HomeBlog Customer Experience Improvement Made Practical: Summit Questions Answered

Customer Experience Improvement Made Practical: Summit Questions Answered

August 05, 2014 | By Megan Heuer

Hooray! It’s been great to see so many b-to-b companies focusing more on defining and improving their customer experience! Delivering a great experience is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to supporting revenue growth and encouraging customer advocacy. During our recent Summit, several clients asked us great questions about customer experience strategy and execution. Here are the answers to those questions; hopefully they’ll help you make customer experience improvement a practical, manageable undertaking.

Customer Experience

Question: What role or function do you envision driving the mapping of the customer experience?

ANSWER: Ideally, a company has a customer experience function in place. That group should be responsible for customer experience mapping with help from the various functions that contribute to the customer experience (e.g. sales, service, marketing, finance). The customer experience function should include team members who know how (or will be trained) to do mapping, and outside help should be hired if necessary. Mapping should be done in an experience function, because it enables the team to take a comprehensive look across all functions and to provide an objective viewpoint on what’s happening. This is often the team that collects customer loyalty or satisfaction feedback (e.g. Net Promoter surveys), so it has information about what is and isn’t working, which informs the mapping effort. Variations on this approach: In some companies, the customer experience function is the customer service or support team, with a focus mainly on execution. If that’s the case, the charter can be expanded to include experience strategy (which may require hiring or training for new skills). Another option is to bring in a different function with the ability to do this work (e.g. marketing or strategy teams). If no customer experience team is in place, this is a great reason to add one. Customer experience mapping is an ideal first deliverable for the new team.

Question: How do you pick a customer for customer experience mapping? How many should you do – one for each vertical or solution type?

ANSWER: When it comes to defining the perspective an experience map takes, the key consideration is: What customer roles do we have? A big mapping mistake is to create a one-size-fits-all view that doesn’t reflect the differences in what various roles see and need. When b-to-b personas are built, they often focus on roles in the buyer’s journey. The next step is to look at who is involved in the customer lifecycle after the purchase takes place. Are they the same people as in the buyer’s journey? Do some roles need to be added? In the buyer’s journey, usually decisionmakers and influencers play a critical part, but those who use the product or service day-to-day may not be actively involved in making the purchase decision. Once the deal is closed, however, it’s critical to understand and support those users. Decisionmakers and influencers play new roles post-purchase, with different touch points and interests than users. Before mapping, make a list of those who play a role in the post-purchase customer lifecycle. Think about whether each person’s experience differs based on their vertical market or industry, the solution they buy and other factors. Group those who have a similar experience to avoid creating unnecessary maps. Next, prioritize the list of roles for mapping based on where improvements are needed or to create a competitive advantage by improving the experience.

Question: How do you align incentives for service functions that support the customer experience?

ANSWER: There are several ways to align incentives for the various functions (including services) that contribute to the customer experience. Service functions generally have a built-in set of metrics for performance tracking that are aligned to effective experience support, at least for the interactions the service team supports. In companies that prioritize cost reduction at the expense of experience quality, the metrics that encourage customer-focused execution can get off track. If this is the case, the organization needs to change the way service teams are trained and measured to encourage behavior that’s more in line with customer expectations. For all functions, it’s critical to align around overall customer experience key performance indicators (e.g. retention, Net Promoter loyalty scores). Each function, from finance to sales to marketing to service, needs to know how its activities contribute to those KPIs and should be tracked on how well those activities are working. That way, there’s no mystery as to why they have performance goals related to the overall KPI. 

Leave us a comment below and tell us about ways you're working to improve the customer experience!

Megan Heuer

Megan Heuer is Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions. With more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer.

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