The Four Pillars of Customer Experience

By Christa Heibel, CEO/Founder CH Consulting Group
A colleague of mine recently sent me the Temkin Group Insight Report on Customer Experience in the U.S., and it has been quite the eye-opener. The Temkins Experience Ratings report is a cross-industry, open standard benchmark of customer experience. To generate these ratings, the Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate their recent interactions with 318 companies across 20 industries. I found the entire report fascinating, from start to finish. As a customer experience and contact center consultant, I understand the importance of CX but I also understand that many companies still have a long, long way to go. Don’t believe me? Check out this result graphic from the report:

Yes, as a company you may think you have an excellent customer experience – but truly, it lies in the eye of the beholder. In this image above, only 6% of companies were rated as “Excellent”. Majority of scores were in the “Good” and “Okay” buckets – but do you really just want to be just “good”? Just “Okay”? I didn’t think so.

This report had me thinking as to how can an organization deliver an “excellent” customer experience. What are the CX competencies that every company must achieve to satisfy their customers consistently? The Temkin report brilliantly notes four competencies, which I like to refer to as the Four Pillars of CX:
  • Purposeful leadership
  • Compelling Brand Values
  • Employee Engagement
  • Customer Connectedness
The report has their own take on these four pillars, but I would like to offer my own insights and commentary based on my own personal experience.

Purposeful Leadership
Save a seat for CX at the executive table! This is a topic that I am extremely passionate about and have talked at great lengths about with. I recently spoke with Shep Hyken on his Amazing Business Radio podcast and also was a presenter at an MWCCA event where this particular topic was the star of the show.  I firmly believe is important for the CEO to be involved and take ownership of the entire Customer Experience, even if there is a Customer Experience Officer in place. A Genesys & Economist Intelligence Unit shows a link between CEO, profitability, and CEO engagement:
  • 58% of all companies surveyed reported higher profitability than their competitors.
  • 59% experience better revenue growth as a result of prioritizing customer experience investments.
However, it takes more than just CEO buy-in. Your CX efforts require executive leadership support from all departments to be successful, plain and simple. Yes, it’s a team effort! Executives from each department possess an intimate understanding of one piece of the customer journey. When all executives are brought together to work collaboratively, you can build a powerful CX that engages, delights and supports your customer.

Compelling Brand Values
What promises are you making your customers? Make sure that your brand promises are clearly defined. More importantly, are you keeping these brand promises? It is important to ensure that every member of your organization from Customer Service Representative to CEO is fulfilling your organization’s brand promises. How do you achieve this? Thorough and comprehensive training of your staff that focuses on making, embracing, and keeping your brand promises.
However, brand values are more than just part of your training class. It must also be embedded into your company culture. If you want your customers to feel respected and valued, your culture must also make your employees feel like they are respected and valued. If your staff treats each other with the brand values you are emulating, it will flow effortlessly during their customer interactions.

Employee Engagement
It pays to have an engaged workforce. Check out these interesting stats that I found:
  • The Workplace Research Foundation measured the impact of employee engagement programs to be an increase of $2,400 in profit per employee per year.
  • IBM report shows that organizations that score in the top 25% on the employee experience area report that they see nearly 3x the return on assets as those in the bottom 25%
When you invest time and money into your employees and develop them as leaders, you make it so that your employees are invested in your company. This has a huge, positive impact on customer experience delivery. This is especially true in the contact center industry where agents are often overworked and feel underappreciated. That can be detrimental to your CX, because if you think about, you will realize that the contact center is your frontline. They are often the voice and face of your brand. You could have the best data mining technologies and smartest AI in place, but your customer experience can be negatively impacted if your agents are not equipped and empowered to provide the service your customers seek. If you have a customer-centric culture within your organization that is emphasized on every level from agent to CEO, you will develop a team that is dedicated to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Customer Connectedness
How are your customer insights infused across your organization? Customer feedback is king and technology is the driving force for customer connectedness.  Your technology solution should give your employees access to data from all channels to provide a seamless customer experience.  When you have an omni-channel strategy, it is important to have customer data follow them no matter what channel they are on. No matter which channel your customer uses, their information should flow effortlessly so that they receive a seamless experience rather than a fragmented one. A popular example of this is from Starbucks – they provide a blended in-store and digital experience through their mobile app. In their app, they address the pain point of waiting in long lines and allow their customers to skip the line and order ahead. This does not force customers to stick to one channel, but allows them to access different channels for added convenience.

We still have a long way to go in CX, but it is great to see many companies putting in the time and money to improve their efforts. If you are having challenges with CX delivery, I urge you to examine these four pillars closely to see which areas you can focus on. Perhaps you have executive support and high employee engagement, but you find that your technology is lacking the omni-channel strategy that you need. Or maybe you have the best technology out there, but you have a disengaged workforce. Wherever you are at now, just know there is always room for improvement!