Conflict Cripples the Customer Experience

NEW YORK -- As the first day of the destinationCRM 2008 conference kicked off here at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, sessions focusing on how to improve the customer experience pointed to one major flaw that must be corrected: conflict.

Lior Arussy, president of customer experience consulting firm Strativity Group, and leader of the session “Experiential Customer Service—How to Wow Your Customers and CFO,” says myriad differences between company and customer ecosystems is a bump in the road to service excellence no one can ignore. “If you take away nothing else I want you to know this, the inherent conflict between companies and customers is extremely important,” he said.

Arussy, who also happens to be a columnist for CRM magazine, went on to explain that both companies and their consumers are worried about their own internal issues. Companies, he argued, ask themselves two basic questions:

  • How do I increase margins?
  • How do I reduce costs?

Alternatively, customers, he said, ask themselves:

  • How do I increase my experiences and satisfaction?
  • How do I get a reduction in price?

This conflict causes companies to not follow through on their promise to make customer-centric strategies a priority, because the organizations are not truly thinking about what the customers’ concerns are. According to this year’s Stravitity Group Global Customer Experience Management benchmark study, 82 percent state that customer strategies are more important now than three years ago, and only 1 percent said it was less important. However, only 37 percent of companies say the role of the customer is well-defined, and 28.6 percent say company executives meet frequently with customers to find out their real thoughts. “Executives get a very filtered view of their customers, with the right pie charts and graphs,” he said.

Focusing on product innovation as opposed to customers, Arussy argued, is misguided. “You cannot innovate products fast enough, but you can differentiate on customer service every day,” he said. “At the end of the day it is a people business, and the difference is humanity in a day of anonymity.”

The next session, led by Ken Landoline, program manager for enterprise research, customer-centric strategies at Yankee Group, built upon Arussy’s conclusions by digging into creating customer experiences by exceeding expectations one interaction at a time. “Is satisfying customers enough? No,” he declared. “It’s about delighting people and making them want to come back. Every day, we have to make our customers happier.”

In the quest to determine what customers really want today in terms of a memorable experience they receive when dealing with contact centers, Landoline broke it down into the following demands:

  • multichannel access (anywhere/any mode);
  • flexible, dynamic menus;
  • personalized call flows;
  • last call-based interactions;
  • flexible, contextual help;
  • dynamic call flow;
  • history-based transactions;
  • customer interest-specific flows; and
  • consistency across access channels.

The most important of these, according to him, is the first—providing multichannel access to consumers anywhere, anytime. “This [tenet] is the most important thing to change our industry,” he said. “It will be critical to success for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Landoline concluded by throwing a question out to the attendees. “Is satisfying customers enough? No,” he declared. “It’s about delighting people and making them want to come back. Every day, we have to make our customers happy and happier.”

Click here for more of our destinationCRM 2008 coverage.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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