Is Creating a Better Customer Experience Just as Simple as Listening?
By James Hunnybourne, CRO at Ultima
The debate on what makes for a great customer experience is not new. Despite decades of business experience, countless surveys and limitless gurus on the topic, it still feels like a north star. Something to strive for but rarely possible to reach. Some companies are better at it than others, but it's hard to say why one is better than another. And as the world keeps changing, it's even harder to measure what makes a brand interaction (commercial or otherwise) so good that, as a business leader or individual, you think of them first.
IS IT A GENERATIONAL THING?
How many of us hear the classic words' it was different in my day' or 'when I first started, we…'. There is something to be said for the richer dialogue that four generations of Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers bring to the workplace that offers reactive and proactive opportunities to manage a more resilient business and workforce. Include the fact that as the world becomes more and more driven by a digital-first approach, expectations of a working environment are now as much about gaining and giving value.
PEOPLE FIRST OR SECOND?
Gartner's Future of Sales research shows that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. On the one hand, this supports the efficiencies and speed to market that come with the acceleration of IT services automation, online licence renewals, digital communications, chatbots etc. But on the other hand, it also risks dehumanising the workforce environment and customer experience. How many times has a call centre chatbot infuriated you? Does your interaction with a company involve dealing with a real person – people still like to buy from people – it's human nature. So where do you find the balance?
As business leaders, and especially as we face the additional pressures of a challenging economy and continuing skills shortages, our joint mission has to be to find the right balance so that our people are motivated and empowered because of the technology available. And our customers believe they are doing business with people, not just technology.
How do we do this? It starts with the courage to ask the hard questions, listen to what comes back and act on it as a fundamental strategy. It's so simple – the best way we will help our businesses is to listen to our customers' voices in 2023 and stay relevant by adapting to what we hear.
VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER: FUEL TO A BETTER, MORE RESILIENT FUTURE
At the heart of every business should be a culture that drives behaviours that are genuinely curious about its customers. Everyone should listen to their customers, get to know them and create connections with them one conversation at a time. Show your human side, show them you care, and then act with integrity to make things happen.
Being knowledgeable in all aspects of your business will enable you to provide personalised advice based on their needs rather than on your sales targets. Being willing to bend the rules will also help you to go that extra mile and demonstrate that you're prioritising them rather than your business needs, delivering a better customer experience.
SEAMLESSLY CONNECT HUMAN AND DIGITAL CX
It's not to say that creating connections with your customers cannot happen in the digital world; far from it. Customer experience technology is here to stay. It's more about re-designing processes around it so that it seamlessly integrates into the customer experience. Part of this is understanding where your customers lose patience with technology and ensuring that the touchpoints that require human connection are in place. It's also about staying relevant by adapting to what you hear.
CREATING STRONG CUSTOMER PARTNERSHIPS
We only have one shot at making customers know they're important to us. First impressions go a long way. When looking to commit to more than just a first date, it's about understanding what makes your customers tick by listening to them and understanding how your organisation works with them, which will establish whether you will be strong partners in the future.
Simple? But how many businesses do it?
James Hunnybourne, CRO at Ultima