How are organizations reviewing their organization to take
the shift in the Customer Experience?
Uber revolutionizes the taxi market by offering a simple bottle of water to its customers, the SNCF transforms the waiting time into a privileged moment and sharing thanks to the pianos in the station, Apple gives its customers the feeling of belonging to a very closed club through its Genius Bar, Nespresso accelerates the checkout by displaying, in a single operation, the price of the contents of a basket of products, Tesla jostles the automotive sector by offering a high-end, electric and connected vehicle.
Technological breakthroughs or the birth of new business models via digital technology are transforming previously established industries. The interactions between the customer and a brand are multiplying, which gives the opportunity to the consumer to be several times satisfied or disappointed throughout the customer journey.
However, the introduction of a customer culture still too often comes up against internal obstacles linked to the existence of organizational silos. Are companies ready to make these transformations necessary to review organizations and turn them towards the customer?
1. The customer experience: a strategic topic for the management of companies
The customer experience integrates all the feelings a customer feels during interactions with a brand or company – physical or dematerialized. It concerns as well the journey before the purchase (search for information on products, services, tariffs), as during the purchase (contact with the sales consultant, explanation of the conditions of purchase, delivery of the product), as well than after-sales (maintenance, purchase of complementary products, long-term relationship between the customer and the brand).
Figure 1: The customer experience focuses the “multichannel” and “multi-business” interactions of a brand with its customers
The customer experience takes into account the “multichannel” and “multi-business” dimension, but also that related to the consumer’s affect and perception beyond the mere satisfaction of the product. The customer experience is part of a context where digitization has completely transformed the relationship between consumers and businesses.
The direct consequence of the digitization of the purchasing path is an evolution of the behavior of the customers and their expectations. The customer has at his disposal a mass of information available – price comparison, forum, consumer opinion, product ranking … – he is better informed and prepares his purchase well before going to a physical point of sale.
These multiple interactions, both physical and dematerialized, must involve all the business lines (sales network, call-center, website, CRM strategy, etc.). The key words are fluidity, ease and customization. This is clearly identified in the FXI’s latest report: “Experiences on the different channels blend together from a customer perspective like never before. Consumers no longer differentiate their online, in-store or mobile journeys, they now see these channels as different ways to get in touch with the same company. “Channels become confused especially as they are sometimes used simultaneously: “Half (51%) of mobile and web shoppers use their smartphone while in a shop – often to compare prices or get more information on the products “.
Providing a good product is no longer enough. To propose a global approach integrating the different channels and to allow a homogeneous and coherent experience is essential. Companies are now starting a “customer centric” shift, which is not without impact on their internal organization and functioning.
2. The seven golden rules to put the customer at the heart of the business
Amazon has become the benchmark in customer experience. By displaying reduced delivery times or a huge amount of offers, the Internet giant has imposed a new standard, which is now aligned companies, all sectors combined, forced to change practices sometimes disconnected from customer expectations. The consumer has raised his level of demand throughout the course. What was tolerable yesterday is no longer acceptable today.
Rule # 1: Starting from the client …
Be at the customer’s service ! The customer judges the brand through his lived experiences and assesses the gap with the initial promise. This plays a vital role in the construction of the brand image. Always connected, it uses the many tools available to it: computer, mobile, tablet … The boundaries between e-commerce and physical point of sale disappear.
To achieve a seamless Customer Experience, the company must diagnose the existing by simply putting itself in its place! We must segment the stages of his journey, map the existing interactions in each of them, describe the intensity of the emotions felt by the client at different times of the journey: what is important for him and how do you judge? he marks it on these criteria?
The brand must acquire means to capture the customer’s expectations, understand his feelings and measure his satisfaction by relying on surveys or focus groups. Improving the Customer Experience means targeting the moments of the journey where expectations are high, identifying areas of progress to launch new initiatives. This diagnosis will make it possible to establish an exhaustive statement of the strengths and weaknesses of the brand compared to the expectations of the customer at the various points of contact of the course.
Rule # 2: … to reach the customer
Brands must adapt to these new uses by offering their customers a complementary physical and digital environment. Price, information, fluidity of the journey, personalization of the relationship, coherence of the speech, continuity of the experience. Interfaces with the customer must therefore be structured in a dynamic and interactive way, whether on the Internet, in sales outlets, face-to-face, on the telephone or during events in order to ensure a homogeneous experience in the field. time and space.
Virtual show rooms, dedicated call-centers and personalization of loyalty devices are examples of offthe-shelf services offered by brands to enhance the customer experience and stand out from the competition. Big Data will better reflect customer preferences and track purchases. The knowledge of the customer improves which allows to propose personalized offers. For example, Marionnaud uses its CRM to launch promotional offers based on the anniversary date, the number of loyalty points or shopping habits.
Rule # 3: Rethink the organization of the company
Having a unified view of the customer along the way is sometimes not very compatible with the organization in silos of a large number of companies, used to considering the client from the angle of each function and not as the major transverse subject. To drive a real transformation, the customer must be placed at the heart of the business.
