By Jarrett Schmidt, Senior Vice President of Sales
Create great customer experiences. For an ever-growing number of businesses, that’s the golden goal — the El Dorado of customer care.
But as new theories, technologies and market demands continue to sprout, business owners and leaders can soon find themselves enclosed by thick vegetation. Soon, the once-clear path has fallen out of sight.
Fortunately, with a little guidance and by asking the right customer experience questions, you can cut your way through the foliage. Before revamping your IVR or contact center, start by looking at your business from the inside out to regain your bearings, see where you can improve and learn which factors are merely a distraction.
Review your organization with these 30 customer experience question in six groups, and before long, the path through the jungle will be clear again.
1. CX Characteristics
- Have you mapped your customers’ journey across the lifecycle from awareness through advocacy?
- Do you show that you know and remember them?
- Are you collecting feedback both directly and indirectly?
- Are you pre-empting the need for service with proactive notifications?
- Do you find ways to surprise and delight customers and help them do more than they first planned?
All these customer experience questions can be summed up in one phrase: know your customer. Do they prefer one channel over another? Are they interested in artificial intelligence? Are they responsive to proactive service? Businesses who don’t know their customers are caught walking in circles and grasping at vines, hoping one of them won’t snap.
2. Organizational Structure
- Have your internal structures and processes been reviewed from your customers’ point of view?
- Have you aligned your organization’s structure to the CX, rather than product, channel or function?
- Is your workplace culture, including behavioral expectations of employees, aligned with the intended CX?
- Do your automated systems support collaboration to drive business success in a customer-centric way?
- Do you have a CX management strategy or CX leader in place?
Without the right structure, you’re walking into the jungle with board shorts and flip flops. Consider these customer experience questions carefully before adopting any customer experience strategy to set yourself up for success.
3. Interaction Strategy
- Have you developed automated and self-service tools and channels to proactively engage customers?
- Are goals for brand communication set relative to the entire customer journey?
- Can people choose their channel and interaction preferences with self-service tools?
- Do you honor data privacy with a focus on building trust, rather than to simply avoid legal risks?
- Do your customer engagement strategies align with the overall business strategy?
Know your short- and long-term goals and how you’ll achieve them. But most importantly, give your customers the freedom to interact on their terms. Customer preference is a key component of exceptional experiences.
4. Technology: Hardware and Software
- Have you pointed out and audited all customer interaction channels?
- Are you decommissioning legacy systems and bringing in scalable, cloud-based technology?
- Do you have a systematic approach to integrate channels and data into a cohesive communication ecosystem?
- Do you have a functional omnichannel environment, including shared business rules, customer data, reports and visibility?
- Have you prepared for the integration of emerging technologies in the future?
Having the right technology is like having the right gear. You can be a skilled adventurer, but without water, a compass and supportive footwear, your jungle excursion isn’t going to last long. And since new obstacles sprout up every day in the customer experience jungle, make sure your technology ecosystem is prepared for present-day needs and is ready to adapt for change tomorrow.
5. Data Environment and Analytics
- Is data accurate, up to date and in compliance with all regulations?
- Have you brought key data points and business rules into a single view?
- Have you employed skilled business analysts to conduct thorough data analysis?
- Are you analyzing cause-and-effect links in data to predict user intent and streamline interaction?
- Are systems in place to automate data analysis and prescribe the next best action in real time?
You can’t know your customers without thorough and accurate data. Gather data by either asking for it or by analyzing your customers’ behavior. What channel are they using to get in touch with you? Are they calling from a cell phone or a landline? The more data you have, the clearer picture you’ll have for your single customer views, each of which makes up one coordinate on your customer experience journey map.
- Have you identified and explained business success measures?
- Are metrics aligned to hold functions accountable and help teams and employees see and measure their own impact on the CX?
- Do you have a proven system of checks and balances in place to qualify and address unsatisfactory results?
- Are you able to articulate the value of each individual customer?
- Do you have measurable proof that your CX is reinforcing brand loyalty and advocacy?
Finally, don’t forget to continue asking important customer experience questions even after you’ve put your strategy into action. Identify important success measures and see if your company meets them. Then, determine how much of that success is due to your improvements in customer experience. If you decide the experience impact is small, it may be time to head back into the weeds and carve out another path.
Remember, even if you’re seeing short-term success despite a poor customer experience strategy, it’s important to keep the experience factor as a high priority. Modern customers often choose a business based on their experiences rather than price or product. So prioritizing customer experience today will keep you much better positioned for the future.
More Customer Experience Questions to Light the Way
These 30 customer experience questions represent only a handful of the questions you need to ask to create a complete strategy and journey map. But if these felt a little overwhelming, I invite you to check out our online customer experience assessment. It has even more guidance in an intuitive survey format. Plus, you’ll get a score at the end that shows exactly what you need to do next so you can find the right path.
But if you’d prefer to read more about what it takes to build exceptional experiences, check out this blog post about crafting customer experiences for the self-service generation. Or you can also get a personal tour through the jungle from one of our CX guides by calling or texting West Interactive Services at 800.841.9000.
With the right characteristics, structure, strategy, technology, data and metrics, finding your way through the jungle of customer experience opportunities can be much less stressful. Start by asking the right customer experience questions, and you’ll be on the right path in no time.
Jarrett has been with West Corporation for eight years. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and currently serves as senior vice president of sales. Jarrett connects clients with the right technology solutions to spur growth and create exceptional customer experiences. He has also served as West’s mid-market director of the Asia Pacific and has been the company’s representative director and general manager of business in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.