By Joseph Katz
When you’ve spent as much time in the contact center space as I have, it tends to shape your thinking just a bit. For example, whenever the topic of Customer Experience Management comes up, I automatically think of customer service.
I realize that customer experience (or CX as it’s known) has been an area of heightened interest in recent years for the very reason that it does not limit itself to one particular area. To understand things from a customer’s perspective, you have to look at everything from which way the doors open at the local branch to the color of the envelope used to send the monthly bill.
The forest from the trees
Most companies nowadays have someone who heads up Customer Experience; I can think of a few companies who have a whole team of these folks. I’m always fascinated by these individuals because of their attention to detail and their ability to see things through the eyes of a customer. Most of us lose that view of the “forest” simply by living in and amongst the “trees” for too long.
It does make me wonder though about the intersection between customer experience and the contact center. I think that most CX professionals would acknowledge that service plays an essential role in the overall experience. For example, if you work for Disney then it’s not just a matter of how long the customer waited in line to ride Space Mountain – how long did they wait in queue to book the trip to the Magic Kingdom in the first place?
Where did you come from?
Some Customer Experience people came out of the call center area, so not only do they understand its importance, but they also have enough subject matter expertise to improve it. Others come from Marketing or Operations and have learned about the contact center purely out of necessity. I’m reminded of a Product Manager for a large PC manufacturer who figured out that the buyer magazines were rating his product so harshly because of the company’s poor customer service. Upon sharing this information with the CEO, he was promptly put in charge of “fixing” the problem. Welcome to the contact center world!
If you’re coming at it from one of these other backgrounds, then the complexity may be a bit intimidating. What is all this IVR, ACD, CTI stuff anyway? But as noted, it could also be an advantage since your forest-level view may simply tell you which things annoy customers and need to be addressed, without getting muddled in the murky details. For that approach to work, you better have a strong collaborative relationship with the contact center organization. I’m betting that most Customer Experience folks are good collaborators by nature though since it’s just not feasible for one person to be intimately familiar with every pulley and lever within a massive company.
At the fork in the road
So while sitting at this proverbial intersection, what types of customer service improvements should the CX leader be focused on to improve overall experience? Of course it varies by company, but it’s likely that quite a few are considering the “emerging” channels (mobile, social, etc.) that customers are increasingly turning to in lieu of making a phone call or visiting the company’s website. That’s a favorite topic of mine these days and sure to be the subject of some of my future posts. If you want to talk about these channels in the meantime, drop me a line and we’ll chat. But if you’re just looking for some good reading on the topic, I would recommend recent studies by Harvard Business Review and the IBM Institute for Business Value. Both have good reason to suggest that what while your customers may be turning to these channels for deeper engagement and free stuff – the most important thing they’re looking for is simplicity.
“Make it easier to do business with our company.” Sounds like the motto of any Customer Experience leader worth his or her salt!