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Blindspotting Customer Experience: When Companies Think They re Good at Service, but Customers Say, No Way!

Roland Alston, Appian
August 23, 2018

"It's either a vase or two faces, depending on how you see it.... It's not that you can't see the other side, it's that you always have to work for it."

That's how Daveed Diggs, co-writer of a hot, new indie flick, defines "blindspotting."

It's the slang term created by one of the characters in his movie, to help her remember the illusion of Rubin's vase a picture that can appear to be two faces or a vase, depending on how you see it.

There's a parallel in business: When companies see only what they want to see, while neglecting to see what's in their blind spot.

Research, for example, reveals that 75% of business execs believe that their organization is focused on improving CX (Capgemini).

But only 30% of consumers agree.

Bridging this gap is the path to winning new customers and keeping more of the ones you already have.

customer centricity graph

Commodity CX is a Losing Approach

Here's the thing.

You don't have to do a Google search to realize the correlation between delivering superior CX and beating the commodity service rap.

But this is precisely where many companies stumble.

Customer satisfaction, for example, has flat lined for the fourth consecutive quarter a bad sign for business growth.

So says the latest research from The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

customer service trend graph

"Customer satisfaction will need to increase for the economy to grow at a faster pace," said David VanAmburg, Managing Director at the ACSI."It's tough to pinpoint one cause of the stagnation, but unless it budges, the national ACSI score paints a dire picture for consumer spending growth."

It's worth noting that CX will surpasses price and product as a key brand differentiator in 2020.

Here's another way to look at it: 70% of your business has something to do with how you make your customer feel.

It sounds "touchy-feely" when you read it, doesn't it?

But whatever you call it, drama-free customer interaction is your best path to customer satisfaction.

Moments of Truth

That's what CX management expert Connie Moore calls customer interactions.

"It's when customers get to a certain place in their interaction with an organization, and they have to make a decision to continue down the path, or do something different," says Moore, a Senior VP of Research at Digital Clarity.

Moore says that it's easier for a CX process to go well at the start of the customer journey, because that's where companies tend to focus on improving the early stages of customer interactions.

So, the phone call, chat bot, or texting experience goes well, and the company doubles down on the mobile app.

Your customer may get snagged when he gets deeper into the customer service process on the fulfillment or operational side because your back-end systems haven't been upgraded for years.

These systems may work fine from an operational standpoint. But what if they suck from a customer service viewpoint?

Here's why it matters.

Sixty-nine percent of consumers rate customer service a top factor in their loyalty to a brand (Microsoft).

Another 57% said they have higher expectations for customer service now than they did one year ago.

And 66% said they expect your organization to know who they are and why they're calling for service.

customer experience expectations graph

How to Respond to Customer Expectations?

Preparing to compete on service is a useful place to start.

But you can't do that if your:

    • Operations are running on yesterday's technology

    • Customer data is scattered across multiple systems with as many logins for contact center agents

    • Self-service process makes it harder for a customer to get the service they need

These kinds of snags in the customer journey are caused by business processes that haven't evolved, systems that can't talk to each other, and software that hasn't kept up with customer expectations.

"And usually snags happen the deeper you go into the process and the deeper you reach into the organization," says Moore. "So, it's kind of a fallacy that CX is all about what happens with sales and marketing and engaging customers at the top of the funnel. Which is where companies tend to put their focus."

Moore says that you have to move beyond sales and marketing and also focus on customer support.

For example, what if you're selling a technical product and something breaks, and your customer has to return it, and the whole service experience is lousy?

Or, what if your customer placed an order on your website, and service delivery goes badly, and the customer is not happy, and they call to complain?

"...The customer doesn't care how the company is organized, who does what, how things are handed off, the customer simply doesn't care. They just see the name of the company, they see the product or service they're trying to buy, and the rest of it is up to that company to figure out."So, if you blow it at the last step of the process, all that good will goes away, all of that loyalty unravels," says Moore.

contact center growth chart Source: Deloitte

Over 80% of global contact center execs say improving CX is the largest driver of contact center investment (Deloitte).

In contrast, just three percent are focused on revenue growth.

So, it appears companies are focusing on improving customer service. But looks can be deceiving.

"...I'll just give you a challenge," says Digital Clarity's Moore. "The next time a company asks for your phone number, zip code and birth date for the umpteenth time, tell them that they've asked for that information too many times, and to get that feedback to upper management, and see what they say."

"And you know they can automate a lot of the data record keeping about customer experience, but it's not a high priority," says Moore. "That's why the call center is still very much a cost center. So, why have a digital customer experience strategy, if you're not going to fix the last few miles in the process? Why bother, really?"

The question is, have you opened your eyes to the blind spots in the last mile of the customer journey in your organization?

If so, you might see that there's more work to do.