By Kathy Egan
Manager, Merlyn Customer Support Services
The future of Customer Experience is ambient. As an organisation, the thinking culture must be: How do we make our customers lives easier and easier each day? How do we measure and assess the experience our customer has in order to understand if we are easy to do business with…or exceptional to do business with? How agile is the organisation in reacting to our customers?
To measure success, you must measure both the operational measures of how fast and easy customers can get through to you, and also the journey that they experience when they get through and across the multiple channels.
Service and transactional service are to a large extent very easy to measure. How fast are you answering your calls, what is your AHT, what is your abandon rate? What was the turnaround time on your complaints? The challenge in terms of assessing your customer experience is doing away with targets that mean nothing to your customers, for example, 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds. You need to challenge the organisation as to how to answer 100% of calls from your customers. This thinking will drive a whole different level of behaviours from teams and ensure that they are focused on experience rather than a list of calls in a queue.
This is the same for any channel – phone, e-mail, web chat etc. Your first assessment of the customer experience is how fast customers can access you or get connected with whatever channel they are using – even if this is a Bot/AI channel you need access to be expedient and to be accurate so that you can answer their query. If you fail at this part, you have not measured the first stage of your customer experience. The same is true for e- mail or web chats which are commonly used channels also. When a customer presses the send button, their experience starts from there, regardless of channel, and they require an instant response. You must find the most efficient and competent way to do this, and you must measure your response from each channel.
The next stage of assessing the customer experience is what happens when the customer has started their journey with your organisation. Is it a first-time resolution answer? Does this effectively close the experience out in a positive way for the customer? My company measures this stage of the journey by checking each transaction to see if we received 5 stars for no effort being undertaken by the customer to get their needs addressed. We also measure whether customers have had to access omni channels to resolve their experience. If you concentrate on all the touchpoints that a customer can access you through, then you must apply measures to each of these to understand the whole journey that your customer is experiencing, and whether any of these touchpoints is your weakest link.
You must apply relentless focus to working through your Customer Effort/Experience score and your Journey NPS and you must also ensure that your CES questions reflect the whole journey and not just a partial one. This is one of the biggest learnings as an organisation that we have worked through, i.e. ensuring that the customer jouney includes all channels that the customer interacts with us on and that we measure the experience on each. Working the two measurements together ensures you will make changes in your organisation as the answers you get will focus you on where the experience gaps are. It could be as simple as your product instructions being marginally wrong or not user friendly, it may be that your web chat only provides a partial service. If you focus on your negative scores, you will learn a wealth of information about what has gone wrong.
There is only one true measure of Customer Experience – and that comes through the eyes of the customer. You can only measure and assess the experience if you are getting feedback directly from your customer and combining that with your operational measures.
Kathy Egan is a high calibre customer experience specialist at Merlyn Showering’s headquarters in Kilkenny, Ireland. In this role she has developed Merlyn’s service offering to be a key differentiator in the industry. This has contributed to making Merlyn the no 1 shower enclosure brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Additionally, under her leadership Merlyn Customer Service was named small contact centre of the year for both 2016 and 2017.
Kathy’s previous experience includes managing international service for the Waterford Crystal brand, setting up a multi- lingual contact centre for Modus Media and establishing a training centre for the Lafferty Group.