5 Questions True Customer Experience Leaders Always Ask

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Bain and Company[1], thought leaders in customer experience, have analysed companies that have top notch customer experience and discovered the traits they have and the revenue growth that they can enjoy as a result.

Fostering an excellent customer experience encourages customer loyalty. The holy grail of any company. The B&C analysis show that these sort of companies can expect 4-8% higher revenues than the rest of their marketplace.

According to their statistics, better experiences with a company promotes customer loyalty; becoming promoters of the brand, with a lifetime value of 6 to 14 times that of detractors.

The typical CX leader:

  • Has a category-leading brand
  • Grows faster than their leading competitor
  • Is sustainably profitable
  • Is a loyalty leader in their market

Apparently, however, between 2005 and 2009, only 1 in 9 companies managed to excel in all the categories above. Two thirds of the senior executives surveyed by Bain reported that customer loyalty had diminished.

So what are these questions that market leaders in customer loyalty regularly ask themselves?

1.What do we want to stand for in the eyes of our customers?

It’s the age old question - “What do we offer our customers that distinguishes us from the competition?” Furthermore, “Can we relate that to our front-line employees?”

This is when having a strong company vision is key. And communicating that vision to each and every staff member so that it trickles down to customers and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Example from the Study:

“One European telecommunications provider distilled its vision to being “simple and friendly”: simple through such features as clear pricing and easily installed and used Internet service; friendly through greater accessibility to service agents and follow-up on a problem until it gets resolved. The company translated that vision into specific performance indicators such as the clarity of sales pitches and the share of customers that find it easy to register online. It distributed a card to employees listing the behaviour principles guiding the effort, and it charged two senior executives as Mr. Simple and Mr. Friendly to lead the efforts.”

2.Which handful of actions will generate the most impact with our target customers?

“Handful” is the operative word here. Many companies are guilty of putting into motion many disjointed, though well-intentioned initiatives to improve customer loyalty. There are always problem areas in every industry. It’s a case of having to pick battles, and that decision ought to be based on what will have the most impact on customers (existing and potential).

The study cited a great example:

In the telecom industry, for instance, major causes of detraction include poor network quality and limited access to staff. On the upside, the variables that turn customers into promoters include knowledge of store staff and a technician’s behaviours in the home. Must-win battles in telecom thus often include fixing basic activities such as first-time-right problem resolution, retail or contact centre accessibility and simplified plan structures, as well as efforts to create promoters during key episodes involving the front line.

3.How can we use customer feedback to promote learning and behaviour change among employees?

It is a sad fact that as much as they create opportunities for customer feedback, many top companies fail to put it into action. As the diagram below shows, employees and customers create two feedback loops that work continuously.

Customer centric culture diagram

Advice from the study:

A key principle behind any adjustments: Make it easy and fulfilling for employees to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. Methods to do so include carefully chosen performance metrics and after-the-fact consequences. When metrics are simply stated, few in number, linked to the customer experience and transparent to everyone in the organization, they motivate employees to apply discretionary effort. Consequences should balance at roughly 80% positive and 20% negative, because positive consequences reinforce desired behaviours.

4.When we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes, what aspects of the experience need to change?

Possibly one of the most important questions, when implementing any sort of change, consider the impact upon the customer. Change can be daunting for all kinds of customers, even the most technical-savvy. Any implementation that involves customer buy-in needs to be handled carefully, with their needs in mind, working from the customer’s perspective backwards.

Example from the study:

One UK-based bank identified detecting and deterring fraud as a moment of truth that could strongly influence customers’ advocacy or detraction of the bank (see Figure 3). It described four episodes of suspected fraud, and then mapped all of the people and processes required in each episode to resolve the fraud effectively. By surveying customers after their fraud resolution experiences, the bank found that for all four journeys, higher NPS scores correlated with fast resolution of the problem and resolution in one phone call by the first agent contacted. So speed, process and service became the cornerstone of the redesign of the fraud resolution experience.

5.How can we anticipate and mitigate the risks, in order to sustain the changes?

Employee resistance to change is just as troubling as that of customers. Without their buy-in, they will not be in the position to encourage customer loyalty through a great cx journey. Therefore, this question has three sub-questions on the practicalities of readying the organisation for change:

1) Which groups are the most critical in order to carry out the required changes?

2) How can we equip each group for success?

3) Who can best support and influence the groups?

Feedback loops that promote individual learning and structural improvements


The key takeaways from this new information is that each company needs to spend quite a lot of time on inward thinking, self analysis and defining their customer, their customers journey mapping and hopes and expectations for the company and how to implement the best strategy to achieve this.

[1] http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/the-five-disciplines-of-customer-experience-leaders.aspx