On the road to delivering an optimal customer experience for their outside customers, many Business-to-Business (B2B) companies overlook the crucial role their employees play in this make-or-break undertaking.
CX Journey Inc. Founder and CEO Annette Franz also focuses on inside customers (a.k.a. employees) when helping companies craft a winning customer experience strategy. The CCXP started her journey managing research at J.D. Power, followed by a stint with toymaker Mattel. Currently she’s a Vice Chair of the board for the Customer Experience Professionals Association.
Along with technology, the way we interact with our customers is constantly evolving. Annette Franz identifies some of the biggest customer experience trends that we can expect to see in 2019. She also sheds some light on how these trends can impact, and be impacted by, the way companies interact with their employees.
Q1: What advice would you give to B2B companies looking to improve their customer experience?
The main thing for them to know is that the work that they need to do to develop their customer experience transformation strategies is the same that B2C companies need to do. They need a vision and a strategy. They must have a culture that reflects their commitment to customer experience and customer centricity.
They must understand their customers and the current experience by developing personas, listening to customers and mapping their experiences. And then, most importantly, they need to do something with what they learn!
That last statement seems like a no-brainer, but trust me, I’ve seen plenty companies do the understanding piece without actually implementing what they learned.
Q2: What are some ways you've learned to measure customer satisfaction?
Ultimately, the best way to measure customer satisfaction is to listen to, or ask, your customers. There are a many ways to do this including transactional and relationship surveys, customer interviews, customer advisory boards, online communities, social media and voice of the customer (VOC) through employees.
The art form in measuring is to ask the right questions.
Another point I’d like to make here is around the metrics you decide to track. Pick the right ones for your organization and for the transaction or interaction you’re measuring. Whatever the metric, be sure to link that to business outcomes.
Q3: How does employee experience impact customer experience?
Without your employees, you have no customer experience. The linkage between customer experience and employee engagement has been proven. It's real!
If your employees aren't engaged, satisfied, happy, and having a great experience, it will be very difficult for them to delight your customers.
In simple terms, this describes the “spillover effect,” which is defined as “the tendency of one person’s emotions to affect how other people around him feel.” If employees aren’t cared for and taken care of, it’s very hard for them to care for and take care of their customers.
Q4: Is convenience a key factor in customer experience?
Yes. Convenience comes in a lot of different forms, but it is a factor in designing a great customer experience. When it’s easy to get the job done, and when it’s easy to do what you’re trying to do, the experience is so much better.
Ultimately, the goal of any customer experience transformation should be to reduce or remove friction from a customer’s interactions or transactions, making it easier and more convenient to do business with the brand.
Q5: What are some things you think might impact the customer experience in 2019?
Two things that I believe will continue to impact the customer experience in 2019 are technology and the employee experience. Existing and emerging technology will drive changes in how businesses understand, engage, and interact with customers. It’s a constant we’ll see every year.
The one thing to remember is that the technology is not the experience; the technology is a tool that facilitates the experience. As a result, all of the other foundational work – vision, strategy, understanding, employee experience, designing, etc. - needs to be done in order to design a great experience.
It feels like companies are starting to take note that employee experience is important – both to employees and to customers. Let’s keep that going and make it more than a feeling, as I believe it needs to become reality.
Companies need to realize that without employees they have no customer experience. I believe there will be a much greater focus on employees this year.
With over 25 years of experience in helping companies provide the best experience for their customers and employees, Annette Franz has become a leading voice in both the tech and customer experience communities.
In 2014, she was named one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter” by Business Insider, and she remains an active voice on Twitter and other social media channels.
As the Founder and CEO of CX Journey, Franz regularly writes about customer experience trends in a number of different industries. Learn more about Annette and her work at her site or follow her on Twitter!