A recent incident in which a customer was dragged off an aircraft operated by one of the largest airlines in the world reminds us of why we must be so diligent about truly understanding the customer experience we create. It is also a stark reminder that any negative experience with your brand can instantly go viral on social media and result in a major firestorm for your company.
The total cost of this incident is still being tabulated, but we know that the airline has lost huge sums in the stock market, suffered significant damage to its brand and lost revenue from passengers who chose another airline after seeing the viral video.
The primary reason for this recent failure is all too common, and one that many organizations continue to make: they maintain and build processes, procedures and policies designed from the company’s perspective without adequate and honest thought from the customer’s point of view.
Of course, none of us believe that our companies would ever do anything so egregious when it comes to customers. However, we do put “roadblocks” in front of our customers that create a less than positive experience for them. These may not be at the scale as occurred with this airline, but they occur at critical moments of truth for your customers when they are determining if they want to continue doing business with your company. So, the question is, “are you setting your organization up to experience a similar fate as this airline company?”
One point about rules. When did we think that companies in the customer service business could prescribe rules for every situation? In the age of the consumer, is it even possible to anticipate every scenario and then provide a strict set of rules for employees to follow? Perhaps companies could provide employees with a rough framework for how to deal with customers (some would call this the essence of a corporate culture) and trust them to do the right thing for their customers. Humans are uniquely capable of empathy and creativity. It will be a long time before rigid rules and even artificial intelligence will master this unique set of human capabilities.
Fortunately for business, most customer service and communications failures will not result in an overnight loss of $250 million in stock valuation, but what has a failed customer experience or policy cost you when repeated thousands of times? Industry research estimates that companies lose $62 billion each year due to poor customer service. And, 89% of customers have indicated that they have already switch brands because of a bad customer experience.
The policies and procedures that we see as minor inconveniences imposed on customers are driving them to competitors and costing billions of dollars in revenue. If you aren’t committed to improvement, rest assured that your competitors are exploiting your weaknesses, as 72% of businesses indicate that CX improvement is now their #1 priority.
So, be it a thousand paper cuts or a seminal event like this airline’s, failure to live up to your customers’ expectations is going to cost you both revenue and brand loyalty.
I get it, no one likes to hear about their own imperfections and opportunities, and no one likes to spend money and go through demanding re-engineering and introspection exercises. But, industry studies also tell us that 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience. Combine that with the possible financial loss of a highly visible CX debacle and the decision seems clear.
Not every organization will have glaring policy gaps with the potential to physically injure a customer, but most interactions customers have with companies leave significant room for improvement.
Is your organization guilty of any of these?
- Product performance issues
- Customer service requiring the customer to repeat information across channels and representatives
- Fine print warranty and return policy restrictions
- Unnecessarily cumbersome self-service solutions
- Mobile apps that add minimal value
Building an effective Customer Experience program begins with Executive Sponsorship and requires involvement from many functional areas.
Signs that your CX approach has opportunities for improvement include:
- Marketing, Sales and Service are not regularly collaborating and measuring end-to-end results
- Content marketing is not personalized
- Limited visibility into touchpoints occurring outside of your immediate span of control (e.g. multi-manufacturer retailer, third party distribution, etc.)
- Internal teams are not aligned with company’s Mission, Vision and Strategy for desired Customer Experience
- Detailed data from each interaction level as opposed to aligned toward higher level measures such as outcome-to-interaction ratios, customer success and customer affinity.
- Business ownership of CRM is departmental (Marketing, Sales, Service) rather than strategically, enterprise-driven.
- Your organization does not have a CX Index
- Customers cannot seamlessly transition from channel to channel – lack consistent, efficient and personalized experience across stages and channels
- No clearly defined, optimal Customer Journey and no real-time, 360-degree view of the customer is available to all employees
- Your CX strategy and programs are not substantively different year-to-year
- Voice-of-the-Customer scores do not align with internal Quality scores
Recent examples should inspire you to take a concerted and sustained look at the experience you are delivering, from your customers’ point of view. Examine the experience across the entire lifecycle, evaluate every potential touchpoint and understand your customers at both the persona and individual level. Then, ensure you have the requisite measurements to understand the experience you are delivering, as it compares to your customers’ expectations, and commit adequate resources to a system of continuous improvement. Understand that today’s customer experience must deliver customer empowerment. Companies that have already made this commitment and are considered CX leaders outperform the S&P by 35 percentage points.
Don’t let your organization be the next poster child for horrible customer experience. Diligent examination of the entire customer lifecycle, including processes, policies, tools, technologies and people is no small task. Cimphoni has the experts to guide you through this process uncovering risk, driving efficiencies and delivering value in alignment with your customers’ expectations. Our resources bring expertise and fresh perspectives on systems and processes that have been internally built and developed over the years…and like many companies’ legacy designs, often miss the forest through the trees.