Why Financial Services is still lagging in CX


Why Financial Services is still lagging in CX 

Blogpost by Nathalie Schooling

We recently conducted a nationwide survey with executives in the B2B, B2C, and B2B2C Financial Services space. Like all our research projects, we wanted to find out from the sector, how their businesses rate from a CX perspective. In undertaking this research, there were a few things that stood out to me: reasons for the very obvious lagging of this sector in customer experience.

It’s not that the sector isn’t ‘awake’ to CX, it is. This is evident not only in the survey responses, but in the CX efforts we are seeing across the industry. The key problem however is that despite efforts, there seems to be a fundamental lack of efficient CX re-design, brought about by a plethora of challenges or obstacles the sector is facing.

You see, it’s not enough in the age of digitisation, to ‘think’ you know what your customer wants or to merely automate and digitise services. Quality CX today requires a business to be intuitive, predict their customer’s problems, and solve them ahead of time. Essentially, CX is evolving into an intelligent design revolution, and those who are able to play in this space will find themselves ahead of the curve.

For example, one such Financial Services company making intelligent CX design choices is Nedbank Private Wealth. Their Digital when you want it. Human when you need it promise, is a testament to their commitment to meeting the customer where they are at, not where they think they’re at. Further evidenced by their immersive digital platforms, is the financial groups’ clear understanding that humans can never be replaced by advancing technology. It’s this sensibility that informs and drives the agile design of their CX processes and keeps them at the top of their game.

But what are the obstacles holding a lot of the sector back from achieving smart CX-redesign? Below we unpack some of our survey findings and look at the obstacles influencing CX progression in this sector: 

COVID-19 recovery, price hikes, and inflation; according to our survey respondents, the financial sector is feeling the pressure post-COVID, to continuously reassure customers currently and offer extensive support. To achieve this, they are needing to accelerate digital strategies, and this ‘pressure’ to digitally transform is resulting in a lot of knee-jerk reactions that lead to underdeveloped CX strategies.

Staying on top of clients’ expectations: 50% of respondents noticed a sizable change in their customers’ expectations, with digital ease and functionality listed as the most significant change in customers’ demands. They reported the need to gain a more thorough understanding of the customer’s end-to-end goals and highlighted their concern around access to real-time client data.

Push back from those at the top who rely on legacy IT systems: for many, CX is still considered to be in its infancy and is not prioritised across all departments or driven from the top down. This was a huge concern for the majority of respondents, who cited the necessity for redesigning business processes to suit current digital interactions, instead of relying on legacy systems.  

Remote working: over and above the concern around faster digitisation, remote management was highlighted as a resounding obstacle for our respondents. It was found to be the biggest COVID-19-related challenge with the most direct impact on CX strategy and company growth.

Measurement: often considered the bugbear of CX by professionals, but arguably the most important CX element, 88% of survey respondents said they have some form of CX measurement metric in place to understand client/customer satisfaction. But only 50% said that it’s helping them to make CX improvements, i.e., they can get a basic understanding of customers’ needs, but getting beyond this point to implement changes is proving to be a challenge.

Follow-through and maintenance of CJM interventions: the majority of our respondents (81%) reported using Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) to review their CX and said they have seen the value and benefit this process has added to their business. However, the challenge they face is in getting company-wide and leadership buy-in to maintain consistent CJM and implementation of CX changes.

What these findings tell us is that there is still a long way to go before the South African Financial Services sector can compete in the CX space. We are seeing too many departmental factors across organisations hold back a company’s CX success. To address this setback, Financial Services companies should consider companywide CX training to embed a deep CX culture across all departments. Only once EVERYONE is on the same page, and when CX is driven from the top, can things like intelligent and effective CX re-design fall into place.

Out of touch and out of mind?

Out of touch and out of mind?

Blogpost by Nathalie Schooling

I recently had a series of frustrating experiences that told me in no uncertain terms that my bank has very limited understanding of my needs. Knowing your customer and their pain points is essential in gaining and retaining advantage in a competitive landscape.

In our 2020 FINANCIAL SERVICES TEMPERATURE CHECK we asked, “How important is  Voice of Customer in terms of your CX strategy and the impact of customer / client sentiment has on your bottom line?”

All respondents (except the auditors) answered: “Vital for our business to understand client/customer sentiment.”

