How to Implement a Successful Customer Experience Program

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Step 6: Conduct the Pilot

After the framework has been decided, a research project needs to be conducted to gather pertinent data to assess the pilot environment and to establish actions that can be used to rectify any problem areas.

In one touch-point-oriented pilot, we focused on the customer-service call center. We used a simple web survey with current customer contacts to assess the experience. The NPS question version was, "Would you recommend … based on your experience using the Vendor A customer-service center?" There were also a number of drill-down questions related to the IVR system, wait time, ability of the agent to answer their questions, attitude of the agent, etc.

Finally, an open-ended response was requested: "How can we do better?"

The customer-service center for the pilot was just one of several and used English language only.

The results were assembled and analyzed, and a set of possible actions determined. A short workshop was called that addressed the various possible actions and the cost of implementing them.

A few in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals who had raised a lot of issues, and they were asked if the planned changes were made, how those changes would alter their score. Also, they were asked which of the actions would give the vendor the "best bang for the buck" in their eyes?

This took the first six weeks, and subsequently the actions were agreed and implemented. At week 10 of the pilot, the survey was conducted again, and the improved scores became part of a report indicating the value from such a CEP program.

For the CEP team, it is important to widely publicize the results, have the CEO endorse them, and then sell the results to others in the organization. The team should also channel results to the PR department and the media. It is hard to stop an acclaimed success.

There is always a risk of things not working as expected, so it is probably sound to determine an exit strategy if things go wrong, such as:

  • The CEO changes his/her mind.
  • There is too much push back from the ranks.
  • There are too many operational issues.
  • There is not enough payback.

Implementing a customer experience program (CEP) is not a simple matter. The value comes from extending the current customer satisfaction program into one in which customer centricity is built into the culture and strategies of the company, and using the output of experience measurement to take actions. There are many pitfalls and not the least is attempting to move too rapidly to a complete solution. Sound implementation and the ability to harness all the opportunity of "getting it right" requires a measured approach with interim checkpoints to achieve the benefits that we are hoping for. It requires a roadmap.

According to Harry Bunn, president and CEO of RONIN Corporation, there is also a lot of up-front work to design the most relevant framework and this is why a roadmap needs to be developed (and followed) for a phased implementation, with each step reinforcing the concept and building support. Even before step 1, the CEO must have embraced the concept fully. If not, do not bother attempting a full-blown CEP but continue to use your existing, lower-impact customer satisfaction program.

Harry Bunn is the president and CEO of RONIN Corporation, a marketing consulting and research firm focusing on business-to-business companies, in particular in the technology sector. He has consulted with many of the largest companies including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Dell, VMware, EMC, Samsung, AT&T, Verizon, BT, Telefonica, Honeywell, Motorola, Accenture, Nokia, Siemens, Fujitsu and Xerox.


Related Topics : Business Structure, CRM Solutions, Enterprise Software, ROI, SugarCRM

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