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Creating inspired experiences
Friction slows you down, it creates heat, it causes discomfort, and when your customers feel it in their journey with you, it diminishes their experience and makes them less likely to return.
Fighting friction in the customer experience takes a unified and well-planned effort. A restaurant is a visceral example of the amount of effort that goes into a frictionless customer experience. From the diners’ perspective, they’re seated, give their order, and get their food with little knowledge of the army of hosts, servers, cooks, and others behind the scenes ensuring a friction-free experience.
The effort to build a frictionless customer experience (CX) in any industry works much the same way, and to do it right you need to implement a unified strategy. But what’s holding you back from creating a frictionless experience for customers?
How Party City applied CX insights to create a more seamless experience
Here we talk about four common roadblocks to building a frictionless CX and how you can overcome them.
Almost every department in a customer-focused company impacts the customer experience. How are you bringing feedback together in one holistic view to represent your customer? How are your teams sharing insights about the customer experience?
If each of your departments has their own approach to track customer feedback and iterate on CX, coming up with a unified, frictionless experience for your customers would practically have to happen by accident. If you truly want to optimize the customer experience, you must unify your CX data, insights, and overall effort to improve CX with the cooperative input and oversight of every team that interacts with customers. Having teams work together holistically also helps identify and address CX needs upstream or downstream from any given department.
For a CX program to be truly effective, goals and insights should be aligned behind the customer. The problem is any major organization has a number of teams with different core objectives, and while they aren’t necessarily competing, they don’t always pull in the same direction.
Your teams have been doing quality work on CX, but only from their specific perspective. Jessi Clements, Valvoline Instant Oil Change’s Insights Manager, has advice from a recent Q & A for combining efforts and moving forward. “Celebrate work that has been done,” says Clements, “but also talk about how you can better understand and process a large volume of feedback.”
Consider ways to combine and track and share insights across the organization. If a team touches the customer in their journey, they should have a seat at the table. It’s critical to include the voice of your own teams from the field—including HR and Operations—to have input on real-world experiences as they happen, not necessarily how you expect them to be.
This strategy and approach to data collection, sharing, and consideration is especially important for executive buy-in, since keeping track of disparate CX development efforts on a team-by-team basis would be almost impossible from the c-suite. By unifying the process, meaningful CX objectives can be uncovered and met quickly, making the whole process seem much more manageable.
You’re also going to need a way to collect, organize, and analyze your CX data in a unified platform, but we’ll get to tech and partnership momentarily.
There are any number of quotes about well-intended plans going wrong for no good reason. The COVID disruption of the last two years is a prime example. But the most successful are the ones who respond.
How good are your teams at coming up with adjustments to plans and procedures when things don’t go as expected? Are you set up to incorporate feedback from teams on the ground?
Frequently, strategic teams will establish what needs to happen to refine CX, but adoption in the field can be low because procedures don’t work as expected or there’s low buy-in. As such, not only should your unified CX team be set up to be able to quickly accept and act on feedback, but they need to keep in mind initiatives are always more successful when those executing them understand the “why.”
The key here is communication in two different ways.
First, as mentioned for the previous roadblock, strategic teams should be set up and prepared to impartially receive feedback from the field and quickly use it to inform modifications. Build a framework and pipeline that makes this feedback channel efficient and repeatable so you can continue to improve. Empowering front-line employees to be engaged and feel acknowledged is especially helpful here—consider including incentives for employees to participate or offer rewarding experiences for your teams to acknowledge their engagement and effort.
Secondly, communication around CX incentives to the front line should be focused on helping your team members understand the purpose behind CX efforts, promoting buy-in for participation, and highlighting the potential payoff for them. Be sure CX rollouts and requests don’t feel arbitrary. Additionally, organizations have had success by incorporating video into Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs so team members from across the organization can see the human face of their efforts.
By providing an avenue for feedback from customer interactions, recognizing contributions, giving context for CX programs, and humanizing CX efforts, you can create an environment that puts eyes and ears on your most important data point in optimizing the customer experience—the customers.
Now that all your teams are pulling in the same direction on unified objectives and you have engagement across the organization, how will you tell if you’re getting better?
After all, the memories of experiences your customer has as they interact across different channels move with them, and an experience your customer has online at one point can influence their expectations later in their journey. Is it clear how the cumulative effect of interactions is motivating non-purchasers to drop off or not convert?
As you work to move toward a seamless, interconnected, and frictionless customer experience, how are you tracking the effect of your adjustments?
Changes to your CX can have an impact across the organization, and if you don’t have a way to measure the effect of changes and adjustments you make, you’re iterating in the dark.
Any change you make needs to have two parts that go along with it:
Additionally, you can make your work more purpose-driven by setting your goals around the theme of key business objectives that also prove program ROI.
Once you have benchmarks that will help move you forward, establish listening posts in the right places based on your brand’s needs to pinpoint areas of friction. Measure against your benchmarks to assess the effect of your adjustments and be prepared to go back to the drawing board or further iterate on existing concepts. Change and refinement are ongoing processes.
If you truly want to create a frictionless, cross-channel experience, you must remain focused on lining your CX strategy up behind technology and processes moving you toward that objective. If part of your solution isn’t contributing—even if it’s something you’ve always done—you need to seriously consider moving on from it. Outdated tech, tech that isn’t providing useful insights, and tools that don’t integrate into your CX program might have to go.
Like from our first roadblock, here’s where a unified CX platform combining all your data and insights to follow the unified customer journey will make a big difference in helping to refine a frictionless customer experience.
In a customer-driven environment, the effort to create a seamless CX cannot run “in the background.” As we’ve discussed, it’s a significant endeavor that works across teams to unify data, input, and insights to continuously iterate and assess processes. It’s not a one-person job.
The fact is, a lot of CX professionals are working with a level of resources that can prevent them from being able to initiate, track, and iterate on organizational CX improvements at speed.
It can seem like a prohibitively difficult effort, but it’s not.
In the Valvoline CX Q & A we talked about earlier, Jessi Clements also said, “Find a vendor with a service model and make your team bigger.”
The good news is you don’t need to build a team for this effort from the ground up; a service partner can help launch, monitor, and iterate a CX program to work with your existing teams. What is most important is to find a partner who has the experience and level of support that will really move your work forward, not leave you to figure it out on your own.
A full-service CX partner will not only be able to provide technology that will unite your teams to collect and analyze your CX data under one umbrella, but they can also provide unique insight into best practices accelerating your efforts to create and refine a seamless customer experience.
Your fundamental goal in CX is to reduce obstacles and friction, not create more, and your entire strategy should be pulling in that direction. Including a unified approach, meaningful team engagement, a way to track improvement, and a team that can make it all happen under a unified platform and program will crush friction in your customer journey and help develop customers who return and recommend your brand.
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