In the two years since then, few of us have visited banks. ATMs in locked-down malls blinked their little “hide your pin” messages to themselves for much of that time. And sure, we’ve all got very friendly with online banking and the various delivery services. But you know what, now that we’re out and about again, sometimes we need cash.

FNB has probably got 90% of my personal and professional business; I have a private banker, which is a safety net I like having because I can actually speak to a human being who knows me and my profile; FNB’s online banking platform is also really great, in my opinion… However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find their ATMs.

Recently while at Constantia Village shopping centre, I went to draw money and discovered that not only were they closing the branch, they were also removing the ATM – and wouldn’t be replacing it. I was told by a superbly rude bank employee that if I wanted to draw money, I would have to drive to Main Road, Plumstead, and draw money at their branch there; alternatively, I could go into Pick n Pay and draw money at the cashier.

Much to my irritation, I then spent 10 minutes waiting in a Pick n Pay queue only to be told by the cashier-teller that I could not draw money, as they were waiting for the money “to be delivered”.

Today I went to Cavendish Square, also in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, to draw money. Now “hunt the ATM” is a game one has been expected to play at Cavendish fairly regularly. They move them around like we have all the time in the world for a scavenger hunt without clues (there are never any signs or posters to tell you where the next location is). Wise to this, I went to the information desk, where I was told that I could draw money from their branch in Dreyer Street, which is near Taxi Central, ie Main Road, Claremont.

We live in such a safe country that I feel super safe drawing cash in an open environment. NOT!

What the actual, FNB?

What about the other popular shopping centres in this node – Belvedere, Palmyra, Dean Street … Not an FNB ATM in sight.

Is it just FNB, or do those of you reading my rant have the same or similar experience with your bank?

Do you not remember a time when people opened accounts based on the spread of your ATMs, FNB? We are not as yet, a cashless society. Besides me and my peers who still need cash occasionally, spare a thought for the elderly and those who don’t have access to the internet.

Are you so desperately greedy that you’ve convinced yourselves that online is where it’s all at and ever more shall be world without end amen?

Have you not factored the ABnormal of the last two years into your decision, and the possibility of a return to the OLD normal?

Have you asked your clients what THEY need?

This is going to do almost as much damage as putting your social media in the hands of someone you chose to call RB Jacobs. But this time it will be incremental. In your hubris you probably won’t even see it creep up on you. But it will. Because you know what? You’re coming between us and our hard-earned cash. You’re making it difficult to do business with you.

Admit it, this bricking up of holes in the wall and rationalising of branches is because it’s convenient and cheaper for you – it has zip to do with your customers’ needs and wants.

We all know about the cash-in-transit heists. If that’s the issue, well thank you so much for increasing my personal insecurity to improve yours. You have dealt your fantastic brand loyalty a massive dent.

I wish banks would put their egos aside and have agnostic ATM’s – surely that would be a win-win for all?  It would cost less for the banks and they could pass the cost saving onto their customers and we could draw money at any ATM.

The #1 Reason Your Website Might be Ruining Your Customer Experience

The proverbial customer journey begins with ‘awareness’. These days awareness often starts digitally. Organisations spend considerable time, effort, and money driving traffic to their spot on the internet. The truth is website visitors immediately start forming opinions. Expectations are being set. For better or worse.

Websites are how organisations present themselves to the world. Much like a shopfront in a traditional brick and mortar store.

Let’s take this analogy a little further…

 

Websites…A Digital Shopfront

Businesses design shop displays to entice a passer-by into the store with the hope of them becoming a customer. Visual Merchandising switch-ups keep things fresh, attracting both new and returning customers. Think about the information a person could obtain before they stepped over the threshold. A shiny open sign welcomes would-be customers. A shopper can find out opening times and acceptable payment methods. And who can resist a sign that reads ‘New Stock’, ‘Sale’, ‘End of Season Discounts’?

Yes, a well-maintained physical shopfront requires regular consideration, alterations, and effort. The same should be true of an organisation’s website.

Admittedly, this will take a more intentional approach. A physical shop owner would see and walk past their shopfront daily. The need for tweaks or complete overhauls would be obvious.

How often should an online business owner check their website? It’s easy to think of website creation as a once and done task to tick off the ‘How to set up a business’ to-do list. But a website that contributes to a successful customer experience needs consistent attention.

The expectations your customer has, are intrinsically linked to the information they glean from a visit to your website. Consider this blog as your gentle nudge to audit your website. And once you’re done, build time into your schedule to review it regularly.  And very importantly, your staff should know the content of your website well.

