There is a common refrain (dare I say, excuse?) from teams who don’t see themselves as dealing with customers. They say: “But I’m in accounting/learning and development/logistics. So customer experience issues don’t really apply to me and my work.”
I beg to differ. And strongly!
First, what is this customer experience thing?
This may seem obvious, but we need to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Customer experience is often defined as the summary of interactions your customer has with your brand. While this is basically true, it’s also about what those interactions lead to. How does your customer feel about those individual experiences? And how do they feel about the entire end-to-end journey with your brand? This starts before they become a customer and often ends after they’ve left!
Perception is reality, and if they feel wronged or unsatisfied, that’s the story they will tell.
What does customer experience have to do with those teams who don’t deal with customers directly?
Well, what doesn’t it have to do with them?
Take Learning and Development, also known as L&D, for example. If the leadership of this group isn’t aware of what experience the brand is trying to deliver, how can training and professional development be aligned internally? It can’t. If learning is focused solely on internal ideas like process and systems, then employees see their role as task-based instead of experience-based.
Learning becomes much more meaningful if we understand how our roles inside an organization impact the customers we serve. That process we’re learning could be the difference between an easy, convenient experience for the customer and a painful, frustrating one.
Other teams like accounting and product often feel like they aren’t really part of the customer’s experience since they don’t interact directly with customers. But this is simply not true. The product itself has a direct relationship with the customer, even if those who work on that team don’t. They need to consider the actual experience customers have and how their work affects it.
And accounting is often sending regular invoices or implementing processes that definitely impact customers. Sometimes, the only regular communications customers receive from a company is the monthly invoice! Does that line up with the experience we are looking to deliver? Often, it’s written in language that is punitive and judgmental. It can feel cold and impersonal to the customer. They have a direct impact on the experience! Improving this one touchpoint can make a positive difference in the customer’s journey.
Why should any of us really care about customer experience?
I cringe when I hear customer experience described as that “touchy feely stuff” or training around it referred to as “soft skills.”
There is nothing woo-woo about the results customer-focused organizations achieve.
Forrester reported in 2018 that experience-driven businesses have a greater average year-on-year increase than other brands, 2.2 times more in fact. And customers are becoming less loyal. In the 2019 Future of CX report, Forrester reports declining loyalty in Generations X, Y and Z. This means brands who have relied on “that’s the brand we always buy” will have to compete on experience in new ways to earn the customers of tomorrow.
Customer experience means business.
The best organizations break down the silos and create universal understandings on behalf of the customer. This means different departments and teams will be more likely to collaborate and solve problems on behalf of the customer.
In Harvard Business Review’s recent study on using data to drive customer loyalty, they found there is a direct link between breaking down these silos and delivering great experiences. 60% of the leaders in customer loyalty involve product development and R&D in improving the customer experience. Only 32% of the laggards in the study do!
Who should be involved in customer experience?
Your entire organization is made up of people who serve your customers. Even if they don’t talk to customers on a daily basis, they need to feel connected to the overall experience. Customers need great products, communication and support throughout their journey. To provide this type of exceptional experience, your internal teams must understand the importance of customer experience and their role in it. The results are there if you want them. But you can’t ignore certain teams or departments simply because they don’t see themselves as “customer facing.”
Leaders today need to clearly define the vision of the experience your brand is committed to delivering, and then get your teams – all of them – on board with that vision. Do you know what’s holding you back?