The points of contact must be rethought in their entirety, in their chronology and their complementarity in order not to fragment their course. This is the challenge of the fluidity of the experience between the different channels. In terms of organization, the creation of a dedicated department – or at least the appointment of an identified subject owner – in contact with other entities of the company is a very effective way to initiate a deep and lasting change.
This management becomes the guarantor of the homogeneity of the points of contact of each entity (digital, call center, network of physical outlets). It must infuse a common client strategy with the various businesses, whose objectives and performance indicators are often different, even sometimes contradictory.
Rule # 4: Associate Employees in the company’s approach
Employee engagement is key: they are the brand’s representatives and the company’s special contacts with the customer. FXI research shows that employee engagement is correlated with customer satisfaction.
Figure 2: Customer Experience and Employee Engagement
To engage employees in a customeroriented approach, the changes are profound and time consuming.
The training of salesmen or store advisers must integrate the behavioral dimension and give a more complete view to the salesman of what his relationship with the customer should be – more relational, than commercially aggressive.
The goal is to make the point of sale a place of relationship and services, in which the salesman plays the role of expert consultant turned to support and personalized service.
In an Apple Store, salespeople are trained to deliver an experience to their customers by providing them with expertise. At Décathlon, salespeople are first and foremost passionate and convey their own enthusiasm to their customers.
Rule # 5: Establish an incentive remuneration policy
How to make sellers and managers aware of the quality of service if their variable remuneration is solely related to sales volume objectives? Incentives must be rethought, new indicators must be integrated into the remuneration, taking into account in particular the quality of the service and the customer satisfaction beyond the product.
The salaries of the sales force are thus indexed both to the achievement of objectives defined in terms of volume and to customer satisfaction criteria.
Rule # 6: Benefit from high level sponsorship
A customer experience improvement program must have high level sponsorship, otherwise it is doomed to failure. The adherence of the top management makes it possible to launch the investments and instill the dynamics necessary to develop a culture of the customer It will be supported by a dedicated organization with human and budgetary means. An internal communication will mobilize the members of the company in the process – from salesmen and advisers to management teams and business departments – to initiate a real change in the company culture.
Rule # 7: Rely on strong management involvement
The Customer Experience is not always considered as a strategic subject, its benefits are often difficult to evaluate and sometimes not very visible in the short term. It must establish its credibility on experienced management strongly involved in the implementation of concrete actions.
Dedicated bodies, regular steering committees are essential to put it in a logic of business transformation.
3. Return on investment difficult to quantify but tangible in the medium term
The difficulty of attributing a visible and precise return on investment can weaken the process and call it into question. Indeed, investments in this area are immaterial and we do not measure the immediate impact on sales. Without ROI identified for Customer Experience programs, companies will be reluctant to allocate a specific budget. Matching the ROI to a Customer Experience program will give credibility to the initiatives.On the other hand, companies that have implemented such a program have seen their NPS improve.
The benefits are revealed in the medium term. Improving loyalty increases the average revenue generated per customer. A satisfied customer will tend to spend more with the same brand inducing a higher average basket. Conversely, a disappointed customer is very difficult and expensive to win back. Reducing customers’ disinterest in a brand both limits the cost of CRM campaigns while extending the customer’s “lifetime” and therefore its long-term purchasing potential.
With a high quality and highly personalized customer experience, the customer can even become a brand ambassador and encourage his entourage to acquire his goods and services. These recommendations – requiring no additional cost – are the most popular and appreciated by consumers. On many websites such as those of Darty, Booking, lafourchette.com or more confidential that of lesnumeriques.com for hi-tech products, each consumer has the opportunity to view the opinions that will influence his act of purchase. He can thus form an informed opinion on the products and services offered.
4. A five-step approach to improving the customer experience
If the changes to be made are important, the previous rules lead to a simple and logical approach.
Beyond the product-specific considerations, it is the customer experience that determines on the one hand the level of loyalty and loyalty of customers to a brand, on the other hand the arguments of conquering new customer segments.
The resulting volume increase perspective is therefore necessarily attractive even if the ROI is not always easy to measure immediately.
Focusing on improving the customer experience means investing in the future by working on both loyalty and conquest, in a perspective of positive competitive differentiation. Bringing the customer culture into a business requires multiple, deep, and sometimes long organizational and cultural changes. The creation of a dedicated department or at least the establishment of a clear responsibility, the search for expertise and means are essential for achieving sustainable results.
Pagamon, consulting firm in Strategy & Organization founded in March 2013, assists industry players to structure their strategic vision, improve the operational performance of their business and sustain change in organizations.
We help clients within the automotive industry, agri-food, life sciences and several other industries . Our areas of expertise are:
- Strategy & Organization
- Marketing & Customer Experience
- Innovation & Development
- Digital transformation & Big Data