Why is customer experience such a buzzword in the business world right now and how does it help companies? How can any organization, regardless its size boost profitability and long term sustainable competitive advantage with a sound customer experience program? We talked with Debbie Pearson, lead tutor and Center Manager at Oxford College of Marketing. Debbie will return soon in Romania for an intensive training weekend at the Marketing Institute in Romania, helping local professionals to be the first to get the knowledge and practical tools to deal with it but also to be among the first international certified practitioners in the field. Also, we touched upon how a customer experience accredited training could empower employees to deliver results?
Why is customer experience such a buzzword in the business world right now and how does it help companies?
Forrester describes ‘customer experience’ as ‘how customers perceive experiences with your company.’ So, as marketing leaders, we need to remember we do not own perceptions. They are in the mind of the customers, indeed any stakeholder. It is our responsibility to create and deliver on our brand promises and performance to deliver the best experiences we can. This should not only drive repeat purchase and loyalty behaviours in our customers, but should yield competitive advantage, and, if applicable, drive shareholder value. So, customer experience is critical to any organisation’s success or failure.
That’s the theory. It’s a buzzword because it can be difficult to do! There’s some research suggesting that 80% of CEO’s have customer experience as number one on their agenda, but are struggling with implementation. To be successful, there may need to be culture change, which is a massive undertaking in its own right.
Could you give us some examples?
I think Richard Branson is a good example of championing customer experience. He’s big on hiring employees for attitude and training them in ‘The Virgin Way’.
Apple promote experiential marketing in their stores. Customers can ‘play’ with products. Staff are approachable and knowledgable.
The purchase experience is quick and easy. Simple store design with fresh branding, all helps.
Why are companies still struggle with delivering results in customer experience?
Lots of organisations have a wealth of data, but many do not know how to manage it or what to do with it. Key to success is having joined up processes and systems internally to deliver a seamless experience throughout a customer’s journey. Internal marketing and relevant communications, up, down and across any organisation are critical to success. Really, it’s all about people. Employ the right people, with the right skills and knowledge, most importantly the right attitude! Support them with a market orientated organisational culture and you’ll be on the road to delivering superior customer experience.
How does a CIM certification help professionals deliver more results back in their organizations?
CIM certification can help professionals to deliver results, as research based concepts, theories and evidence underpin the practical elements of delivering customer experience in the real world. In other words, it’s about application, based on frameworks, to lead to competitive advantage.
Is it relevant for other areas, such as not for profit, where you're activating as a consultant as well?
Absolutely! The not-for-profit sector is highly competitive. Donors have a choice of cause - and there are so many brilliant charitable causes. So, by relating to donors with positive customer experience can help build loyalty to any particular not-for-profit organisation. Appropriate and clear communications at the right time, in the right place is important. Again, using data to understand the donors’ wants and needs is a similar process to the commercial sector.
What lessons could you share from your vast experience within large companies such as Vodafone or BT in the UK? Which challenges do they face, how do they overcome this and what can we learn as marketeers from this dynamic industry?
Sometimes, the larger the company, the harder it is to manage the data across so many departments, in many places with many people. Clear objectives and strategies, clearly communicated to all internal stakeholders are critical to success. The organisational culture has to be ‘right’ to make this happen.
Clear objectives and strategies, clearly communicated to all internal stakeholders are critical to success.
What about your experience with Romania and our students here? Any "memorable" experiences or "moments of truth"" around your trips?
I’ve encountered brilliant customer experience and not so good in Romania! I arrived at my hotel around 2am in the morning, to find my room was still being occupied by the previous guest. Not great, when I’d been travelling for about 8 hours and had to work the next day. Nevertheless, the hotel put me up in an establishment nextdoor. For the rest of my stay, I was upgraded to a suite, complete with complimentary champagne. The customer relations manager paid a personal visit to apologise and check everything was ok. She then emailed me when I came home to ask for feedback on my experience. Great! Needless to say, I am going to stay there again.I think the lesson is, it’s about how the whole team at the hotel managed an unfortunate situation to turn it into positive experience.
A visit to a well known tourist attraction was not so great! Chaos in purchasing a ticket. Lack of organisation for guided tours. Took much longer than should have done….. I think it shows a lack of leadership and management. Certainly, no joined-up thinking and a lack of communication across the employees.
I have found the students in Romania very engaged. It’s fantastic to see a hunger to learn and a passion for improving customer experience in their organisations.