The challenge for organizations in every sector is to provide a customer experience that matches expectations in every channel and keeps customers coming back.
The saying goes that the “customer is always right.” Today’s customers have more choices than ever before, and they’re empowered.
“Organizations are seeking new ways to engage customers, drive new sales and increase customer satisfaction by providing compelling customer experiences,” said Olive Huang, research director at Gartner. “However, a customer experience (CX) initiative that lacks a strong, clear vision often fails to achieve its intended result.”
An organization suffers when it fails to convey to its employees the necessary changes that come with its vision. Or, equally, when it doesn’t engage all stakeholders to work together to implement the vision at every stage of the customer life cycle.
Gartner identified four key attributes critical to creating the customer experience vision (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Top Attributes of a Compelling Customer Experience Vision
Source: Gartner (May 2015)
But how does this work in practice?
Applying the Attributes
Creating a compelling customer vision means applying four attributes without compromise. For example, an international hotel chain places the “genuine care and comfort” of its guests above all else, and provides the finest personal service and facilities in a relaxed atmosphere. In addition, employees are encouraged to “enliven the senses, instill well-being and fulfil even the unexpressed wishes and needs of their guests”.
Make Communication Key
Gartner said that an organization’s customer experience vision becomes an employee’s common purpose when they can associate it with actual examples and personal feelings. Real and believable stories that bring the vision to life fully engage employees. In turn, employees become champions of the vision across the company and relay valuable customer knowledge to management.
Transcend the Org Chart
Typically within an organization, roles and responsibilities mean that departments only focus on one part of the customer lifecycle. Strong leadership is vital to implement a holistic, business-driven approach. This may mean the creation of a new “chief customer officer”, plus other designated leaders to change employee culture. “An organization needs to find evangelists to walk the talk and be passionate about it,” said Ms. Huang.
IT at the Center
As more organizations attempt digital innovation to improve the customer experience, IT plays an increasingly important role in the customer experience initiatives. Business knowledge generated by data that analyzes engagement, creates a single view of the customer and delivers a multichannel, personalized customer experience, relies on full integration of IT into the business model.
Traditionally, IT has played a supporting role in building customer strategy, led by a top-tier of Chief Customer Officer, or Vice President of Customer Experience, and works closely with the CMO, sales director and head of customer service. Gartner found that in only 5 percent of cases was IT heavily involved in the CX initiative from the outset.
Making the customer feel “right” is the goal, and it requires organizations to “act-as-one” when engaging customers in all touch points. That means putting IT at the center of business transformation to ensure the digital and non-digital experience can seamlessly work together to meet and exceed their expectations.
Gartner analysts will explore customer experience management in more detail at two upcoming events: The Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit 2015 held on June 10-11 in London, and the Customer 360 Summit 2015 held in San Diego, California on September 9-11.
You can read more by downloading the Gartner report, “How IT Can Best Support Your Organization’s Customer Experience Management Transformation“.