With the age of the empowered customer upon us, businesses face greater pressure to set themselves apart from the pack. Similar to online consumers, businesses have higher – and increasing – expectations from their solution providers. They expect systems that provide an intuitive and effortless experience. They expect insight into their personal preferences. They expect a spectrum of choices from self-service options to “white glove” premium customer support offerings. Given these increased expectations, the customer experience has become a critical focus area for businesses. In an earlier Salesforce blog post, I talked about the importance of identifying your company’s core values to build a culture focused on a “customer first” mindset. The right core values can help guide all of your customer interactions. Once you’ve established core values, you need to build out your customer experience roadmap. The following are four key stages:
#1. Map Your Customer Journey
The customer journey encompasses all departments engaging directly with your customers – from the very first point of contact to ongoing relationship building. For Xactly, these areas include five key functions: sales; implementation; onboarding; customer support; and customer success. Each of these functions has their own processes to support the customer journey, as well as their own goals. Leaders need to be sure that they understand and document what’s happening for each phase of the customer journey. For example, to maximize their productivity and best serve customers, sales teams need to have a structured sales process coupled with strong criteria for qualifying customers that would be a good fit for their solution. The key is to document and break down each part of the journey by function so that you can analyze what is working and what needs to be adjusted to fit your current objectives and longer-term strategic goals.
#2. Identify Goals for Each Leg of the Journey
Work with the different departments associated with the customer journey to identify their goal. At the highest level, what are they trying to achieve? The goal of a Customer Success team might be to increase customer adoption, while building internal champions to improve customer satisfaction and grow customer accounts. In order to show things are working, you need to break down each of those main tenants into actionable programs that can be measured and adjusted accordingly as needed. Each customer-facing organization will need to run through a similar exercise to document their goals as part of their department’s journey. Automation and the right tools are key to the reporting of metrics compared to goal - whether it’s using tools like Salesforce’s Service Cloud to measure your customer support CSAT, Mixpanel analytics to truly understand your customer’s product usage or incentive compensation software like Xactly to motivate and measure the right employee behavior.
#3. Determine Why You Lose Customers
You need to understand why you’re losing customers at the root cause. Was the customer the right fit? Was the customer ready to buy? Was there an executive sponsor to drive the project? As a Chief Customer Officer, it’s my job to analyze why we lose customers, so we know where in the customer journey we need to make changes. Perhaps the problem is implementing projects without following best practices. In this case, the fix is better internal training of our staff and implementation partners. By mapping the problem back to the journey, it’s easier to see the gaps and spot the areas that require improvement in the customer experience. On the flip side, don’t overlook your best customers. What are you doing that’s working well? Learn from their profile, so you create a better customer-driven experience for others.
Talk with customers to understand why they decided to leave. What you think may be entirely different from their perspective. If you’ve lost an existing customer, make sure to do an exit interview or request a brief survey, so you fully understand their point of view. If you don’t validate the issue with customers, you can’t guarantee that you’re fixing the right problem. In today’s “Age of the Customer,” customer experience has become more important than ever. Whether you have a chief customer officer (CCO) in your organization or not, you need a process in place that supports a well thought out and consistent customer experience.