BlogDagmar 19.01.2024

Customer experience management – whose job is it?

Customer experience development Customer experience

The topic is discussed by Dagmar’s Customer Experience Lead Strategist Aino Saari, who helps companies improve customer centricity. In the discussion, the often abstract and extensively discussed topic is dismantled into building blocks of customer experience and a concrete overall picture is compiled with them. At the end, it becomes clear who the architect of the overall picture should be.

Who dares to take on the management of such a vague, personal and uncontrollable matter for the customer? Customer experience, i.e. the customer’s image of everything related to the company – directly and indirectly – is a relatively broad concept that sounds like an impossible task to manage. Nevertheless, you will also think of a company or operator that has managed to create a better customer experience than others in one way or another. So, is winning with customer experience just about beating the competition? Lulling yourself into that idea doesn’t get you far when the company is constantly peeking over its shoulder to see what its competitors will do next.

Customer experience management is on a more sustainable basis when the focus is on exceeding customer expectations time and time again. This can also be done profitably when you focus on the emotional side of the experience instead of the material.

How is mood formation managed?

Customer experience is more than service experience, user experience or brand image. It’s a feeling that comes from the company, but how the formation of the mood is managed. Customer experience management should start with defining the desired customer experience: what constitutes a successful emotional experience and what you want to achieve – and no, the “first-class customer experience” mentioned in business presentations is not the definition of customer experience. It doesn’t say anything about the feeling yet.

The definition is formed by mirroring customer understanding data and customer interface experience. I strongly recommend visiting the customer interface so that the management experiences firsthand how the customer feels in their position.

Start your processes

Once the definition of customer experience has been established, it should be identified which factors in customer encounters strengthen or weaken the customer experience. The leader’s task would be to understand how to create processes in encounters that increase the likelihood of success. Sounds easy. Processes get started and the company starts tuning a consistent customer experience – if only it were that easy. An additional challenge in shaping the customer experience process is the different preferences of customers. The comforting thing about developing the process is that easy advances are sure to be found at the beginning of development.

The further the development work progresses, the more challenging it becomes to lead the right choices and change in people’s behaviour. A significant step is already taken in customer experience management when the company has an updated understanding of how the customer’s interaction with the company or its products goes.

The next step is to also be aware of how and on what basis customers evaluate their customer experience, in addition to just the processes under the company’s own control. To form a customer understanding, it is not enough just to have the company’s own data, even though there is a lot of tacit knowledge dormant in the customer interface about what unites successful customer experiences. Without customers and the data collected from them, a holistic view cannot be achieved.

“Thank you for doing business with us..”

Customer experience management combines customer understanding, the definition of the desired customer experience and identified optimized processes into an operating method that is implemented, monitored and developed further. Monitoring requires appropriate indicators, on the basis of which development is verified. Many of us have been frustrated, “Thank you for doing business. We would like to hear how we succeeded” contact to measure customer experience. It may be that the given grade or verbal feedback really affects the company’s customer experience, even though the assumption as a customer is often different. Strengthening the image of the effectiveness of feedback is of paramount importance and requires straightforward external communication.

The most important success factor for metrics is an action plan for what their results will achieve. Too often, metrics are set to ensure that we are “well underway”. Then, after reporting the results, you can just pat yourself on the back and continue on the same track. What are the benefits of it as a driver of development? Metrics should be designed to verify the desired change. The conclusions of monitoring metrics should be proactive, verifying the expected change, not reactive. Reactive monitoring is already one step late.

Customer experience results start to improve

Over time, the operating method that complies with the customer experience definition becomes a customer experience practice and culture, and the attitude that verifies it is visible throughout the company’s operations. At first, the verbalised practice may seem glued on, but when the line is systematic, customer experience results begin to improve and affect business results. Few people are surprised anymore by the sincerity of the cashier wishing you a good day at the end of your visit, even though at first it seemed like a good thing.

In the past, good emotional skills and a service-minded attitude were a sign of a good customer service representative, now the same qualities should be scaled into the core skills of the entire staff. Customer experience management means scaling good practices to the entire customer interface. For some, skills come naturally and for others, development can and should be supported by education.

With these elements, the management palette is starting to come together: comprehensive customer understanding, definition of customer experience, clear processes, proactive monitoring and practices that guide operations.

Customer experience management checklist

  • Comprehensive and up-to-date customer understanding
  • Definition of the desired customer experience – what is the basis for exceeding expectations
  • Interface processes developed from a customer perspective
  • Proactive monitoring of customer experience development
  • An operating model that concretizes the intent into practical guidelines and the basis of culture

On top of this, the list would be to look through binoculars into the future and anticipate how customer experience needs will change. Futures thinking provides important input to support the development of the company’s customer experience.

Who is leading this?

With these elements, the customer experience management plan is theoretically complete. It remains for the management team to decide who will lead this. Who manages what applies to everything that is done, influences the everyday life of every employee and is directly reflected in turnover, how many customers choose the company again? At the very least, it should not be left to one unit.

The wisest thing to do would be to assemble a team with extensive expertise and the support of the management. However, the most important thing is to take up the challenge of customer experience so that others do not do it better than you in the future.

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