Tag Archive :Customer Experience

Customer Experience has become a buzz word, but the reality is that companies are using it interchangeably with other terms and that is creating confusion for what these roles are and what they should be doing. Some of this is due to how mature an organization is from a Customer Experience maturity level and at other times it is a lack of understanding or alignment on what Customer Experience is.

Customer Service is not Customer Experience

I realize this may be provocative especially for companies who are investing significant time and money within their customer service teams. I see many ads for Customer Experience Directors within LinkedIn and other online job boards. I get excited thinking about the number of companies investing in Customer Experience (CX). Then I read the job description and that excitement is greatly tempered. The role is to manage the service team first and incorporate CX into it. The roles may or may not include developing and improving journeys, but mostly it is about creating a wonderful experience for those engaging with the customer service team. So, how is this not customer experience?

Customer experience is defined as the emotional perception a customer has of the sum total of all the experiences they have with you and your product. If that is the case, the experiences a customer has with the service team is only a piece of that entire experience. Focusing on only those touchpoints ignores all the other ways a customer interacts with you such as your website, your sales efforts, the product itself, your email outreach and any other ways the customer may engage.  Your efforts with the service team are important, but they are not everything.

Digital Customer Experience isn’t the only Experience

Similar to customer service, your customer’s digital experience isn’t the only experience they are having. One could argue that if you have a SaaS product or are focused on digital outreach then tracking digital journeys are key to improving CX.

I beg to differ. I have helped to build digital journeys and corresponding metrics within a number of organizations. If done right, they are based on a persona and a segmentation and the metrics measure how and when the customers engage with various digital outreach whether email, the website, or a banner ad. You will also see some NPS or CES scores added to those metrics. The journeys show the path the customer takes, but what is missing often is the empathy and the emotional elements of the journey. The reason is that often that segmentation is based on demographics, but not on the psychographics and unmet needs a customer has. If a customer doesn’t click through to content, do you know why? Do you know if what you are providing them is fulfilling an unmet need?

Furthermore, there is more to the customer then their digital interactions. Do you have an account management team (B-to-B) or an implementation team? What is the customer’s experience with these teams? How do they differ from the help desk or service team? Even if most of your customer touchpoints are digital, what is the experience your customer is having with your product itself and do you know if your product and your messaging are responding to their unmet needs?

Customer Experience Manager within Service Delivery

Another team using the term Customer Experience is within the service delivery or account management team. Generally, in these instances the Customer Experience Manager/Director is utilized to oversee the experiences tied to the service delivery team for individual customers. If the account manager is managing day to day issues the CX Manager is theoretically looking at it more holistically

But, here again, this group is focused on the day-to-day and not the overall end-to-end experience of those customers. They aren’t developing and evaluating the customer journey, executing research, developing new processes or managing VoC – all things a corporate Customer Experience team will do. Internally, if a company has both a corporate CX team and Customer Experience Managers in service delivery there is inherent confusion on who is doing what simply by the nature of the titles.

What Should Companies Do?

I don’t want to say to all companies that what they are calling Customer Experience really isn’t. It isn’t that simple. All of the above areas are part of the customer’s experience with a company even if the title isn’t the traditional definition of CX. Additionally, how they are investing in the area of Customer Experience, how long customer experience has been utilized and the maturity of the organization all play into it. What’s more, I would venture that in most of the companies where they are using this alternate CX description they don’t have a dedicated CX team developing and managing VoC, journeys, and KPIs. Therefore, there isn’t confusion internally and they are working towards the same end – creating a best-in-class customer experience.

The reality is Customer Experience as a discipline is still nascent in many ways and the number of companies who have a dedicated Customer Experience team or professional that isn’t part of customer service or service delivery is limited.

I would offer a couple of recommendations:

  • Clearly define what Customer Experience means to your organization and develop a vision for it regardless of where it lives.
  • Limit the title of Customer Experience Manager to one department or job description. This will obviously limit the internal confusion and focus efforts around the journey.
  • Develop ways to understand, create and improve the end-to-end customer journey working closely across functional lines including marketing, service delivery, operations, and customer service.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to deliver a great customer experience. Regardless of where your company is on the CX maturity scale, make sure that everyone is aligned on what Customer Experience is within your organization.

You hear it over and over again during board meetings at synagogues and churches: “How do we get more members, and how do we make sure that our congregants pay their full dues, tithe, contribute at Sunday services?”

These are important questions, but the problem is they approach the problem from the wrong perspective. Board members are looking at the situation from the inside-out, from their perspective. They see the issues of dwindling membership and dues and giving growth as something they need to fix by simply changing the dues structure, giving approach or by advertising more.