When building or updating your website, of course, you should think about navigation, user experience, graphics, and the rest. But when it comes to setting customer expectations, the key is to ensure that all the information presented is accurate. Misinformation or unrealistic claims sets you up for providing a disappointing customer experience.

 

A Cautionary Tale…

By way of an example, let me share one of my recent experiences. On a special occasion, I arranged for a troop of my friends and our kids to meet for lunch. There were 26 of us in total. Not only did the restaurant need to cater for our large party, but my two dogs.

After looking at a few restaurant websites, I made my choice. It was there in black and white… “pet friendly.” So, I called. Yes, they could accommodate us all and yes dogs are welcome. Great.

I arrived at the restaurant with my two (tiny) pooches. Hopes of a fun-filled and carefree afternoon soon faded away. A snooty manager sauntered over to tell me that our table was on an indoor balcony section. Dogs are only permitted outside.

What was I to do? My only option was to drive 30 minutes, settle the doggies at home, and drive 30 minutes back to re-join the party.

Now, I know, that being late to a lunch I had arranged is not a devastating, life-altering event. But, let me tell you, I was frustrated and furious.  The food was good and the setting delightful, but none of this mattered. The whole meal was marred by the restaurant failing to live up to one statement on their website. And guess what my first thought would be if the restaurant asked me for a google review…

Can you relate? I am sure most have a similar story of being presented with promises, only to be let down. How did you feel? Disappointed? Underwhelmed? Frustrated? All the above?

 

Customer Expectations vs Customer Experience

 

Rather than creating returning customers, broken promises create unhappy customers. A potential brand advocate transforms into a disparaging reviewer.

Simply put, a standard customer or client (from a B2B perspective) experience is when expectations are met. A great customer experience is when expectations are surpassed.

No business or organisation wants to disappoint a customer. Setting the right expectations extends beyond traditional advertising and customer service training.

For your best chance to set appropriate customer expectations, check (and keep refining) your website.

Information should be accurate.

Promises should be delivered.

Always.

B2C markets have been using Customer Loyalty Programs for decades. Can they be as useful in B2B markets?

Why Your B2B Should Have a Loyalty Reward Program

A quick look in the slots where bank cards should sit in my wallet is revealing. Firstly, I could do with a receipt purge and secondly, customer reward programs are ubiquitous in the B2C world. From cafes to shops to gyms. There are few consumers immune to a juicy perk for remaining loyal to a particular brand. Rewarding loyalty enhances the customer experience, aids client retention, and builds brand engagement. Rewards programs in the business-to-business arena are gaining popularity. In this article, we will look at why loyalty programs work and how you can measure their success.

 

Why do loyalty programs work?

Loyalty programs work because they help customers feel valued and appreciated. It’s not just about giving the consumer the warm and fuzzies. Tapping into these emotions leads to increased retention, referrals, and revenue. Loyalty schemes help businesses stand out from their competition. They can also incentivise desired customer behaviour.

Granted, in the B2B space, customers are a less studied group than their B2C counterparts. And considerably more difficult to define. Often, B2B companies will be targeting a team of buyers, rather than an individual. But, that team is still made up of people guided by the same emotions as those targeted in B2C marketing strategies. Developing relationships with B2B customers can be extremely beneficial.

 

Should B2B Companies Reward Customer Loyalty?

The short answer is yes, B2B companies should reward customer loyalty. Why?

Acquiring a new client can cost five times as much as keeping one. It is worth strategising to keep the customers you have happy and loyal to your brand. The best loyalty programs can also be considered customer retention programs.

According to Lumio, at least 80% of B2B buyers are not only looking for but expect a buying experience like that of a B2C customer. That’s a high number of clients who want to feel valued and appreciated on their B2B customer journey.

The ramifications of a customer loyalty program for B2B businesses are huge. Arguably, they are just as important as they are for consumer-facing businesses.

What does customer loyalty look like in the B2B world? Because loyalty may manifest itself in different ways, it’s challenging, but possible, to quantify. You can use the following three metrics to measure customer loyalty:

  1. Repeat Customer Rate (RCR)

How many of your consumers return to buy from you? This indicator measures how long clients stay with your company after making their initial sales. You can track RCR with your customer relationship management system. Use RCR as a benchmark for measuring the performance of your loyalty programs and initiatives. You can measure this monthly to see what percentage of consumers are returning to you as your loyalty efforts progress.

