In today’s saturated market, the fight to retain customers is all-consuming. Because even one little hiccup can send a customer packing up and into the arms of a competitor, often regardless of cost.
Customers (and we’re talking about individual consumers and enterprises alike, here) are more empowered than ever in taking charge of their customer experience, and hold high expectations for how they want to be treated.
It’s time to get an edge on the competition by leaning into experience transformation.
What Is Experience Transformation?
Experience transformation — also known as customer experience (CX) transformation — is a measured approach to optimizing customer experiences through personalized interactions, anticipating customer needs, and strategically designing the customer journey to have seamless transitions. It entails new technology platforms, new methodologies, and, frankly, an open mind.
A customer, client, or user’s experience refers to the sum of interactions they have with your organization through all stages of the transaction and relationship. It’s how people feel about your brand, product, or service after engaging with your company.
Transformation, naturally, comprises a company’s strategies and tools to improve that experience, but it’s not just about moving from good to great. It’s about uncovering opportunities for customers to take charge and fuel their own engagement and about driving more revenue at every customer touchpoint.
For too long, companies have viewed the customer experience (especially in regards to customer service) as more of a cost center than anything else, something you simply had to have to address issues. Experience transformation’s goal is to move you and your customers past that “break/fix” approach and into a more empowered and rewarding place.
Why Is Experience Transformation Important?
Experience transformation is crucial for retaining existing customers and more quickly attracting and selling to new ones. It is no longer enough to have a quality product or service or even a low price. Consumers have more options than ever: brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be, and people are willing to pay more for a better fit (product, service, culture, etc.). Not only that, but one customer’s experience is now often thousands of customer’s news: a bad experience can spread like wildfire in the digital era, severely damaging your brand’s reputation.
Buyers are well informed and know what they want: personalized, accommodating, simple interactions performed at a rapid pace. If they don’t get it, they’ll move on to a competitor willing to produce.
The Qualtrics XM Institute found that more than 60% of consumers will flee after only one unpleasant experience. It’s abundantly clear that how customers feel about your brand is tied to overall retention and brand loyalty. This places pressure on companies to build stronger connections with their audience, and it starts by laying down the framework for experience transformation.
Laying the Framework for Experience Transformation
A positive customer experience can be challenging to deliver consistently as there are many moving pieces to consider.
Across the globe, organizations have an average customer satisfaction rate of only 86%. And “satisfaction” is truly only the start as most companies push to exceed customer expectations, not merely satisfy. In order to deliver superior quality experiences, you need to lay down a solid foundation, starting with the following five fundamental areas.
1. Customer-Centric Strategy
The first step in your CX transformation journey should be taking a deep dive into your brand’s vision and purpose, using what’s in there to create a customer-centric strategy. Determine how and where you want your customer base to interact with your brand (consider your brand values and mission more than, say, a product or campaign), and the KPIs you’ll use to measure their interactions.
You may need to change how you view your customers. Instead of focusing on your products, focus on their needs, think about a relationship more than a transaction. Once you have a clear vision, document it, and make that documentation “the gospel” for all teams, as your whole company will need to come together to systematically bring this new strategy to life.
2. Technology That Serves
Prioritize digital tools that allow you to offer your customers convenience and speed. Take simple steps to improve your online tools, such as ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, up-to-date, and equipped with a live chat feature. Allowing the customer to receive what they need immediately – better still: allowing them to self-serve via portals, kiosks, and other interfaces – will help them feel heard and appreciated.
Don’t forget about your internal tools. It costs you when your staff can’t provide quality service because of antiquated tech. Make sure the software you use for support tickets, CRM, and other data tracking SaaS aligns with your goals and is intuitive for your employees to use.
3. Culture That Guides
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) describes company culture as the “shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.” Without a defined culture, your employees are left without a guide on how they are expected to interact. Defining your organization’s culture should be based on the vision you created in step one, and focused on transforming the customer experience.
During your organization’s journey through experience transformation, it’s critical to remember internal transformation as well. Your employees are the frontline team members who will be the customer-facing voice of your brand. If you want your staff to make your customers feel positive about your brand, your team must feel optimistic about it first.
4. Build the Right Teams
It’s vital to your CX journey to build cross-functional teams. Internal teams must collaborate to create consistent, hassle-free experiences for the customer across every channel and touchpoint: marketing, sales, operations–they all have a stake in experience transformation.
These teams need to have technical expertise, a problem-solving mindset, and the willingness to take ownership of their responsibilities. They must work together to redesign customer experiences and develop your products and services to align with the brand vision. And they must keep an eye on the overarching strategic goal of transforming the customer experience while they work on department-specific tactics.
5. Operational Infrastructure
As you implement all of these changes, you’ll need to have the proper infrastructure to support them. This will include refining processes, keeping a proactive approach to problem-solving, and ongoing employee training. A back-end solution that facilitates document and information sharing, creates a “bread crumb trail” to mark progress toward KPIs, and that connects data from internal and external sources, sharing across departments and leadership, is critical. Capturing as much data as possible throughout the process will be job one.