If the boards looked at the issue from the outside-in perspective, they instead would ask themselves these questions: “What about the experience of joining or being a member does not appeal to the community, and how can we improve the experience so that we are a welcoming place that fulfills the needs of these prospective members?”

The reality is you need to understand the full journey the members are taking and what they want their ideal experience to look like, so that you can create an institution the prospective members want to be a part of.

Religious institutions of the past, with their dues or giving structure, religious services and focused on a central building, do not necessarily appeal to members of the millennial, Gen-Y and Gen-Z generations. These younger generations crave spirituality, but don’t want the same experiences as their parents or grandparents. As a result, many synagogues and churches struggle to figure out how to change and provide these new generations what they want and need, while not alienating their existing congregants.

Congregations need to think differently about how their institution looks to those outside of it. The simple truth  is that these generations view all their experiences through a new lens. According to PwC, among all customers, 73% point to experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, behind price and product quality. We need to remember that this mentality crosses all of their purchases, whether it is a new pair of jeans, a new car or membership in a religious institution.

One way to begin to answer this bigger question of how to change is to utilize the discipline of Customer Experience. Customer experience is the “the perceptions and feeling a customer has of the sum total of all touchpoints and experiences they have with your company, product or service.” It isn’t one single interaction, but all of them put together. By looking at the entire journey and pinpointing the areas that are most important to the target audience religious institutions may be able to solve this growth dilemma.

 To get started we need to look at the main elements of Customer Experience and how they can be applied to the issues facing religious organizations.

Use the Voice of the Congregant

Understanding how your future or current congregants feel about their experience is key to building the best experiences. This critical research, gained both through surveys and interviews, should get to what they are thinking, feeling and doing with regards to participation and how that does or doesn’t meet their actual needs. The key is to get to empathic conclusions that help you understand what the target member’s ideal experience looks so you can make more than incremental changes. 

Many congregations currently make small, incremental changes to their dues structure, holiday services, etc. based on what they think the needs are or what just a few voices say. This is helpful, but you are only adjusting the current experience. The real changes come when you use that voice of the congregant to envision something completely new that draws from that ideal experience. For example, you find out people feel your services are boring and don’t want to attend.  You can adjust the current services by adding new and lively music or you can completely reinvent your services in a way that draws people in for an entirely new experience.Do you conduct the service somewhere else, like a park or beach, or do you let the congregants lead instead of the clergy?

Map Out the Experience

Taking the information gleaned from interviews and surveys provides you with the basis to map out the end-to-end journey, starting from the point where they are looking to engage with a religious institution all the way through to where they are longstanding members. You also can look at micro-journeys, such as the process to becoming a bar/bat mitzvah or being confirmed. This mapping allows you to review all the touchpoints in that journey, looking at what the current and future members go through vs. what they envision their ideal vision of those touchpoints to be. Utilizing a cross-section of your congregants, board, and religious and lay staff will provide rich insights for a journey map that will begin to identify where changes are most needed.

Alexander Woodward, Cultivate Marketing

It is likely those participating in the journey-mapping workshops will have many aha’s as new insights are revealed and the key moments that matter most to the congregants are identified. By identifying the moments and their level of importance to the future and current members, the congregation can better prioritize where to focus. This is the point where you also layer in the overall resources and financial considerations of the congregation.  

Develop Solutions

Once you have mapped out the experience and identified where to place the focus for change, you can develop new and innovative solutions that result in this improved experience. Again, using a cross-section of congregants, lay people and clergy will provide richer ideas. Using the design-thinking approach, which focuses solution building on the people you are designing for and includes empathy, ideation and experimentation as its core pillars, you will be able to create opportunities that are completely new and address the needs of those you are targeting. For instance, you determine that you have a very digitally engaged audience that has no interest in going to your website because they are so app driven. Through the use of design-thinking, you determine you need to create an app with key dates and a quick way to sign up for events.

Measure Success

The final step is to assign metrics to your solutions to determine your ongoing success (or failure) so you can continually adapt and ensure you are meeting your goals. If a solution is to create an app, then you need to set goals for downloads, usage, etc. If it isn’t working, find out why, adjust and measure again. Otherwise, the mapping and solutions development become something used once and put on a shelf. That map and the solutions coming from the efforts should be ever-evolving, just like the institution itself.

By utilizing customer experience methodologies to better understand the needs and desires of your congregants and creating solutions that are developed to address those specific needs you will be one step closer to growing and maintaining a vibrant and engaged community.