Day 2 of the Gartner CRM Conference 2011 is at an end; what are the key messages we came away with?
The Customer Experience war is fought on the front lines
Ed Thompson, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, delivered a number of key messages in his session, titled Putting Plans for Customer Experience Into Practice. Notably, he urged CEOs and managers to look to their front line employees for input – as they are the ones dealing with the customers and witnessing their frustrations and concerns first hand.
Companies spending the most on improving customer experience are generally either the very best or very worst at it
The very best companies at customer experience management (CEM) invest heavily each year in measuring customer experience in order to stay on top. The very worst companies invest heavily each year in a bid to quell the constant bashing by the media. It’s the companies sitting quietly in the middle that have yet to appreciate just how important customer experience is to their business.
Process is important, but so is the flexibility to break it
We all have tales of times when customer-facing staff have gone that ‘extra mile’ for us; whether upgrading us on a flight or hotel room or giving us an unofficial loyalty discount. In fact, the most successful companies allow rule-breaking “by design”; while process remains the key to a good customer experience, giving your front line sales and customer service operatives the flexibility to step outside that process in the right circumstances is a sure way to create happy customers.
Measuring your customers’ experience requires more than one method
Gartner’s Jim Davies took to the stage to explain that measuring your customers’ experience demands a multi-faceted approach in his presentation titled Voice of the Customer: Listen, Analyze and Act To Improve the Customer Experience. He broke this down into three categories:
- Direct – Customer communicating directly with you via survey, letter or phone.
- Indirect – Customer talking about you to others – this includes social media
- Inferred – That voice inside a customer’s head that no one hears, but affects their future decisions
The challenge for companies is to take a holistic view of all three of these together, and to understand just how strongly one compliments the others. Jim cited a great case study of a leading Middle East mobile provider. For years, number portability didn’t exist in Israel. Changing provider meant changing phone number, which was enough of an inconvenience to keep many with networks they weren’t happy with. When portability was introduced, the network experienced a massive increase in customer churn that surveys hadn’t predicted. Implementing a speech analytics system analysing word spotting, emotion detection and talk patterns led to an 85% increase in customers identified as a churn risk – 75% of which proved accurate.
The public does not trust technology
Technology is feared for its unreliability – from the murderous haywire robots of 1960s sci-fi to media reports of lost USB sticks full of valuable data. The hardest challenge for any company investing in CEM is to gain its customers’ trust. Services must be robust and offer constant feedback; if a user fills out a form online, for example, but does not receive a confirmation email, they will in most cases phone a customer service line. Reducing complexity also increases trust – the simpler a form or service is to complete, the less perceived risk in it going wrong.
Customer experience online begins at the development stage
Adobe’s VP of Enterprise Marketing Kevin Cochrane joined forces with Yohan Founs, Principal Consultant at leading French IT specialist and Adobe customer SQLi to demonstrate how Adobe Air enables fast development of cloud-based collaborative interfaces. Meanwhile, Gartner’s Ray Valdes offered insight into designing delightful, or dreadful digital user experiences. We’ll be looking at what was said on development in the coming days – watch this space!