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When most business leaders hear the term “improve customer experience,” many immediately think of investment … new systems, more customer service agents, etc.  With the right approach, improved customer experience can also dramatically reduce operating costs.  Here are seven tips for creating an outstanding experience while simultaneously increasing ROI.

1. Look upstream – Too often, contact center leaders are focused on navigating through their daily operational challenges that they neglect to look upstream to identify and resolve the process failures that initially caused the calls, complaints, or issues to occur in the first place.  There is a wealth of information available that can be leveraged to systematically improve your business.

Success is dependent on a commitment to evaluating the business through the eyes of your customers together with strong, cross functional leadership and collaboration.

2. Anticipate Needs – Organizations that consistently stand out as leaders in driving a differentiated experience, leverage the data, trends, and insights from all of their customer touch points to proactively anticipate and address current and future, unspoken needs.  The critical components include a solid understanding of your targeted customers and a focus on innovation.  Consider all the new products and services that didn’t exist 3, 5, or 10 years ago, that now answer a previously unmet customer need.

3. Leverage Data – Big data can be powerful if managed effectively. Regularly collecting and analyzing data from your all of your customer touch points will help you 1) understand and fix process failures; 2) measure the impact of changes; 3) maintain focus on the areas that have the highest impact to your business.  Customers are time-starved, so surveys may soon be a thing of the past.  Successful companies gain valuable customer insights through their purchasing patterns, customer service transactions and social media trends.

4. Execute consistently across all touch points – One of the reasons global organizations succeed is that customers get the same experience in Beijing, China as they do in Chicago, Illinois. Now customers research companies and products online before making a purchase, shop in-store or online, communicate with companies via social media, and more.  Customers expect an integrated and consistent experience no matter which channel they chose to interact with you.  Delivering this seamlessly for your customers also dramatically reduces costs, specifically through increased use of self-service and reduction of repeat calls and misdirects.

5. Prioritize – In analyzing data and speaking with customer service representatives, many different areas for improvement will surface. You can’t change everything at once; analyze all of the opportunities with a specific focus on frequency, cost, and customer impact.

Prioritize the areas that deliver the best customer experience at the lowest cost.

6. Utilize both internal and external expertise – Having a fresh perspective tends to shed new light on issues and potential solutions. People who work inside the organization frequently rationalize why their processes are not as customer-centric as they should be.  Leveraging insights from a third party with extensive experience in customer-centric transformations enables the organization to think more creatively and identify innovative solutions that drive the desired customer and business outcomes.

7. Re-engineer processes through the customer lens – Ultimately, customers want a seamless experience with excellent service. Walk in the shoes of your customer and evaluate every step along the way.  Do you have the products that they need? Was the information they needed readily available to them when they needed it?  If things didn’t go as planned, were they quickly and effectively rectified?  Throughout the entire process, was the customer treated in a way that clearly reinforced their importance to your business?

Customer centricity and transformational cost reduction can be realized through a passionate focus on the end-to-end experience and breaking through all of the barriers that stand in your way!

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