CEM maturity model pt 5: Customer-centric processes and tools

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Throughout the year so far, we have examined the CEM maturity model – an increasingly popular framework that organisations use to assess and steer the development of their customer experience management programmes.

As part of the series, we’ve been exploring how the model can be used, studying the different dimensions of the model and highlighting questions that organisations should ask themselves to assess their customer experience maturity to identify gaps between CX performance and the goals they aspire to. 

We've already examined how to assess your customer-centric vision, as well as the role of developing a customer-centric culturecreating visionary leadership and the importance of employee engagement. In this article, we're turning our attention to the customer-centric processes and tools that support a customer experience management programme. 

Processes and tools

In order to manage the customer experience properly a company needs systems and tools that provide customer information and feedback throughout the entire customer journey. Digital business transformation has completely changed the way customers interact with companies.

This is a threat to companies that do not take part in the digital transformation. At the same time there are huge rewards for companies that do. Modern, digital tools and processes are critical enablers to serve customers in a way that they expect and want.

Customer interaction tools and processes can lead to a higher emotional bond between a company and its customers if implemented correctly. This in turn increases the loyalty behaviour of customers which is key to achieving sustainable profitable growth. 

The questions below provide a very good insight into the quality of your processes and capability of your systems to manage the customer experience. The two critical success factors to delivering a great customer experience are the ability to continuously capture and analyse customer behaviour and opinions along the entire customer journey as well as the ability of the organisation to act upon that information pro-actively making continuous improvements.

Customer-centric tools and processes assessment

  • Do we continuously capture customer opinions and feedback over multiple channels?
  • Do we track customer satisfaction at every interaction along the customer journey?
  • Do we undertake detailed analysis of customer feedback in order to find ways to improve the service we provide?
  • Do I have the tools necessary to meet customer expectations and respond effectively to their requests?
  • Are customer feedback metrics  used to measure my team's performance?
  • Does customer satisfaction plays an important part in how we are incentivised?
  • Does our IT environment give us a complete view of the customer so that we can consistently deliver a relevant and positive customer experience?

The trap that many companies walk into is to jump on technology as the means to become customer-centric. There is no digital shortcut to transforming a business. For any CEM programme to succeed it is important to realise that people create great customer experiences and not IT systems. Indeed technology can be used to capture the voice of customer better than before and can provide all sorts of insights and predictions. However, it is easy to get ahead of the organisation.

Often solutions go beyond the capabilities of the people using them. It is critical that the tools and systems support the people that use them and enable the processes they are capable of following and not let the tail wag the dog.

Most people have received computer-generated messages that are nicely personalised, but when interacting with the people at the frontline the experience can be quite a different one. To get the experience right a company needs to ensure that the customer experience is consistent across any channel, whether the interaction is digital or human.

It is critical that the tools and systems support the people that use them and enable the processes they are capable of following and not let the tail wag the dog.

To build the right tools a company needs to first define its customer-centric processes. Most companies have well defined and documented finance, sales, operations and other functional processes. However, the customer-centric processes are typically neither defined nor documented. An important reason for this is that the customer journeys cut through the entire organisation and its departments leaving nobody to take end-to-end responsibility for them.

With the emergence of customer experience departments most companies have found a home for them meanwhile. The most common methodology to determine the customer-centric processes is to do journey mapping whereby the different interactions along the customer journey are hardwired to the internal processes. This gives very good insights into the delivery capabilities of the company at each touchpoint.

After the customer-centric processes are clear then the complicated task starts of finding out what data is needed to manage those processes and what tools are fit for purpose. There are a lot of providers that have jumped on the CEM bandwagon and offer customer experience platforms. Often they are extensions of conventional customer service systems. Others are specialised in customer data analytics.

The key challenge most companies face is the integration of customer data that sits in various different locations within the company (or in the cloud) and the ability to integrate the different (legacy) systems to give a 360, real-time view of the customer.

Most companies tackle customer experience technology one application at a time and make investment decisions to either enhance a particular legacy system or acquire another. As the customer journey is rarely supported by one particular system the only way to make a difference on the overall customer experience is to invest in various different systems at the same time and connecting them. This requires companies to make a bigger commitment and to take more risk than they are used to.

The even bigger challenge is the organisational change that is needed to implement the systems and the processes that they imply, especially as they are likely to affect more than one department in the company. The worry is justified as there is no single supplier that has the capabilities to cover all customer journeys from end to end despite the claims they make.

However, technical challenges can be overcome. The more frequent reason that companies fail is the ability of the organisation to manage the changes needed to deploy the processes and tools. This is why this dimension of the CEM maturity is the last one that a company should tackle and not the first.

About Kim MacGillavry and Alan Wilson

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