How to design outstanding customer experience - from a CX expert

After spending a couple of decades talking about customer experience, one thing has become clear: organizations are more eager than ever to discuss this topic. What does it look like? How can we deliver it? How can we measure it? What is the secret to being a CX leader? I'm not alone in asking these questions. A quick Google search for 'What is customer experience?' returns a staggering 688,000 results, and the numbers are increasing1.

How to design outstanding customer experience - from a CX expert

It is one thing to talk about customer experience though and another to excel at it. As someone who is known to be a tad obsessed with CX, I’ve been fortunate to learn a thing or two in my career about not only what outstanding customer experience looks like but how to bring that vision to life.

In recent times, that has included working with one of Australia’s leading department store chains to transform their customer experience and while I’m not able to reveal its name, I’m more than happy to share aspects of our journey together to help other organizations achieve their own CX goals.

What is quality customer experience?

Given the millions of web pages dedicated to the CX conversation, it is fair to say that thousands of people have already shared their thoughts on this subject. Countless words. Lengthy definitions. Complex insights. I prefer to keep things simple, as evidenced by what I told our retail client when we first sat down to discuss working together.

“Customer experience is all about setting expectations and delivering on them.”

On this occasion, the client wanted our help to reinvent the way their contact centers engaged with their customers. They were not as close with their current service delivery approach and team as they wanted to be and, in turn, had lost touch with being close to their customers.

And this is where we do things differently in our search for CX excellence.

CX excellence – by the numbers

BLOG_Designing for outstanding customer experience #1 (Mark Spencer)_Graphics_US

Source: Infographic: The new rules of customer experience (pwc.com.au)

How to design for customer experience

We hold up a mirror to clients

One of the key things we have done for our clients is to help them understand how failing to meet expectations impacts CX. An example? Online orders for the latest gadgets were flooding in. Customers were excited. There was a genuine buzz around the brand - right up until that the product didn’t come out on time. Cue a horde of upset and angry customers inundating the contact center.

Quality customer experience helps brands deliver value and that comes when customers feel valued and achieve the right resolution when issues arise. That did not happen on this occasion and we held up a mirror to our client and explained how they had set an expectation and failed to deliver on it. Crucially, we also went a step further and helped the client address why the product had not come out on time.

A commitment to customers typically involves a complex line of people and a myriad of contributing factors. In this instance, there were suppliers, logistics teams and a range of delivery options (eg: couriers, parcel pick-up, drop shippers) and we helped identify where the breakdown had occurred and provided recommendations to close the gap between expectations and what is being delivered.

By providing clients with real insights into why customers are contacting them, we help them understand the root cause of any issues or problems they are facing, which is critical to designing outstanding CX.

We use tech to handle interactions faster and cheaper

Our client knew things had to change. Customers wanted more low-effort channels. Agents were spending far too long on calls. Their contact center featured complex pathways but lacked real-time insights. It was an environment designed for poor CX – but we changed that.

We completed an in-depth analysis of key call drivers and workforce management processes. We undertook a benchmarking exercise to understand what other large retailers were doing in this space. We then used People, Process and Technology to reimagine the future of customer experience for our client. Here is what our findings helped us achieve:

  • The establishment of three contact centers powered by digital-first technology.
  • The implementation of the AI-powered plugin Oration, which deflects calls, identifies callers and determines caller intent before customers even reach an agent.
  • The development of a virtual agent that acts as a self-service option.

The results speak for themselves - AHT has been slashed by almost 50%, online self-service rates have soared to 92% and 94% of calls are now directed to the right department in the right store.

We make our agents feel part of their team

Probe CX has our own set of values but we never lose sight of the fact we are acting on our clients’ behalf. We ensure our agents understand the culture and behaviors of the brand they are representing and the language that best resonates with its customers. The fact we have taken on responsibility for overseeing this client’s social media platforms highlights how well-embedded we are in their culture. Then there are the physical things we have done to create a strong synergy with our client. Our agents receive staff discounts just as they would if they worked directly for the company. One of our contact centers is located close to their headquarters so it is easy for them to spend time in our environment and vice versa. We have also created a Continuous Improvement Officer role to ensure someone is solely dedicated to raising the bar for that one client. It's all about maximizing the potential for superior customer experience.

BLOG_Designing for outstanding customer experience #1 (Mark Spencer)_Graphics_Customer experience and loyalty V2 (1)

Source: 9 Ways to Improve Customer Experience (superoffice.com)

We guide clients on their digital journeys

Our client is great at what they do. Retail is second nature to them, from running excellent stores to being exceptional at selling. What they are not are digital experts and that is where we come into play. While the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience has always been a challenge for companies, the emergence of new technologies means it has never been harder to navigate. What we do is guide them on that journey.

From self-service solutions and virtual agents to the emergence of generative AI, we are experts in how technology can be leveraged to boost customer experience. This expertise has ensured our client is not only keeping pace with the digital innovations of its competitors but leading the way. Crucially, the contact center solutions and tools that we have developed and deployed mean our client knows more about their customers than ever and that is to identify pain points, resolve friction points and increase sales.

We set expectations … and deliver on them

Every three months I have the pleasure of presenting a Quarterly Business Review to our retail client. With a focus on honesty and transparency, it is a chance to reflect on where we have come from, highlight where we are now and envision what is coming next. It is also an opportunity to share insights into how our digital initiatives are changing their contact center for the better.

During our most recent catch-up, I revealed that our voice deflection technology had rerouted 9,612 contacts to no-cost and low-cost services, virtual agents had been asked almost 1.5 million questions and 21,000 texts had been sent to customers about their deliveries, uncollected Click & Collects and order delays. Crucially, each of those interactions played a pivotal role in helping meet their customers’ expectations and, as I said from the start, that is the key to designing an outstanding customer experience.

The rush to do things faster and cheaper can come at a cost to customer experience. Discover how to create a CX strategy that works in a world where 59% of consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer service2.

About the Author

Mark Spencer is a senior leader who has spent 20 years specializing in customer experience leadership, operations and transformation. Known for his infectious enthusiasm, he has an unwavering obsession for high performance and oversees a significant CX portfolio spanning some of Australia’s best-known retail and logistics brands.

Reference:
[1] "What is customer experience" - Google Search
[2] Customer experience is everything: PwC

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