How Technology Contributes to Customer ExperienceBy Guest Author Print
By being proactive, a company can dazzle its customers with great service. The biggest payoffs often come from providing information and setting expectations.
Technology also can be used to confirm service delivery, eliminating unnecessary service costs.
· When New Jersey Natural Gas makes an appointment for a home visit, it asks for the customer’s preferred communication channel. At 2:30 p.m. on the day before the visit, the company emails or texts a confirmation that the technician will call at 8:15 a.m. with an approximate arrival time. This eliminates multiple confirmation calls from the customer and reduces the number of times the customer is not present when the technician arrives.
Listening to the Customer
Finally, the technology department can help the company’s service and quality departments create an effective voice-of-the-customer process that lets the company know how much money it loses due to consumer problems and what the payoff of an enhanced customer experience might be.
· The Cheesecake Factory and Hilton both use their bill-generation system as the basis for a voice-of-the-customer process. If a customer has a problem, an adjustment is made to the bill, along with a coded reason. Customer survey data and other inputs, such as mystery shops data, are tied to the information in the billing system. This compilation provides the basis for quality improvement, training, incentives and product development.
Five prerequisites must be in place if the technology, service, quality and marketing departments are to partner successfully to enhance the customer experience and maximize the company’s bottom line. These are:
· A process map of the current and ideal customer experience should be developed jointly by technology and other key departments. The map provides the context for all customer experience and technology implementations, ensuring that they are coordinated.
· A common customer identifier must exist across all databases and transaction systems so that all process failures can be flagged, and the organization can proactively communicate to the customer about impending process failures and financial actions such as late charges.
· Key operational databases must be able to flag and communicate process failures. This data, using a common customer identifier, feeds both psychic pizza actions and the voice of the customer.
· The company’s Website must be reoriented to balance education and support with traditional marketing and sales activities.
· The marketing and sales departments must understand and accept the idea that proactive communication is vital and that setting proper customer expectations enhances long- term loyalty.
Technology, working with service, can get support from the finance, marketing and quality departments to invest in proactive customer experience initiatives by making the following case:
· Preventing a customer problem or unpleasant surprise increases loyalty by an average of 20 percent. Further, just one customer problem doubles that customer's sensitivity to price, and two problems will double sensitivity.
· The marketing department will be able to use the integrated CRM, survey and operational data to measure and manage the impact of word of mouth and word of “mouse” (Web comments).
· Your CRM technology tied to operational databases will allow your company to anticipate customers’ problems so you can proactively prevent at least 10 percent of them.
· The marketing and sales departments will be more able to set proper customer expectations. Unpleasant sales and marketing surprises create four times more damage to loyalty on a per-problem basis than product quality problems do.
In summary, psychic pizza can be a huge differentiator, but it will be successful only if the technology department provides the tools necessary to allow the rest of the company to more effectively set and meet customer expectations.
John Goodman is vice chair of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC). He is also the author of Strategic Customer Service, and his new book, Customer Experience 3.0, will be published this summer. Email him at [email protected].
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