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The importance of customer experience in today’s marketplace is well understood as a competitive differentiator, as well as a driver of brand and customer loyalty.  Many companies also recognize that, when executed well, customer experience strategy drives business growth and reduces costs.  Clearly, making certain that you provide outstanding customer experience is critical.  But what do you do if you know that your company’s customer experience isn’t as good as it should be?

The first step is to understand your current state and the next steps are to build the right strategies to deliver an outstanding service experience for your customers.  When thinking about how best to create a go-forward customer experience strategy and plan, consider these 7 tips:

Understand the current state: Customer journey mapping is one of the best techniques for understanding the current state.  Other great tools to leverage are mystery shopping solutions and a quality monitoring program that is truly designed through the eyes of your customers.  It’s also core to this initial assessment to pressure test the customer experience and benchmark against competitors across different industries as that is the bar to which customers are making their comparisons.  It’s important to compare your end-to-end experience to what is available in the marketplace and are key differentiators for the end consumer.

Ensure a holistic view: Evaluate the upstream drivers of customer pain points, back office support gaps, and cross-channel views.  For upstream drivers, consider your website effectiveness, product, and customer communications.  Ask yourself if your back office support processes such as billing, tech scheduling, and other functions work as smoothly for your customers as they should.  Many companies are still measuring customer experience within a channel, but it’s even more important to measure across the channels as that is truly what your customer is experiencing.  A recent Northridge Group survey found that 61% of consumers have to interact with a company on more than one channel to resolve a customer service issue – Customer experience clearly needs to be effortless within and across all touchpoints.

Quantify and prioritize actions: At this stage, it is critical to address pain points, identify the differentiators and develop new capabilities.  Solve for the short-term with quick hits to improve on pain points and accelerate results.  Balance this with a longer-term view and make important improvements such as redesigned policies and procedures and the technical support required for proactive personalization as a way to go-to-market differently.

Identify critical Moments of Truth: Think through when your customers are most likely to need you and proactively consider solutions in advance.  For instance, if a member is having a knee replacement, that person will likely need to connect with their healthcare insurance company a number of times – to initially check on benefits, or when bills are received, or perhaps to identify physical therapy providers in their network. A more proactive approach is for the insurance company to take a proactive, case management approach with that member and call them proactively to check in with them and help them through the process.  Not only will this thoughtful approach reduce many of these contacts, thereby reducing your costs, but it also can heighten customer loyalty by having largely anticipated their needs in advance and provided an excellent experience during a significant time in their lives.

Define, design and communicate future state vision: What do you want your future state vision to look like? Remember to be certain that the future state differentiates and distinguishes your business in the marketplace and is clearly aligned with your company’s value proposition.  This roadmap should be used to prioritize all of your initiatives to ensure you stay on track to delivering your short, medium and long term business objectives.

Develop change management plan: Once you align around the vision, you then need to fully and accurately understand where each of your leaders is in their change journey and how you need to inspire and motivate the organization to achieve your end state objectives.  There will be advocates and change agents that will immediately jump on board and help you lead through this effort and others that will have doubts that need to be managed through two-way dialog to bring them along.  You can also never over communicate during a time of significant change, so be sure to have a detailed communication plan in place and stick to it.

Measure success: Create the right measurements of success, document them in a scorecard and regularly track your progress to achieving the goals.  While customer experience is the right thing to do for every company, it is critical to ensure you are also achieving the related business benefits of these efforts.  When executed well, your business will grow more profitably and your cost structure will improve.

To learn more about driving best-in-class Customer Experience, contact us.