When it comes to CX, rethink what matters: Output vs. outcome
- Posted on January 11, 2022
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Customer care has been through some significant change, exacerbated by the pandemic. According to Forrester’s 2022 predictions, it’s looking like eight in 10 consumers will see the world as ALL digital, indicating consumers have much higher expectations that digital experiences work well. And yet for B2B marketers, Forrester predicts that 75% of efforts to create automated, personalized engagement won’t meet ROI goals due to inadequate buyer insight.
For those brands seeking to endear consumer or business buyers, there is a significant challenge ahead to ensure a high-value digital customer experience. And the experience doesn’t start and stop with marketing; every experience touchpoint – from sales to customer service encounters – will impact your customer’s overall perception. If your teams are on point to help meet these customer experience goals, do you think you’re measuring what really matters?
How organizations put people and their experiences first in the new hybrid world
My real-world example of experience enhanced by service occurred at a theme park in Orlando, Florida where, on the last day of our vacation, we lost our camera. After realizing it was missing, we contacted customer service via email. Park data informed their service team that they already had the camera recorded as lost on the day and rough time we visited the park. After confirming some details related to our visit, the camera was internationally shipped and arrived in Scotland two days later. We then received a follow up communication to ensure it arrived OK, and to ask if we were happy with the resolution. And that simple act of checking the outcome made us feel like we were being cared for.
Behind the scenes, the park’s digital channels garnered qualitative and quantitative feedback both on the park ground and the post-park experience. These functional metrics and measures were used to improve my experience and then assess service and indicators of experience quality. Now, if you consider this example for what it is, this probably happens hundreds of times a day. And with some rudimentary processes, a problem for the customer can become a real opportunity to provide a positive experience. It’s all about how you make your customer feel, rather than the functional effectiveness of the service you provide them.
Preference for internal performance metrics may hinder customer centricity
Organizations fail to offer a consistent experience across those customer touchpoints for many reasons: departmental silos with separate remits, inability to connect physical and digital experiences, and disconnected martech and CRM platforms that can only provide employees with fragmented views of customers, to name a few.
Another one of the persistent challenges that steers organizations away from customer satisfaction is misguided performance metrics. Businesses are measuring customer care success capability not necessarily based on meeting customer needs, but what may best align to internal business processes. And how does this manifest? It’s often based on what is easy to measure, like traditional service metrics: call volume (number of calls), average handle time (minutes tackling a conversation), and call deflection (passing off customer queries to low/no cost care channels). In other words, customer care success is often measured in employee and operational output, and less about the customer.
But measuring the internal response to customer inquiries is not the best indicator nor influencer of customer preference and loyalty. The truth is, if you’re not measuring continual improvement of experience, you're possibly creating a bad experience in favor of service metrics.
Be proactive with Experience Level Agreements
This requires a shift for organizations to become much more proactive instead of reactive. The reactive organization thinks “we responded to this customer need faster/better, at minimal cost”. The proactive organization would say “we anticipated this customer need faster/better, to continue earning the customer’s ongoing favor”. One mindset is internally oriented and deflective, and the other is more customer centric.
Yet in a survey of consumers, Gartner reports that merely 13% of customers reported receiving proactive service. When these customers are preemptively made aware of issues, which increases customer satisfaction and lowers effort, resulting in a better customer experience.
Organizations looking to be more agile and proactive may consider adopting Experience Level Agreements (XLAs). Conceptually, these are like Service Level Agreements (SLAs) indicating a standard of support but are much more customer centric. They focus on the continual improvement of experience vs. a more traditional “how quickly did we measure that call” approach. Organizations with an XLA are poised to make customer experience more systemic and measurable – truly marking customer impact as a priority for which more of the larger organization is accountable. To be more proactive with gaining ROI from your XLA, transition thinking of customer touchpoints as digital services that are part of your holistic customer experience. Consider embedding AI in your customer care experience to anticipate and continually evolve and address customer needs before and during each interaction. This can help you continually learn, adapt, and elevate services to a consistent level of excellence.
But like many things, an XLA is not a one-size-fits-all, as some organizations need to operate both SLAs and XLAs depending on their target audiences. No matter if you’re in Marketing, Customer Service, IT or on the board, you’re on the hook to ensure that your organization is fulfilling its brand promise. No single group can do it alone. Consider how to view your teams’ performance in a different way – whether that’s looking at customer effort, NPS, or other metrics that focus on outcome vs. output.
Are you seeking to drive a more proactive, consistent customer experience across the full customer journey?
With our understanding of employee and customer experience, Avanade can help you embrace continual change and navigate customer behaviors to drive loyalty and advocacy. Our award-winning digital strategy, digital marketing, and customer service experts can help you achieve more responsive customer care.