How do I do “customer experience?”

Before we can address the question “How do I do customer service?”, we first have to define some terms.  According to Harley Manning at Forrester, customer experience is defined as “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”  He further defines an interaction: “It’s when you and your customers have a two-way exchange.” If we start with those definitions in mind, customer experience is how customers perceive their two-way exchanges with your company. That’s a pretty broad definition, and if you look at it, outstanding customer experience isn’t something you do, it’s an end result.

That’s right, you can’t “do” customer experience; that’s like “doing” “healthy.” There are things you do to get more healthy: eat right, exercise, monitor stress levels and so on. So what does one call what you do to improve customer experience? I suggest the term “customer engagement.”

“Engagement” is a term that’s been applied to so many things in so many ways that it’s now almost meaningless. Sean Corcoran, while at Forrester, wrote that “due to overwhelming clutter and the need to connect with customers in a world in which people created 500 billion online word-of-mouth impressions through social media, marketers needed a new term to describe the interaction they were having with customers and “engagement” fit the bill.”

So customer experience is to health as customer engagement is to getting healthy. Our question has changed from “How do I do customer service?” to “How do I improve at doing customer engagement?” Now that’s a question we can sink our teeth into. Since we’ve established that we want to improve something, we need to be able to measure it. Intangible things like “clicks” and “Time-on-Site” may sound tempting, but let’s go back to basics.

Improving customer engagement means making your customer’s perception of their interactions more positive—more likely to result in increased revenue, membership, market share, or whatever you’re chasing. Start with your current bottom line metrics. You have to know where are you before you can tell what direction you’re moving. This is key to any customer experience initiative. Now, how to make a positive impact?

Let’s return to our health analogy.  If customer experience is being healthy, and customer engagement is getting healthy, then we need to measure our health and find ways to improve it. We need weights, or treadmills, or Pilates classes.  There are many things that could be classified as Customer Engagement Tools, from employee training to streamlining delivery processes to better website design. There are lots of opportunities out there for improvement, and they’re all tools to make our customers’ experiences more “healthy.”

USAN provides a Customer Engagement (CE) Platform,  a set of tools (think circuit training) that facilitates many best practice approaches, from consistent messaging to individualized contact preferences, to interaction history, to truly unified messaging.  For example, with the USAN CE Platform business hours can be changed in one place and all other channels—from IVR to web to call center agent, even to information disseminated by retail employees—are all consistently updated. You could even make a change to business rules about refunds or discounts and every customer-facing touch point would be updated to stay in sync.

By all means contact us to see how we can help, but the take-away here is this: to improve customer experience you first have to measure it, and then start “working out” with different tools, from training to process improvement to technology, to get the experience in great shape

While you’re at it, have a quick look (less than 3 minutes) at our video that describes the omni-channel customer engagement experience.