Why treating customers right requires constant collaboration

Marketing News

customer experience collaboration

Marketing will argue that it has the best claim to owning the customer experience (CX) agenda, but every other business function has a vital role to play in delivering what customers want – and what they expect in order come back.

Collaboration between different internal departments should be simple enough, but tensions can exist if a strategy is not in place that ensures everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Internal processes must constantly evolve in line with changing customer needs, while a culture of innovation should be encouraged. It is important that anyone – wherever they work in the organisation – is inspired to share a brilliant idea that would help the customer and therefore the business.

That’s something that is well known by the CX50, Marketing Week’s list of the UK’s top 50 customer experience professionals, published in partnership with Zone and Cognizant in June. The inductees were honoured at a dinner in London last night (1 October).

The CX50 2019 revealed: Our list of the top 50 customer experience professionals

At mobile operator Giffgaff, CX is crucial even though much of it is outsourced to the members of the network themselves. Chief commercial officer  and CX50 member Kim Faura says that, whatever its high CX ambitions, exceptional experiences can only be achieved if everyone at the company is involved in the execution.

“Product, service, UX, data and technology play a major part. Of course, Giffgaff is unique in that our members play a major role in the overall experience we offer to them, often helping to answer other member queries online. We have a 90-second response time online.”

The company also has common metrics and means of sharing knowledge to ensure CX priorities are top-of-mind across the organisation.

“Conversion improvement, reduction of complaints cases or NPS (net promoter scores) are the metrics we use more regularly at Giffgaff to assess experience improvements. Experiences and their effects on outcomes are highlighted in team areas, communicated in weekly demos, stakeholder meetings and monthly Science Fairs.”

Faura acknowledges that things don’t always run smoothly within organisations. However he says much of this can be solved by individuals and departments taking greater responsibility themselves where they see leadership lacking.

“All businesses have physical or cultural barriers to achieve their ambitions towards becoming more customer-centric, but it’s also worth acknowledging that many of the perceived barriers are limiting beliefs.

“You don’t need a specific feature, skills, capabilities or permission from your boss to adopt a curious mindset towards your customer. This is something we can all work on. The best way to develop a customer-centric culture is to assume the business is waiting for you to lead the way in defining what is required to develop it.”

Company-wide effort

Specsavers’ commercial trading director and former marketing director Chris Carter – also in the CX50 – believes collaboration around CX only occurs effectively once different functions are convinced there are mutual benefits from the time and money their team is being asked to invest.

For example, if Carter’s team wants the company to spend more around data to improve CX, then the other functions involved in making that happen must also see a return on investment in terms of their own specific KPIs.

READ MORE: Download the profiles of the CX50 inductees here

“Customer insight informs our UK strategy, so we have to collaborate with other teams,” he says. “If we want to see improvements and investment in technology and customer service, we would need the IT and the L&D [learning and development] departments on board as well as other parties in the supply chain.”

The data and IT teams are enablers for most other functions, while L&D colleagues have to ensure staff are trained to interact with customers effectively on the shop floor.

Assume the business is waiting for you to lead the way.

Kim Faura, Giffgaff

Other important internal partners are the website and CRM teams, plus the merchandising department that works closely with Specsavers’ 1,500 joint-venture retail partners. In fact, marrying up CX online with what happens in-store is an ongoing challenge.

“We review scorecards every week looking at customer feedback alongside operations metrics. If we are to boost conversion rates and sales, everything throughout the organisation has to start with what is right for the customer.”

When it comes to devising KPIs, it is essential these are aligned between departments and designed with CX in mind. If not, internal silos can start to appear and that won’t benefit the customer.

Human input

When it comes to the health industry, a personal approach to CX remains important. At insurer Bupa, a collaborative strategy is in place so that every department responds and reacts to what customers are doing and saying.

UK director of transformation and marketing, Rob Edmundson, says the human element can never be overlooked, with technology’s role being to improve CX and ultimately the business.

“If you take our triage service, for example, AI will support our team or professionals, not replace it,” he says. “People still want to talk to a real person sometimes and not a chatbot so we need to retain that level of quality and personalisation. At the moment, only trained physicians can deliver parts of our service.”

Bupa asks customers for feedback on which departments, either on the front line or back office, they feel are the most important to their experience. After all, the customer journey can touch multiple parts of any business. This means the objectives of each specific function must be broadly aligned with the personal objectives that each customer has when he or she interacts with the organisation.

How customer experience is building brands and businesses

“There might be specific points in their journey where there were issues, perhaps around the acquisition or the renewal experience,” says Edmundson. “If departments collaborate and are not siloed you can see where CX had a detrimental impact and then react. If you get it right and meet or exceed expectation levels by analysing where we were not good enough, then the business will grow.”

Of course, for a company like Bupa, the link between CX and overall business experience does not just relate to the policy holder, claimant or patient.

“We also have brokers and other partners who are B2B decision-makers. Each one is a customer with different needs, and if you have a collaborative CX experience right throughout your organisation then business performance will follow.”

Like Carter, Edmundson believes that strong and aligned KPIs must be in place to deliver excellent CX.

“The customer agenda requires KPIs that are not necessarily financial or transactionally-led. They need to be based more around emotion and behaviour; areas that can be difficult to measure.”

Companies must constantly make it an organisational priority to improve CX because it can be a key differentiator, which will ultimately boost short-term business revenue as well as encouraging profitable long-term customer relationships. To achieve it requires both a spirit of collaboration internally and a strategic approach where all departments work in the best interests of the customer.

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