customer needs, we start to gain new, wider perspectives. Let’s apply this thinking to some current issues: flat scores and the same ol’ key drivers.

Functional key driver priorities, such as customer service, product quality, and billing, are analyzed and ranked based on the ability of processes (and their attributes) to improve overall customer experience. As we have all learned, they don’t change much over time unless there’s some disruption. Consider, however, that each of the process drivers is the #1 key driver for some subset of customers. Real example… We know that for mobile carriers, Coverage is often the primary driver of satisfaction. However, we have learned that for some customers, Coverage not a key driver, but the Data Plan Offer is. Profiling customers in terms of demographics, products, usage, and spend can provide the additional information necessary to identify which customers are impacted most by which drivers. Your current program is stuck in part because you have been uniformly optimizing experience across your customer base. When you take it to the customer level you have the potential to differentially maximize it, further driving profitable growth.

So this is all about recognizing and understanding the differences among customers. Customers are not all the same; they have different needs. A nice analytical trick, you say, but what strategic potential in Customer Experience studies is unlocked? Top of mind… How about increasing share of spend? Improving competitive position? Increasing the value of the customer database? Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing spend? Building ROI into CXM? All this and more become possible. But how do you turn potential into reality?

Until next time…Please share your experiences in trying to get more from your current CXM program. What worked? What didn’t?

If you enjoyed this post, meet Curt this 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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