  1. Customer lifetime value (CLV)

This metric calculates the profit generated by each of your customers during their relationship with you. Calculate the CLV for each of your clients’ using data on annual revenue, buy frequency, and sale trends. Identify your highest-value consumers and find out what is keeping them connected to your brand. This may unlock what is preventing loyalty among your lower-value customers.

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS reveals how likely your customers are to suggest your product or service to a friend or colleague. Your customers becoming ‘mini-marketers’ on your behalf is one of the most obvious ways to assess customer loyalty.

Any one of those three indicators will offer you useful information about how loyal and engaged your customers are. If you consider these markers altogether, they can provide a full picture of how successful your loyalty program is.

 

The Global B2B Brands using Loyalty Programs

 

IBM’s Loyalty program is one of the most well-known B2B loyalty programs available. The scheme has two main goals.

1)To show appreciation by rewarding customers for their current activities

2) To encourage members to learn more about IBM’s services.

To do this, IMB’s program includes:

 

Is a B2B Loyalty Program right for your brand?

Efforts to improve client experience demonstrates to customers that you care. As a result, these customers will become loyal and buy from you again and again. Make a connection with your present clients. A loyal customer will continue to engage with your brand and tell their friends and family about it. Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing go hand in hand.

Your expectations vs customer needs: mind the gap

If you check out the meaning of the word hospitality, the internet will tell you it’s about “the friendly and generous reception of guests, visitors or strangers.”

 

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it – kind of like that feeling you get when you visit someone’s home for the first time, and they greet you at the front door with a big smile. They’re warm and inviting, and you can tell they’ve used their Jamie Oliver cookbooks and taken out the good gin.

 

That’s the sort of welcome I expect from hotels, too. In my mind, the entire hospitality industry – whether a five-star tribute to architectural elegance, complete with million-count cotton sheets or a cosy Airbnb tucked away in the middle of nowhere – one should feel like they are visiting the home of a friend who cares for you very deeply and wants nothing more than to make you feel special. The clue is in the name, right? In the ‘hospitality’ industry, warmth should be standard.

 

That’s why I found my January holiday a little disappointing. My teenage son and I decided to treat ourselves to a trip up the Cape East Coast. After a tough year, we were looking forward to stunning sunsets, delicious seafood, and small-town getaway spots where we could truly relax.

 

I can’t fault the sunsets or the seafood, but when it came to the accommodation, we felt something was seriously lacking. After a lot of online investigation, we had booked ourselves into a Guesthouse that had all the right credentials: fantastic reviews, beautiful pictures, a great location, and so on and on.

 

This isn’t a horror story intending to warn you about the two-faced nature of the Internet, and how pictures aren’t to be trusted. Far from it: the establishment was just as lovely as its website (and past guests) promised. It was in immaculate condition and the décor was gorgeous – everything looked perfect.

 

Too perfect, actually. After just a few days, it became clear that our hostess had made a great effort to ensure that everything was just so and that she was determined that it should remain that way.

 

That’s all very well if you’ve curated a great look for a magazine spread, or a show house model – but when there are people moving about a home, there’s bound to be some disruption. Even the tidiest among us may accidentally bump a table, move a chair, or shift a cushion so that we’re more comfortable. And in a place where hospitality was truly valued, that wouldn’t be an issue, but in our case, our host seemed determined to keep us in line. She would passively-aggressively ask us to please not touch anything and wouldn’t even allow my “always hungry” teen to bring takeaway food into his room.

 

So, after feeling as though I was living inside a museum plastered everywhere with ‘look don’t touch’ posters, with that irritating little rhyme stuck in my head (“lovely to look at, delightful to hold, but if you should break it consider it sold), I got thinking: which is more important? Staying in a place that looks amazing? Or feeling like you’re in a home away from home? I was so caught up in the question that I created an online poll on Linkedin, and the responses backed up what I already thought: 85% of respondents said they value hospitality and comfort when they stay somewhere, compared to 10% who place a higher priority on features and amenities. Just 6% said they consider style and aesthetics to be the most important.

 

The message? As always, it’s about putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Yes, I may have appreciated our hostess’s efforts to create a beautiful environment – but I will certainly never return to that Guest House,  nor will I recommend it to others. If she had taken the time to consider my needs, rather than placing emphasis on what she thought was important, I probably would been a “return guest”.

