Targeting, attracting, and retaining new customers will remain a top
priority for chief information officers (CIOs) in 2008, according to a
worldwide survey of 1,500 CIOs by Gartner Executive Programmes (EXP).
CIOs will need to help sales, marketing and customer service to enhance
the customer experience to meet this goal.
Many CRM programmes are established with the intention of improving the
customer experience but they are often uncoordinated and affect the
overall desired “experience” of the brand. Gartner outlines
seven types of initiatives that can help organisations focus on
specific efforts that, in aggregate, will boost customer loyalty and
“No one project will, by itself, improve the overall experience,
but the combination of these seven types of projects, if implemented
well, will contribute to the development and perpetual improvement of
the organisation's customer experiences,” said Ed Thompson,
research vice president at Gartner.
Gartner advises companies to focus their efforts on projects that are
doable and critical, while keeping the broader business objective as a
future project. The seven fundamental initiatives to help companies
improve customer experience are:
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- Act on feedback, deploy changes and communicate actions to employees and customers
that fail to act on these actions in response to customers’
feedback are throwing away the chance to increase the number of
satisfied and loyal customers. “This information is wasted
because, in many companies, there’s a disconnect between the
desire to listen to customers and the resulting strategies,” said
Mr Thompson. Companies should view every contact with customers as an
opportunity to deliver brand values and standardise on one business
feedback management tool across the organisation and for all
- Design processes from the outside in
process redesign is done with the objective of improving operational
efficiencies rather than to improve the customer experience: an
inside-out approach. Often these changes are made under the auspices of
a quality improvement programme. Yet, some organisations are applying
the same quality improvement methodologies to the goal of improving the
customer experience. First they identify which processes matter most to
customers then set about identifying what to improve: an outside-in
approach. At every customer interaction with a company, there is at
least one "moment of truth" — an interaction that can
disproportionately positively or negatively affect the customer
experience. “Organisations must fix one problem at a time and
shouldn’t try to fix all broken processes simultaneously. The
best organisations just focus on the worst two or three,” he
- Act as one organisation to ensure consistency
customer may interact with many parties as part of his or her business
with a company. The challenge for the company is to ensure that
information gleaned at one interaction is not forgotten in the next
channel. “Since the company cannot control all these
interactions, we recommend they start with the parts of the customer
experience they can control. They will achieve more by addressing their
own process issues first before making demands of suppliers and
partners,” said Mr Thompson.
- Be open
that want to improve the customer experience often become more open.
Being more open may just mean opening up more channels or opening hours
but it can mean much more. For example, some organisations establish an
environment where customers can support, promote, defend or refer their
products and services through an online community. This community can
be one of the most powerful and influential tools for marketing and as
a result, an open organisation should follow three tenets: be
transparent and clear, be open-minded and be inclusive.
- Personalise products and experiences
personalisation options are simple, such as a website that enables
customers to monogram products, while others are more complex, such as
tailoring and personal pricing. However, customisation creates
complexity and costs for the company. Companies need to beware of just
evaluating the costs of personalisation against the sales benefits and
factor in the longer-term value of improving the customer experience
when building the business case.
- Alter attitudes and employee behaviour
actions are often the most powerful improvements in a customer's
experience. Companies can alter employee behaviour in three primary
ways: recruit the right types of employees, ensure standards such as
policies, procedures and governance structures and create training
programmes and incentives that can modify employee behaviour patterns.
Executive mystery-shopper programmes and hands-on manager involvement
during peak-demand periods help educate company leaders about what the
average customer and employee are experiencing.
- Design the complete customer experience
organisations have no plan or design for the customer experience. The
experience is unplanned and accidental in its execution, with the
result that the experience “just happens”. Companies with a
focus on selling experiences, such as in the entertainment, education
and travel industries, focus on designing experiences. The brand is an
expression of a product or company’s reputation built up over
many years. Today, brands increasingly are used as part of marketing
communications to create a high-level expectation or promise of a
particular quality or customer experience.
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