Customer Experience News & Trends

The top 3 barriers to delivering great experiences — and how to overcome them

When it comes to delivering great customer experiences, you might be tripping over your own feet.

We often blame the situation, another department or — perish the thought — customers when something doesn’t go right in a customer experience. But, according to recent research by J.D. Power and Associates, the problem is more likely in the process, not the people.

Payoffs abound

Companies that recognize these internal barriers to creating great customer experiences and overcome them see serious results. In fact, J.D. Power found that companies that provide higher quality experiences than their competitors also:

  • acquire customers at a faster rate
  • obtain a greater share of wallet
  • retain a larger portion of their customers
  • command higher prices for their products and services, and
  • reduce their costs to serve.

Here are the three biggest internal barriers to great customer experiences and ways to overcome them:

1. Focus on the little ‘r’ instead of the big ‘R’

Every company — and especially its customer service arm — talks about and works to fix the root causes of problems. But they often focus on the little “r” in the root — the immediate problem — rather than the big “R” in the root — the deeper customer need.

J.D. Power suggests you can fix the right “R” by defining your unique value proposition. Answer these:

  • Why should customers do business with you instead of your competitors?
  • What sets you apart from the others?
  • What is your reason for doing business?
  • What pain points to do you address for customers better than competitors?

When you define your value, you can test every problem against it to find the big “R” and fix it. Ensure all parts of your operations stand up to your values.

2. Stepping over the dollar to pick up the dime

Customers often put efforts to improve the customer experience on the back burner because on paper it looks like a huge investment that doesn’t carry much urgency.

But J.D. Power researchers found that many companies don’t invest in customer experience improvements because they aren’t sure how to develop a solid business case with a quantifiable ROI. Instead, they take on the easy wins — upgrade a component so a product won’t fail or add a part-timer to take overflow calls — not bigger, lasting changes that provide the long-term benefits.

3. Measuring, not managing

Almost every company measures the customer experience with real-time and in-depth feedback, volumes of data and personal observation. It doesn’t matter how expensive or sophisticated the systems to gather are — or aren’t — most companies aren’t using them to learn and manage relationships better.

Researchers found that companies that do effectively measure and manage their feedback do:

  1. Act on all the information they collect. For each listening post, define a specific action you’ll take based on what you hear.
  2. Design a measurement system with actions in mind. Find where you can make the biggest impact on the customer experience. Identify the areas that can be improved, and set the expectations and action steps for how to improve those areas.
  3. Establish a planning cycle. Prioritize the improvements you expect to make and schedule at least a mid-year review of the information you’ve gathered and what you’ve done.
  4. Manage the front line. Feedback should come at the individual level. Finding out how an employee does, and regularly discussing what went well and what can go better, is more effective than monthly department or product line reports.
  5. Close the loop. Let customers know you have heard about a problem and how you’re going to address it. When it’s resolved or changed, tell them what you did.

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