Excellent CX as Reputation Management Strategy

Why Strategic Customer Experience is a Gift for Reputation Management 

While studying for my first degree, the theme of better customer service (not customer experience yet!) was a recurring theme, concerning earning customer loyalty and market share, although not so much explicitly in the context of reputation management. There was a massive upsurge in the 90s of paying lip service to customer service as a competitive vehicle. That ethos seems to have waned considerably as service seems to be decaying in places we used to expect it, and yet it’s never been more important.

These days, the focus goes, rightly, beyond customer service to consider the entire Customer Experience, how the customer or client of your business experiences all of the elements that make up your brand at every stage of any transaction with your company. These transactions accrue into positive building blocks for favourable brand reputation and strategic reputation management. Identifying all the touchpoints your customer can possibly have with your brand, products and staff and having a strategy for influencing and planning how every interaction is handled is the very essence of it. I think of CX as CXE – Customer Experience and Engagement because the opportunity for engagement, to get information, feedback and ideas from the customer are where the magic really happens.

Why Leaders show care about Client and Customer Experience

We build brands to differentiate but also to build a reputation, against which hopefully a premium can be applied and repeat custom and advocacy can be extracted. The brand sets itself up, makes a promise, delivers it, delights and builds and reinforces a reputation for quality, reliability and other great things. More than ever the opportunities that lie in fostering and nurturing great customer experiences should not be squandered. With more choice than ever available to customers in some domains, CX is ever more relevant and the thinking behind how CX is implemented can make it transformational. It can make it a gift for reputation management.

Transactional to Transformational Thinking – the value of CX

Transactional thinking would limit the scope of CX. Clients and customers when purchasing are not purely acting on calculated algorithms for buying into an offering. There is a great deal going on in hearts as well as minds. However, viewed logically, the purest person to person service element, usually post a purchase or immediately preceding it, and generally as an aid to that sale, actually occurs quite deep within the relationship/purchase funnel. The added value is in everything else leading up to the sale, and after that, you ideally want to exercise some influence over. You want to have the privilege and access of speaking into the spaces either side because when you factor in desirable brand love and loyalty, it’s instructive that conversion does not end with the person who has bought, as they can help you convert others. This is the power of favourable reputation and an opportunity for reputation management.

 

why cusomer experience is a priority for business leaders

The goal of CX is delight – attract, engage, nurture and delight

Putting CX at the heart of Projects

Leaders and staff should have a clear view of their roles and responsibilities in sustainably and successfully delivering customer experience (CX), but it should be ultimately driven by brand strategy. CX can be the arbiter of your brand values and perception. Bearing out and translating the purpose and the values the business espouses through CX buttresses and validates your customers’ perception of your business. Reputation Management starts here. Credit is gained and credibility advanced that indemnifies a brand in terms of sustainable brand reputation and reputation management. Now, it’s been my experience through numerous Change Programmes, that there is generally limited consideration of the programme’s risks and impact to the brand and the business’ ability to consistently meet customer and clients’ expectations. This is because they are often driven entirely by internal, operational factors, external triggers tend to be obligations to and duress from regulators and monitors but I believe customer experience is an equally legitimate driver. Reputation Management is not something that’s only addressed in the event of an adverse event, like savings, reputations must be shored up against rainy days.

I think this should change. Even when it isn’t the causal factor for a programme, it absolutely should be part of the standards and metrics by which that programme is deemed a success. It, therefore, follows that demonstrable improvements to the processes and operating models delivering high-quality customer experience, or at the very least, strong evidence that it is not put at risk or degraded, should form a primary part of the business case.

If projects were incepted with an eye on the customer and transformation focused on making things better for customers and staff, that is if PEOPLE were actually valued and central to the impetus for projects, very possibly, less oversight might be needed as businesses would be policing themselves according to their own stated purpose and values. Hmm!

So…..where is the problem? What could go wrong? Ahhhh, yes. Of course.

When there is no visible commitment to those stated values.What an indictment that is on the way we do business – it means that whenever a customer’s experience of your brand fails to bear out your values, you may be seen as only paying lip service, as inauthentic. The worst of it, of course, is that your customers can see and sense the disconnect. Of course, they can, they get it a sense of it through the entire experience! That’s it – the whole point.  If you are talking about customer experience but not really considering satisfaction of customers and motivation of those who deliver the services that form the experience, you are just paying lip service to customer experience, much the same as people did in the 90s. And your customers can tell!

Reputation Management - Secure your brand's reputation through exceptional customer experienceCX Matters

If you don’t think this matters, I give you Aldi and Lidl. If the leading supermarkets were listening, they would have known and acted on the customer data that Aldi and Lidl have exploited, as Tesco have only just recently started to do hence this update to the blog. It’s taken several years to mount this offensive, but apart from anything else, the customer experience at Tesco was obviously not sufficient to sustain the custom of those with an option to go elsewhere. Tesco’s reputation has also suffered considerably in the past decade an effort to refocus on customer needs might have aided their reputation management. As it was, it appeared to make them more vulnerable to incursions by the challengers.

Other sectors are not exempt. The banking sector sees challenger banks popping up. I give you Tide and Monzo, reported to have deep satisfaction amongst customers. They are starting with a commitment to the customer experience and meeting needs that the existing banks do not, even though they say they want to. It’s amazing when you think about it.

