“You can’t transform something you don’t understand. If you don’t know and understand what the current state of the customer experience is, how can you possibly design the desired future state?”— Annette Franz
Getting customers’ feedback about your brand or services, plays a crucial role in improving the customers’ journey. Until and unless you are unaware about customers’ reaction, you will not be able to streamline their experience with your business. To structure a perfect journey for customers, firstly you have to understand them, then only you can improve their experiences.
Annette Franz, the great customer experience leader stated that “You can’t transform something that you don’t understand” is so true. To decide future state of customer experience you have to know about current state. Annette Franz is the founder of CX Journey and an internationally recognized CX leader who is helping different organizations to build customer experience strategies.
She is helping businesses from last 25+ years and raise them from ground to a customer centric culture. Additionally, she works upon customer retention, satisfaction and engagement strategies.
Read ahead to find her thoughts on customer experience.
1. How did you become passionate about customer experience? What made you choose this field?
I don’t have an exciting story about how it happened, sadly! I basically fell into this profession when I started at J.D. Power and Associates almost 30 years ago. My love of math and writing made for the perfect combination for the classic market researcher. What we were doing made total sense to me. I enjoyed working with companies to improve their businesses and, ultimately, the customer experience in order to grow and thrive.
2. As you are a CX expert, tell us some challenges when it comes to serving customers?
The biggest challenges really come from within the company: leadership that is more focused on shareholder value than on customer value; corporate cultures that weren’t deliberately designed to be customer-centric; and not truly caring about employees and ensuring that they have the tools, systems, resources, processes, and policies in place to serve customers the way they deserve to be served.
3. In your opinion, what is the definition of a good customer experience?
First, let’s define what customer experience is. It is the sum of all the interactions (including with product and price) that a customer has with an organization over the life of the “relationship” with that company… and, importantly, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions and whether their problems were solved.
Customer experience and customer service are two different things. Customer experience is the umbrella discipline. Customer service is one of those interactions.
A good customer experience is memorable, consistent, simple, effortless, easy, frictionless, convenient, relevant, seamless, personal(ized), and emotional.
4. What would you want to suggest to people who are new to the business field?
That’s a pretty broad question, but I will say this: you’ve got to take care of your employees, who will then take care of your customers. Focus on the people, and the numbers will come.
5. What are the basic steps that every business can ensure to improve the customer experience?
The most important thing any business can do to improve the customer experience is to spend time understanding customers. You can’t transform (or improve) something you don’t understand. Customer understanding is achieved in three ways: listening (feedback, data), characterizing (personas), and empathizing (journey maps). When you take the time to understand who your customers are, you learn who they truly are; what their pain points, problems to solve, and jobs to be done are; and how well you are helping them to achieve all of that. If you’re not bringing the customer voice into all you do, you don’t design an experience for them and cannot help them solve their problems; ultimately, you are not delivering value for them. When you help them and deliver value, you have a foundation for customer retention and loyalty.
6. Have you felt any changes in the process of delivering a great customer experience earlier and now?
I’ve been in this customer experience consulting profession for more than 25 years, starting at J.D. Power and Associates in the early ‘90s, when “customer experience” wasn’t yet a thing: we talked about “customer satisfaction” and “customer loyalty.” It’s been an interesting evolution over the years, and yet, in some ways, we are still where we were 25 years ago! What we were doing made total sense to me – it’s why I find it so hard to believe that focusing on the customer and the employee aren’t no-brainers. But here’s one difference. Back then, I used to talk to my clients all the time about the employee experience, and they’d push off the employees to listen to customers first, without really understanding the implications of doing that. Today, some companies are finally seeing the importance of putting employees more first.
7. Do you think innovation is necessary to ensure a good customer experience?
Yes and no. At a day-to-day tactical level, it’s more important to ensure that employees have a great experience and have, as I mentioned earlier, the tools, systems, resources, processes, and policies in place to serve customers the way they deserve to be served. At a higher, more-strategic level, a good customer experience doesn’t just happen by chance. You’ve got to have the right culture in place, and you’ve got to spend time understanding customers – who they are and their pain points, problems to solve, and jobs to be done, plus how well you’re currently delivering against all that – in order to innovate and design a great experience for customers.
8. Would you like to share some tips from your book, “Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience.”
The biggest tip I can share is to buy it and read it! It’s very practical and actionable. I talked earlier about the three ways to understand customers and the importance of doing so. In the book, I go into the details on not just what these are and why they are important but also on how to do each one.
9. Are you working on any new book? If yes, can you please elaborate little about it?
I just might be! I’m not ready to reveal any details about it yet, but the next one will cover more than customer understanding and will again include a lot of practical and actionable information.
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