Customer-centricity as a strategy for success is hot idea, but the idea itself is not new. Over 100 years ago, James Cash (J.C.) Penny built his retail empire with a well known commitment to the customer, and many have sought insight from his wisdom since then. A number of quotes attributed to this visionary demonstrate his dedication to customer engagement and satisfaction as a way to drive viral advocacy:
The store that sells its wares for less but pays little attention to the service it renders does not meet with the success of the store with courteous employees. The public is not greatly interested in saving a little money on a purchase at the expense of service. Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.
The Age of the Customer has renewed interest in the development of customer-focused service excellence as a differentiation and growth strategy. Although the concept is not new, innovative approaches are required for today’s digital world to ensure accuracy and efficiency in service delivery across online and offline channels. Adopting the technology and practices to achieve this might seem difficult, but there is a wealth of information and advice available online to help you get started. First, you must understand the big picture, and then tailor your plan based on your most critical needs and your best opportunities.
Taking in the Big Picture
G5 recommends 10 steps to plan, enable and adopt a complete customer experience strategy. Together these efforts create the foundation and framework to consistently deliver exceptional experience while leveraging the investment across all your operations.
- Refine and document experience objectives
- Align staff to project purpose and goals
- Establish a Customer Insight/Experience Team
- Scope the customer journey and document touchpoints and details
- Design a comprehensive plan to manage experience
- Create and implement policies, procedures and tools to track customer interactions and deliver exceptional customer experience
- Formalize employee training
- Deliver customers exceptional experience
- Measure and analyze actual customer experience
- Create and implement optimizations based on team, employee and customer feedback
It’s true that these are 10 steps of significance and involved effort. Get oriented by understanding the steps, but start the project by getting your leadership team on board. While the long-term ability to create and deliver exceptional customer experience relies on the alignment and efforts of all your employees, it’s critical that leadership clarify and internalize the reasons and the expectations for these customer service efforts first. Overview why you’re undertaking the project, how you expect to achieve success and emphasize the need for full participation in both planning and execution.
When the senior team shares the vision and understands the transformative nature of this project, there will be less friction, more active participation and better outcomes as staff recognize and develop new freedoms and responsibilities. This first effort in gaining leadership buy-in and soliciting their feedback can have major impact by exposing existing service gaps and identifying quick wins to improve customer satisfaction and smoother operations.
Early in your analysis of improving customer experience, consider how the rise of new digital channels and rapidly changing customer behavior is changing the way that prospects find you, leads convert, and customers expect to manage your business relationship. Today’s customer journey is full of digital touchpoints; well-connected prospects and customers are using online reviews and social feedback to meet at both ends of the lifecycle – to identify your business as the right solution, and more often than ever, to communicate your value to your next customer.
In my next post, I will describe a simple model for beginning service and experience design. No matter where you start though, improving customer experience should be a priority. What has been a historic staple of business success is reborn in the digital Age of the Customer.
Today, rooted in its rich heritage, J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP) is re-imagining every aspect of its business … transforming the way it does business and remaking the customer experience across its 1,100 jcpenny stores and on jcp.com[i].