How To Do It Right
A successful experience transformation strategy should be operable and gratifying for your customers. Here are ten best practices for getting experience transformation right:
- Set realistic expectations about your product or service.
- Have easy-to-access support resources and user-friendly digital tools.
- Send proactive messaging around known issues — This is what’s happening, and here’s what we are doing about it.
- Build trust through being transparent with your pricing and policies.
- Offer 24/7 live customer support — use artificial intelligence (AI), smart chatbots, or virtual assistants to help provide immediate service.
- Create an omnichannel experience — give your customers attention through consistent communication across multiple channels such as social media and online forums.
- Personalize interactions using data — gather context about who customers are. Discover their preferences, personalities, and habits to offer personalized product recommendations based on search and purchasing habits.
- Conduct frequent audits on your support systems — keeping a close eye on your support tickets will help you pinpoint recurring issues.
- Anticipate customer needs before a problem occurs.
- Build a strong infrastructure — refine processes and use data and analytics from A/B tests, satisfaction surveys, customer effort scores, and churn rates.
Benefits of Experience Transformation
Once you’ve reached your goals for experience transformation, you’ll see benefits beyond happier customers. Your employees will feel connected and clearly understand your brand’s vision. Your entire organization, as well as your customers, should feel a sense of belonging and pride in their connection to your brand. Here are a few other benefits of experience transformation:
- Retention: By streamlining processes to improve the customer experience, you’ll promote a positive service culture that creates a more productive environment for all. Your employees will have a feeling of camaraderie and pride, leading to less turnover and disruption.
- Brand Loyalty: According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report, 2020, 52% of customers will go the extra mile to buy from brands they feel loyal to, resulting in a higher customer lifetime value (CLV) and increased revenue from repeat purchases and cross-selling.
- Increased Adaptability: Consumer needs and preferences are constantly shifting, as is the market you operate in. When focused on CX, you’ll be able to adapt to changes quickly and pivot more efficiently. Having your finger on the pulse of your market will give you a competitive edge.
Bottom line, when customers’ expectations are exceeded, you gain measurable business benefits—including the opportunity to earn more revenue. Through experience transformation, organizations create superior customer experiences that make it effortless for customers to accomplish their goals and positively engage with your brand.
Finding a Roadmap
Finding a path to a more resilient, agile supply chain takes time, investment, and plenty of forward thinking. Our experience suggests companies need to take four important steps.
- Conduct a roadmap assessment
A broad look at a supply chain requires stepping away from the duct-tape school of thought and fixing what’s wrong with the engine. In our work, we dig into the critical needs driving the choice of system tools, drawing relationships to what functionality will meet those needs. Looking closely at implementation and workflow, this calls for honest feedback, which increases the initial adoption rate for the platform. If people don’t trust the system, they won’t use it, undermining the considerable investment in planning solutions.
- Standardize processes
While it seems like this should be a given, standardization remains extremely challenging. And it’s especially problematic for conglomerates, who often have as many as ten different types of ERP systems in place. This isn’t an area where companies can simply spend a lot of money and then cross their fingers. Deciding on the best system and then migrating others over to it can take years. There may not even be a good reason to use the same system, but the data must be normalized with standard key performance indicators.
- Create a new planning process
Planners typically use history to predict the future. And if that was a safe bet, systems supply chain planning could easily be put on autopilot. But the past two years have shown us that history no longer tells the future. So, the importance of scenario planning has become critical. Companies need to run multiple scenarios and then come together for a consensus planning process, one that includes finance, marketing, and operations.
- Add visibility
The most effective systems let people see every part of the chain more clearly. Where are products now, and when will shipments arrive? What happens if it’s 90 days? Or 120? How can we change production and delivery schedules accordingly? What does our raw material plan look like? How much capital do we need? How much do we need to outsource? Insights like that require an effective dashboard, a control tower that pulls every part of the organization together. And these scenarios, which once took weeks to pull together, can now be calculated in a matter of minutes, providing top management all the intelligence they need to move forward. Combined, these actions help people act less like firefighters and more like the strategic thinkers they really are. It enables them to ask fundamental questions. Where are we going to be three years from now? Five? How can we reconfigure our infrastructure to capitalize on whatever might happen?
Complex Problems, Simplified Solutions
We’ve long helped companies use these steps to make their supply chain more agile and resilient. One of our clients is a desk manufacturer, already rapidly growing even before the work-and-learn from home revolution. Because of its effective systems, it has managed to thrive and delight customers, even in the face of intense demand.
Another manufactures pipe. Using the solutions we provided, it was able to reinvent sales and operations planning processes. So, as the demand for building products escalated—with no end in sight—it’s been able to shift production models to meet demand. Importantly, it’s gaining market share from less-prepared competitors.
Customers, ultimately, will migrate to suppliers that give them what they need the fastest, at the best price, and most reliably.
To keep them, companies need solutions that simplify their work. Scalability doesn’t mean complexity. It calls for a strong foundation in core operating technologies that can help you bridge the gap between market opportunity and ability to execute. We can help provide these, with simple designs that are easy to use, engage teams, and adapt for every circumstance.