 

I wonder how many of us have fallen into a similar trap?

These SA companies totally nailed their CX in 2021

In business, there’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve hit the mark with your efforts, and even better, being recognised for a job well done. Since it’s been a tough ‘ how many months/years now?’ of surviving a global pandemic, giving credit where it’s due is an important part of keeping our spirits up.

While we often hear a lot of CX success stories on the international front (and it’s great to learn from them), today I thought I’d put the spotlight on a few CX champions that hail from our very own shores.

So, in this blog post, I’ve cherry-picked a few examples to share with you of local companies that in my opinion have weathered the COVID storm with notable grace, and quite frankly, nailed their CX in 2021.

 

Sun International 

Boasting premier entertainment and hotel designations across the country, the hospitality group has been quick to adapt to the covid-induced blow to the tourism industry, by keeping their most valued guests at the front and centre. Good call because client retention is far cheaper than client acquisition.

Turning to tech to enhance and improve their CX in 2021, Sun International introduced a nifty little app to help streamline communication for their most-valued guest programme (MVG). The app makes things easier for guests to view best available rates, assess how many reward points they have to redeem, and access important information at the click of a button. Super convenient when you think about how frustrating it can be to deal with outdated websites or waiting on hold while the front- desk scrambles to assist you.

Understanding that their guests want instant access to information in a way that’s easy to navigate, is evident of the group’s commitment to implementing a CX strategy based on customer feedback and insights.

According to Sun International CEO, Anthony Leeming, the users of the app can enjoy a richer, more interactive experience with the brand. Sounds blissful!

The CX lesson?  Make it easy to do business with you.  Stay on top of your customer needs and design your customer experience accordingly.

 

Arrowhead properties 

Remember the landlord and tenant war that made headlines in the early days of lockdown? Embroiled in arduous negotiations for days on end, landlords and retail tenants argued over the payment of rent. I’ve always found that a big problem in the property sector is the disconnect and trust between the tenant and landlord. Unfortunately, many landlords don’t view the tenant as a customer. This is especially apparent in the retail and commercial space.

One property group that was quick to remember during lockdown that tenants are in fact customers, was Arrowhead Properties. The commercial property group which owns a portfolio of retail, office, and industrial assets demonstrated empathy for what their tenants were going through, and as such, provided approximately R 82 million in rental relief.

With a clear focus on tenant retention, this act of compassion yielded great reward, as the group’s interim results in May last year showed overall client retention of 85%, up from the year before. Arrowhead COO and co-founder, Mark Kaplan, said that they decided to shift strategic focus from an emphasis on sales to enhancing returns on properties through a ’tenant-centric’ approach – putting the tenants at the heart of all property management decisions.

Further to this, the group has made environmental, and social factors an integral part of their business. Their social initiative, Arrow for Change’ was launched in 2021 and has positively impacted communities that have been severely affected by COVID-19.

The CX lesson?  You can’t put a price on customer relationships, and you certainly can’t ignore the power of empathy. Moving into 2022, something to also consider is that being socially conscious is a huge part of how your customer experiences your brand.

 

Checkers

I’d be remiss not to give Checkers a mention, given the retail giants insatiable appetite for innovation. It appears the stars aligned when they launched the Checkers Sixty60 app just a few months before the hard lockdown in early 2020, making it the perfect on-demand grocery solution for customers who didn’t want to leave the house.

Rolling out to 146 more stores in the past year alone, it’s safe to say the app has been a smashing success. In fact, I read that it is the number one grocery app in the country. Impressive stuff! So, what’s their secret? Well not only are they aggressively proactive, but they are really good at listening to their customers.

Case in point. As part of their new digital tech hub, ShopriteX, last year the group made their in-store Xtra Savings reward programme available on the Sixty60 app in response to customers asking to have the same deals online. According to Neil Schreuder, Chief of Innovation & Strategy at the Shoprite Group, “ our customers asked, so we listened.” That easy hey? Yes, apparently it can be.

These guys seem determined to lead  the ‘quick commerce’ revolution, and what’s working in their favour is that they just fundamentally ‘get’ their customer. Take their new pilot concept, Checkers Rush,  for example – an automated, cashless, “no queues, no checkout, no waiting” store. Who doesn’t want that?

Okay before I stop CX ‘fangirling’ over Checkers, can we just take a quick moment to acknowledge what an awesome touch the Sixty60 drivers Santa outfits were over the December holidays?

