What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
When I worked in marketing nobody ever asked me “What does marketing mean?”. Since I moved into Customer Experience, every time I give my job title, someone asks “What is Customer Experience?”.
Even though customer experience is recognized as more and more important for the long term survival of brands, many remain confused about the meaning of customer experience. Here are six ways you can answer when asked about what CX means.
Customer Experience means any one and all of the below. Each area of Customer Experience represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When Customer Experience is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
Customer Experience Meaning & Marketing
Smart CX comes AFTER marketing
When I mentor Customer Experience professionals, my first question is always about brand promise and brand strategy. Marketing defines a brand’s customer service when it broadcasts the RTBs (reasons to believe or use a brand). The customer experience mission is to consistently deliver on those marketing promises. That is how CX promotes a brand.
Customer Experience Meaning: Policies & Procedures
Good CX means redesigning policies and procedures to make customers’ life easier
Sometimes Customer Experience is about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and in your employees’ shoes. Do this to understand what your customers go through to get “their jobs done” with your brand. And what your employees do to get their jobs done on behalf of your brand.
Looking at it from the customer’s perspective, his/her “job” might be to sign up for your subscription service, pay a bill, or close an account. Often, Customer Experience professionals find out that a bad customer experience is bad by design. This is not malicious, of course, nor is it intended. But still, the bad outcome happened by design!
That kind of poor design starts from the ground up. Think about training materials and how they prepare frontline employees to deliver customer experience. Those materials might be teaching the employees to ask a question in an insensitive way as a result of regulatory requirements. Two policies might have been written in silos and might be asking the same questions of new customers in a way that makes them feel like your brand is wasting their time.
In a bigger, older and more merger-driven organization, CX is often about cleaning the so called “customer journeys” by revising existing rules and procedures. Although this may not be the most exciting part of CX for me, for an engineer, cleaning up these procedures is an exceptionally rewarding and meaningful job.
CX Meaning: Customer Engagement
Asking customers what they like/do not like about their experiences with a brand improves CX
Another side of CX, survey making and survey analysis, helps to capture the VOC (Voice of the Customer). This is the job of people who design, analyze and offer recommendations to business units based on what they have heared from customers. This part of CX is integral. It drives results when it is done properly.
The challenge is the integration levels within the business. Often VOC teams are perceived as the analytics group. Instead of being the drivers of change, they simply “service” the business when the business has questions for them. In other words, instead of the customer voice driving the conversation, the business assumes it understands what the customer needs. Regardless of the challenges, surveys, analysis and VOC are excellent opportunities within the CX fields, particularly for CX professionals with a background and interest in analytics.
CX Meaning: Employee Engagement
Ask employees what they NEED to deliver better CX and GIVE it to them
A derivative of VOC, VOE (Voice of the Employee) is an analytics version of CX that drives the engagement inside the company. Ideally, this team asks the right questions from employees to learn what prevents them from delivering on those marketing promises we mentioned earlier.
It is amazing what one can learn from the frontline. From illogical or user unfriendly UX design of every day tools, to approval levels of discretionary spending that make no sense, employees highlight the holes in customer experience that leave a brand vulnerable. When VOC and VOE are the same people, the impact of this specific CX job is palpable to all! Very few organizations set up a system for understanding and adapting to VOC and VOE needs. Often VOE is under HR and VOC is under Marketing, completely isolating the insights from one another.
There are important opportunities available for organizations who are able to bring VOC and VOE together and design CX according to those insights.
CX Meaning: Process & Architecture Design
Process and architecture design must allow free movement.
My favorite version of Customer Experience is the design and human experience planning of a product or service. It combines engineering, brand management, design, and VOC. Not many organizations have this CX job clearly defined. It is one of those things that you have to create for yourself. But doing so is not that hard, depending on the life cycle of your brand.
If the brand is building an app and it is a retail business, you can absolutely take this app and integrate it in the physical spaces of the brand. I can promise you either nobody is thinking about it or they are, but they are thinking it is in the distant future. You can take this side of the experience, build it and make a big impact!
CX Meaning: Organization Advocacy
Be an advocate for the Customer so everything the company does keeps the customer in mind
The last role in CX is the most senior. It is also the most difficult. These are the people that work with the executive team to provide funding for Customer Experience departments and programs. They are also the people who design the organization to deliver consistent, easy and seamless experiences for customers.
Think Elena Ford and what she is doing with her company. Executive leaders who are advocates for CX take into account VOC, VOE, marketing, processes and procedures, product development and employee training to build systems around the experiences customers need and want from your brand. For them, and for their brands, CX improves the way they do business. And that, at the end of the day, is the true meaning of CX.
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