ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Customer Experience: From Buzzword to Strategic Differentiator

What is it like to be your company's customer? If you were to call in to your center with a question; send an email with a complaint or concern, or attempt to reach out to you through Facebook or Twitter what would the experience be like?

The Customer Experience far is more than just a boardroom buzzword; it is the future of the customer service industry. The Customer Experience represents a major shift in the way that today's companies operate, and will continue to be a significant driver in the business world for decades to come. The Customer Experience can also give your company a lasting strategic advantage – but only if you align the disparate parts of your organization around a common vision and get them working together on a daily basis.

This article provides an overview of the ICMI webinar, Customer Experience: From Buzzword to Strategic Differentiator, featuring Kerry Bodine, Vice President, Principal Analyst Serving Customer Experience Professionals, Forrester, Mary Murcott, CEO & President, NOVO 1 Contact Centers and Laura Bassett Director of Marketing, Avaya’s Customer Experience Management and Emerging Technologies Groups.

Customer Experience And the “Age of the Customer”

What is Customer Experience, exactly? In this presentation, Kerry Bodine shares Forrester Research’s definition of Customer Experience, which is: How customers perceive their interactions with your company. How customers perceive are the key words in this definition. Kerry points out that it does not matter how well your company perceives the services it has provided, all that really matters is how customers are perceiving that service.

Kerry also explains that customer perceptions typically fall into one of three basic attributes of a successful customer experience. Once a customer has interacted with a company, these are the three primary ways that customer will perceive the outcome:

1. Meet Needs. “Is this company meeting my needs? Am I getting the value that I’m looking for from this interaction?”
2. Easy.“Is this company easy to do business with?”
3. Enjoyable. “Was it enjoyable to do business with this company? Was I able to connect with this company?”

It is also helpful to have an understanding of these perceptions so important to our contact centers, and to our business. Right now, our industry is experiencing what Forrester Research refers to as the “Age of the Customer.” In this new "Age," buyers are more empowered and more connected – to us and to each other - than ever before. Because of this, it is crucial for companies to understand their customers, and to connect with them. Not only that, but there are some major players in customer service (e.g., Starbucks, Disney, Zappos, eBay, etc.) that have really set the bar high for service. Once a customer has experienced truly exceptional service, they then expect it wherever they go.

Create a Great Customer Experience

So, what makes for a great Customer Experience? In the presentation, Mary Murcott shares key points from NOVO 1’s journey toward developing the WOW-worthy Customer Experience formula that it has today.

According to Murcott, great Customer Experience starts with your contact center’s culture. She says, “Great Customer Experience requires a culture of service.” Simply put, lead by example. If you contact center is not providing great service to your own team – your internal customers – how can you expect your team to provide great services to your external customers?

A good place to start is with the look and feel of your center. Does your team feel comfortable in their environment? For example, the call center at NOVO 1 looks very much like a living room: couches and comfy chairs are spread out in the center, facing one another and inviting group conversations. Here is where the team holds their coaching sessions, interviewing and team meetings. This living room is also where you’ll find Laura Adams - a life-size doll poised in the middle of the living to remind the NOVO 1 team that the customer is always “front and center.”

Murcott also shared that her team sought out the values of some of the major customer service players mentioned above - like Zappos – when they were developing their own culture and service values, and tried to emulate them where it was applicable. The result is the following six Culture Defining Values: Employees First, Customer Obsessed, Do the Right Thing, Innovative, Community, Fun and a Little Quirkiness.

NOVO 1 also echoes Forrester’s claim that the contact center needs to understand what the customers wants out of an interaction, versus what a company may think a customer wants. Seek out data around this: review your Voice of the Customer survey data or other outside research from reputable sources.

The New Customer Service Reality

Customer Experience is a differentiator. Laura Bassett shares some key research finding from Avaya that assert just how off the mark many businesses are when it comes to being on the same page with their customers in providing great service.

Access this webinar on-demand, and you will also learn:

  • Why it’s imperative to focus on the customer experience, including data examples from Forrester Research
  • How the emerging role of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is reshaping the way companies work
  • What role the contact center plays in this new arena, including the differences between Customer Service and Customer Experience, and what metrics come into play
  • Tips for getting started – moving from strategy to hands-on tactics

The presentation also includes the audience Q&A session – and there’s still time to submit your questions. (Please note that the Q&A is no longer live, so there will be a lag in when your questions are answered.) 

Customer Experience: From Buzzword to Strategic Differentiator webinar, sponsored by Avaya.

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.