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Clients frequently ask us how to improve the customer experience they provide. This is a big question that should not be answered until the root cause of the problem has been identified and well defined. The most effective way to do that is to perform an end-to-end customer experience assessment. This evaluates the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the customer experience. This also provides a clear road-map for the changes that need to be made and the impact of those changes once they are performed.

By assessing all touch points customers have with the company, we identify the critical issues which need to be resolved in order to drive the desired results. The following are a few of the key insights that are commonly identified through an end-to-end customer experience assessment:

Business and channel silos are a frequent driver of customer frustration

By evaluating all customer touch points, Northridge can gain a comprehensive view of the company from a customer’s perspective. This means looking at both proactive and reactive interactions across multiple channels including web, chat, mobile, email, phone, social, marketing communications and in-person interactions. For example, the assessment can identify where a customer may start in one channel and then have to reroute to an alternative channel due to weak functionality or a poorly-designed IVR. Creating a more seamless, omni-channel experience is a critical focus for many of our clients.

Non-customer-facing employees can make or break the customer experience

Every employee, regardless of function or rank, is responsible for this, not just the customer service department. How many times have you heard that “we all own the customer experience?” This is a mantra that can be heard throughout many organizations; however, only a handful of companies know how to operationalize that vision effectively.

Many times, customer frustrations are driven from upstream or downstream issues where the functional team is too far removed from the impact of their decisions. For example, a customer might find a medical bill to be unclear or that a billing department does not allow for adjustments by front line agents. Even when errors are common they cause customer frustration, resolution delays and require rework. A root cause analysis of contact drivers coupled with detailed service blueprints can quickly uncover which of the 20 percent of back-office processes are the causes of 80 percent of the problems.

Effectively addressing process issues often results in low- to no-cost improvements

While improving the customer experience sometimes requires investment, the vast majority of situations Northridge identifies are driven by process issues. Some companies invest in process experts through Six Sigma or Lean Methodology, but many times companies do not fully realize the benefits of that investment. One of the most common reasons for this shortfall is that these teams are either embedded in the business units, inhibiting their cross-functional impact, or they are managed by a corporate function, which is too far removed from the actual business processes. These limitations are what often lead our clients to leverage our consulting services, as we provide expert comprehensive analysis, without making a commitment to fixed resource costs.

If the issues uncovered require technology investments or additional staffing, it is critical to have a solid business case in order for executives to appreciate the significant benefits of reduced attrition and training time, as well as the benefits of increased self-service and process automation practices. When addressed comprehensively, businesses can achieve breakthrough improvements in both customer experience and cost reduction at the same time.

Organizational effectiveness and change management are critical to success

Business silos and an abundance of organizational layers can result in segmented processes and disjointed priorities that affect performance. Clarity of vision, disciplined focus, performance metric alignment, and effective communications are all foundational requirements to a high-performance organization centered on the customer experience.

It’s important to remember that transformational efforts require all areas to work together. Customer journey mapping and service blueprinting are some commonly used tools to get started.

See our new case study for an example of an assessment that allowed our client to improve the customer experience and reduce non-value costs.

CASE STUDY

The Northridge Group was asked to perform an end-to-end customer experience assessment for a Fortune 50 healthcare company to identify customer pain points and innovative processes to differentiate them in the marketplace.

Northridge reviewed all customer touch points including member communications, web and mobile apps, contact center interactions, social media, complaint reviews, and customer survey research. Northridge examined each stage of the customer lifecycle, including sales, onboarding, service and program support to address critical pain points and identify innovative process solutions required to set them apart in a highly competitive marketplace.

Through immense data gathering and process analysis, we developed service blueprints for all business segments, providing a comprehensive view of the customer lifecycle and areas of potential differentiation. We also identified key performance metrics and measurement processed that would be critical to ongoing success.

View the full case study here.