The CX lesson?  Know thy customer, innovate, and most importantly NEVER stop improving your product or service.

 

 

CEOS take note: The pandemic has brought about a fundamental shift in what customers see as your ‘product.’

CEOS take note: The pandemic has brought about a fundamental shift in what customers see as your ‘product.’ 

The mistake we see a lot of companies making is they treat their product and CX as two different things, when in fact CX is the product. The CX community and trend forecasters have touted CX as being the number one differentiator over price and product since 2020, and while this is true, I believe these last 20 months have inspired a fundamental shift in the customer’s idea of product. If we look at what the insights are telling us about customer behaviour and how it’s changing, companies can’t afford to be separating their product or offering from CX efforts. Moreover, CEOs can no longer be removed from the CX process. They have to be the main drivers of  a CX strategy if it’s going to have any real meaning in an organisation’s output.

 

How product and experience are intertwined 

An interesting conversation to come out of our recent CX Masterclass was around the disconnect between expectation and experience. While a client’s expectations may have been met in terms of the product or offering, it does not necessarily imply they had a good experience. This divide is a result of the product being measured based on meeting the client’s expectations only and not against the holistic experience. What does that mean exactly? Well, if you’re just going by expectation, you’re only concerned with giving your client the product or service they paid for (e.g., taking out a specific insurance policy). But that’s not enough anymore. Your client can get a similar, if not the very same product elsewhere. It’s their interaction with the product or offering that determines whether or not they will be a repeat customer.

Sticking with the insurance policy example, to truly deliver a good ‘product,’ you would need to ask yourself if the communication was clear throughout the process? If the broker was pleasant to deal with? If he or she was knowledgeable about the policy being sold? If he acted within in the best interests of the client etc.

Do you see how product and CX can essentially become one? This synergy is what today’s customer wants. The pandemic has forced companies to not only jack up digital transformation, but also step up their personalised marketing efforts, and become more transparent in their communication. Getting this right requires going beyond just the functionality of a product or service, so you’d be remiss to think that customers are going to expect anything less than a seamless holistic experience as we head into the ‘post-pandemic years.

 

Why pick on  CEOs? Don’t they have enough on their plate? 

Only a few short years ago, the key to business success was having the best quality product on the market at the most affordable price. However, today, this will only get you so far. CX has changed the game completely, and the companies that are winning the game have cottoned on to the fact that their clients want more, they understand that they want to do business with companies that go the extra mile, and that provide them with value through authenticity and connection.

According to a 2021 report by Deloitte, a study of almost 2,500 end-users in April this year, found one in four people will walk away from companies they believe acted in self-interest. The reason this is so significant is that it ties directly into how customer-centric an organisation is or is not. CEOs who are still operating on a price and product first business model will have a very limited view of what makes their clients tick, and in turn, so will their employees.

 

The misalignment of KPIs

What I find is that too many CEOs preach about how they prioritise CX, but if you go down the food chain, heads of departments and employees are operating according to very different KPIs. For example, the procurement departments of a lot of bigger corporates act as their profit centres and are usually offshore. They aren’t aligned with a bigger ‘customer-centric picture, all they are concerned about is squeezing every last penny they can out of their customers. They’re looking only at the numbers on the sales sheets. Where is the customer in all of this? Putting the customer’s interests ahead of your sales target requires a certain level of CX maturity, and that folks is a gap I believe needs to be filled by the CEO. If the CEO is not living and breathing customer-centricity, how can you expect it from employees and external suppliers?

Ironically, in a recent poll we ran on Linkedin, we asked which department head should be responsible for driving the CX strategy. An overwhelming majority listed the CEO as the man for the job….BUSTED! Even those in your very own company are looking at you Mr/Ms. CEO to lead the CX way. And if you’re going to make it through the aftermath of the covid storm, you’re going to have to be the glue that holds the CX strategy together. More importantly, you’ll need to ensure that CX has a very prominent seat at the table alongside both price and product.

Breaking up can be hard, but you make it so easy!

 

Breaking up can be hard, but you make it so easy!  