So, dear business case owners, sponsors, C-suite people, transformation programmes should not lead to a deterioration in staff morale and customers’ perception of the brand. Therefore, business strategy and change should absolutely have dependencies on your business brand imperatives and benefits realisation must be within the context of meeting or exceeding customer brand expectations. Even if it is not the causal factor for the programme, it should be in there somewhere! There should be, on every programme board and Steering Committee and Executive Committee etc., somebody who has responsibility for Brand Standards and CX. There, I have just created that brand new role. Feel free to use it because it’s critical, now more than ever, to focus more on people – both in and out – and ultimately serve your brand better.

CX Remodel

Customer Experience Remodel

Customer experience (CX) Remodel is a critical transformation for now and the future because CX is a major factor in superior brand performance. We love the latest buzzwords as much as the next guys and CX is super on-trend- Customer experience writ large cut down and rolling off the tongue. But CX is not just the latest thing, it is the thing because  (here’s some of that straight talk we promised you)  – the Customer journey is important. That’s because,  well – the experience your customer has with your brand and of your brand is the picture and position they hold in their heads. Period. CX is the beginning and end and sum of all interactions with your current and future tribes, and customer service is just a way station on the road that your clients should not have to visit regularly, but when they do, they should be refueled and happy to continue on the road with you. Customer service is not CX because customer service is not the whole story, and that is why CX Remodel and the requisite engagement with your staff and culture change are so important. The whole story is your brand and your business goals and how you consistently achieve the latter. CX Remodel is central to that entire thesis.

Accessible

Many companies have worked hard to evolve a model of service that encourages the customer to solve their own problems and funnel and filter the actual customers that actually need to have direct one-on-one contact with the brand. This may be cost effective for Google and Amazon and FB, and they may be willing to stand the risk of customer drop off simply because the risk is low – there are just not that many alternatives for their customers and their customers are close to innumerable. Most businesses do not operate in a similar risk environment and costs of switching are lower than ever before, so models like this must be used with care. If customers feel the need to get in contact with you, it should be easy, straight forward, intuitive. The CX Remodel process is an opportunity to rethink how best to solve challenges like this and others in ways that create an opportunity for your brand to convert consumers to advocates.

Risk based CX Mapping

Customer journey mapping must be done from the perspective of the customer, so they should have easy access  to your brand when hey feel they have run out of road even if they actually haven’t! Their perception versus yours, drive on this journey, otherwise customers will tend to feel a lack of power and feel that you are contemptuous of them. Canvas and include diverse and divergent views of the broad range of your customers and understand the outliers because there may be insights of pure gold.

Take a risk based approach to mapping the customer journey and emphasis the actions that your business roles will take in exceptions and how you effectively handle those. Combined with ensuring that customers can reach you with ease via their preferred channels, it is possible begin creating a CX journey that matches your brand ideals and your customers ideas and perceptions.

It should be noted that for the CX Remodel process to deliver all available value, how your personnel are engaged and trained is the other side of the CX Remodel coin.

Customer based perception versus LOB Business-centric Approaches

Looking through a customer lens is the definitive rule of CX Remodelling. Your customers use their products seamlessly or as integral to their lives, and will always reach for what’s easiest. What customers are not doing is perceiving your business on a Lines of Business level – they are truly and fully function agnostic about the structure of your business. If you are lucky enough to have a position in the minds of you customer, they perceive a seamless entity and seek to engage with it on that basis. They just want an answer, they just want their problem solved.they just want an answer or their problem, easily. To make this happen, it’s necessary to understand how different demographics consume your product  and use it through their whole journey.

The Role of Integration and Collaboration

As we discuss elsewhere, integration is what makes transformation truly hum, doesn’t work without it. As also discussed, the CX lens must be employed through the transformation process to ensure adherence to the brand values and the expectations of customers. To complete that circle, integration of the functional areas of your business must be achieved. Collaboration, of course facilitates integration and delivers synergies into the bargain. This collaboration ensures that CX is a business spanning discipline and activity. In turn, this attitude of being actively and intentionally customer-centric as an organisation will make your CX delivery  authentic and sustainable.

Where the ‘Feels’ Matter

CX Remodel unashamedly demands that we focus on the emotional requirements of the customer, and the numbers speak for themselves, and rather loudly – perceptions of great customer experience are tightly correlated to willingness to pay more, so great CX sense is great business sense.

In the end CX carries or crushes your brand and as such can be recognised as having great power. It is critical to be in control of it.

Key Interaction Points

People and Training

The Customer Journey

Expectations and Identity

We want your XCX
In Pursuit of Excellence

Excellent Customer Experience – coming full circle to why we exist, and our approach to making your brand resonant. Using the Iconifier Framework, we believe that Excellent Customer  Experience is the driver of sustainable and iconic brands of the future.

With more choice than ever before, customers need to be wooed and delighted. We believe that the search for brand resonance cannot belong only to the front end presentation but is distilled, articulated and transmitted through the backend technology engineering and operations, run by your most valuable resource who must be converted to be your brand’s advocates, your people.

There are several determinants and approaches to CX as discussed by Verhoef et al, but the consensus around CX is that it must be a holistic and inclusive initiative across the organisation. The goal that leaders with long term vision will have will be to deliver Excellent Customer Experience – XCX.  To get there,  we believe the road leads all the way back to the beginning – affirming purpose and values, inside out brand strategy, adopting a consumer-centric lens to mapping the customer journey, collaboration and end to end integration. The loop is closed by authentic branding and full life cycle communications to achieve  excellent customer experience.

Delivering Critical CX – the fundamental brand purpose

Leading companies are adding new talent to support a digital operating model. To develop sharp insights using digital tools, procurement teams will need data science and analytics expertise.

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