 

I had an experience a while ago that set my CX senses tingling, in all the wrong ways. After a long, mostly satisfactory, relationship with a service provider I’m going to call “John”, I needed to make a change. My reason for cancelling my subscription service had nothing to do with John. Sincerely, all my interactions with ‘him’ at every touchpoint had been good. Not “set my world alight good”, but at the very least, solid and reliable. So, to my mind, I was leaving with fondness and a thought of, “maybe one day I’ll want ‘him’ back…”

 

The response from John started off as expected, “What did I do wrong?” “Is there anything I can do to change your mind?” And then the cat and mouse game began. You know the one, where it becomes nearly impossible to cancel the service. You’re forced to jump through hoops on end, get passed along from pillar to post, only to land up back where you started. Why I ask? Why do they make is so hard to say goodbye? Don’t they understand that neglecting this customer experience touchpoint, will sour the possibility of you ever returning?  After-all, us humans are fickle bunch. We don’t always know what we’ve lost until it’s gone.

 

So, I thought I’d pen a little break-up note to said provider:

 

DEAR JOHN

 

Ending a long-term contract can be like breaking up… Something has changed, and we make the decision that it is time to let go and move on; but we have invested a lot of time and energy into this relationship. As humans, we struggle with change and want to be loyal. No matter how difficult a situation may be, it is hard to make, or take, that break.

 

It’s not you, it’s me

 

There are a thousand reasons to end a relationship, business or personal, and it often has nothing to do with you, John. I may have hit financial troubles, be moving to a different city or country, or I may just have fallen for a shiny new partner, promising me the world.

 

It’s over, but I still want to be friends

 

Even if you, John, let me down or increased the pressure (or pricing) or we had a bad moment, there is a shared history and memories of the good times just below the surface. In either case, leaving the one you’re with can be difficult and we may be uncertain if we are making the right decision. So, we approach the ending of the relationship with mixed feelings.

 

And here is where it can so easily go wrong… How you, John, take on “the talk” will be the final arbiter of our shared future. Will we be left with a sense of regret or relief at the decision we have made?

 

The 1988 power ballad

 

The easier the parting, the more difficult the decision. If you are fair and let me go with kindness and understanding, that is the memory I carry. When someone mentions your name, I remember the parting as sweet sorrow and speak kindly of you.

 

Over time, the reason I made the decision to leave becomes hazier and I hear the 80s hair band singing “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”… And if our circumstances change, or the new partner doesn’t live up to their promise? We regret leaving and feel safe returning, more loyal than we ever were.

 

 

Despite the CPA clearly laying out consumer rights with regards to the cancelling of long-term contracts, service providers like John too often find ways to skirt the edges of the law. The endless complaints on social media or review platforms, where people are still being charged for canceled services months later, or even being handed over or blacklisted, are appalling!

 

Service providers, listen up… I’ve said it before and I am saying it again, Customer Experience is about the feeling your customer has about you from the moment your eyes meet across a crowded room until long after the relationship ends. Ending a contract isn’t personal and putting your customers through Squid Game to free themselves will leave you with a depleted and resentful client pool. Set them free with enough care and ease that they think of – and speak of – you as the one that got away.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of CX 

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of CX 

Is it just me or has CX entered the land of the Wild Wild West? Frequently labelled a ‘frivolous’ concept by the uninformed, Customer Experience actually has little to do with ‘warm and fuzzy’ and more to do with core fundamental business principles. It relies heavily on due diligence, governance, and most importantly, strategy. The pandemic has forced companies to innovate and wake up to CX which has been a huge win for the customer (the good), but oftentimes businesses don’t have a real strategy in place (the bad). This is when we start to see lawlessness taking over and the CX cracks begin to show (the ugly).

 

Shooting from the hip

Hurry up and automate, hurry up and digitise, hurry up and offer your service online. Sound familiar? Chances are you’re experiencing this panic in your own organisation, and rightly so. You do need to innovate and move with the times; you can’t afford to get left behind. But doing so with haste and impulse will not be of service to the customer in the long term. There are a lot of boxes that need to be ticked before implementing a digital CX strategy. What many companies are doing is relying on external tech vendors to magically solve their problems, without any real immersion into the process or genuine customisation. On top of this, they don’t have any metrics in place to measure the performance of a new system, or they haven’t a clue what to do with the customer data. This all comes down to not taking the necessary time to develop a proper plan. I can think of a few examples where, as a customer I’ve been excited about the automation of a service, only to be let down by its execution or functionality. The ‘Mobile Experience’ is a prime example. Banking apps can make things super complicated, and I’d be here all day if I had to list my woes with the local grocer app. Answer me this, why can I never find what I’m looking for in the search bar, but yet the item is theoretically on the ‘digital shelf?’ My worst is when an online system won’t recognise my login and password when it’s worked previously. Yes, subscription sites, I’m looking at you!

I wish more companies knew that rushing their innovation ‘plans’ is just plain reckless. You have to deliver a customer’s experience on the customer’s terms, not yours. All I hear around boardroom tables is the word DEADLINE. While deadlines are important, they hold us accountable, I think we sometimes allow them to compromise the integrity of a project.

You should never be chasing a deadline to please the higher-ups in the organisation or certain stakeholders if the customer will suffer as a result. This is short-sighted and the sales chart will reflect it.

 

Getting back in the saddle

So, let’s get back to those CX principles I was talking about. Really good CX strategies live by the basics. They are goal-orientated, structured, and revolve 100% around the customer’s journey at EVERY touchpoint.

Not every good idea is a good idea. All proposed CX improvement needs to be dissected, put back together, and then dissected again.  Ultimately what you want to achieve is a more consistent approach to your CX strategy. This can be slower at times but will yield more effective results.

I will be unpacking fundamental CX principles in detail at our upcoming CX Masterclass. Join us on 21 & 22 October (2021) at the CTICC and learn how to build a solid CX framework. We teach you how to really get under the skin of your customer and provide practical CX tools that you can start using right away.

See here for more information: https://www.nlightencx.com/customer-experience/workshops/master-class/

True or false: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it?

True or false: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it?

The quote in the title of this blog was allegedly made famous by management consultant, Peter Drucker. I say allegedly because some of the internet trolls will tell you that it actually wasn’t Mr. Drucker, but another mystical business economist. There’s also an ongoing debate about if it was indeed quality and process control guru W. Edwards Deming who challenged Mr. Drucker by saying “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” On both sides, you will find streams of arguments that are either in support of Mr. Drucker’s quote or aim to debunk it.

I stand firmly by this quote, and not just because I’ve spent 16 years building a CX company that is underpinned by the measurement philosophy, but because it just makes sense! How can you improve on an offering if its success cannot be tracked? If you don’t have a clear metric in place to measure your progress, all you have is guesswork and we all know that assumption is the mother of.

A lot of business leaders we chat to, who still aren’t yet sold on the power of CX (wakey wakey), will tell us that if sales are looking good, there’s no reason to invest in ‘costly’ metrics and deeper insights. Yes, this is what we have been told, in the age of data and tech, we STILL get businesses telling us that measurement is not a financial priority right now. The real issue, however, is not the investment in the metrics, it’s managing the data. They aren’t quite sure what to do with it. So, our job then becomes one of educating businesses on what managing the data actually looks like and highlighting the return on this investment.

If you’re one of these businesses that are on the measurement fence, here’s a little crash course in what measurement can do for you:

Track client satisfaction – figures on the sales chart only give you half the picture. Just because your new product is currently moving, this does not guarantee repeat or long-term business. Customers can be fickle. It doesn’t take a lot to turn their heads and move on to the next supplier. Those handsome sales figures can start to look very different in only a few months. Understanding what makes your clients tick will go a long way in gaining their trust and loyalty. This will not only assist client retention but help with acquisition too.

Incentivise clients to use your product or service –by measuring the success of your product or service, you can structure a rewards programme that adds continuous value to the lives of your customer. By this, I mean finding the win-win. Let me use the Discovery Insure programme as an example. By tracking their client’s driving behaviour, they can improve on their rewards programme in a way that incentivises customers to keep driving with the tracker. Drive well and get a free set of tyres (customer win). Good tyres and responsible driving habits equal lower insurance claims (business win).

Hold employees accountable – by tracking data and measuring client satisfaction, a business can identify where the cracks are in the system. This can then be looped back to employee performance and KPIs.

Lower your operational costs – insights into what’s working and what’s not enable you to change your approach. If you discover that an expensive digital system you’ve put in place is actually not serving your customer, you can re-assess. We’ve had clients that have used customer insights to cut operational costs dramatically, just by being able to identify unnecessary process or systems in their business. Customers can be amazing ‘tools’ for business growth, you just have to listen to them.

Ongoing value offering through agility – a well-oiled machine is what you’re after. If you can commit to regular measurement and tracking of progress, you can become agile. Today’s customer insights are not going to serve you in 12 months’ time. It’s an ongoing process and one that keeps you adaptable and ahead of your competitors. All because you consistently add value to your customer.

 

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