Taking Service to the Next Level: Customer Experience Management

(Editor’s Note: First in a series)

            Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is a hot topic these days among customer service professionals. The reason is that CXM is a powerful strategy that builds upon the delivery of excellent customer service. Gartner, a leader in information technology research, defines customer experience management as “the practices of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

            Customer experience management is built upon customer service. Customers rely on their utilities to provide quality customer service and in fact, many customers take reliable service delivery for granted, only caring when the delivery is not as expected, such as an outage, high bill or any number of other service concerns.  

Delivering reliable service and responding to service inquiries has and continues to be a core tenet of achieving high customer satisfaction. But increasingly, the bar is being raised. Customers are comparing their utility service to other providers, who are routinely combining great service, with a thorough understanding of the individual customer, and thereby are able to provide a more valued, personalize experience in the customer’s choice of channel.

Utilities are investing in customer experience management to increase satisfaction and improve efficiencie. From a customer satisfaction perspective, designing and delivering a personalized customer experience creates highly satisfied customers that are willing to share their great experience with others. This builds the overall brand. CXM by design places great importance on thoughtfully engineering the best customer experience, then delivering on this experience every time, consistently in every channel. This yields high first-contact resolution and a reduction in rework.

So what is involved with CXM? Utilities that are investing in a CXM have some commonalities. They all have a clear vision for the customer experience they want to offer their customers. There is investment in designing the customer experience, using tools like journey mapping. These companies listen, act and measure the voice of the customer.  And companies are applying a governance structure to ensure customer experience initiatives are integrated and aligned.  

Customer Experience Vision

            Companies successful with customer experience management are grounded in a common customer experience vision. This vision serves to guide employees in designing and delivering on the customer experience. The vision statement often describes attributes for service delivery.

Customer Experience Design

            The real heart and soul of CXM is the design and consistent delivery on the CX design.  And journey mapping is one of the best methods for developing the design. Journey mapping tells the story of the customer’s experience. It identifies the key interactions the customer has with the organization and the touch points. Importantly, the journey map offers an organization the opportunity to design the “Ëœbest’ customer experience and develop initiatives to deliver consistently on the CX design in all channels.

Voice of the Customer

            To be successful in creating the best customer experience, companies must understand their customers’ needs and what matters most to them. Hence, companies are listening, measuring and acting on the voice of the customer like never before.

Utilities are using a variety of tools to listen to the voices of their customers and importantly understand their customers. These tools include traditional survey methods and customer focus groups. But new tools are entering the mix, such as online customer panels, or tools that can efficiently scan customer calls or emails for repeat issues or frustration points.

In addition to listening to the voice of the customer, companies are measuring the customer experience. Traditional measurement of overall customer satisfaction and transactional satisfaction are widely used. Companies are also measuring customer effort and whether a customer would recommend their company to others, to build upon traditional measurement.

Governance

            Many companies are putting a CX Steering team in place to provide governance to their customer experience management. The steering team includes executives from different areas of the company. Their role is to plan, guide and prioritize customer experience initiatives. These steering teams actively review customer analytics and feedback and develop the overall customer experience strategy for the enterprise.

Utilities are committed to providing customers with excellent service. The practice of customer experience management takes service to the next level by enabling utilities to provide a customized experience for customers, consistently, in the channel of their choice. But CXM does not come by chance. Companies successfully delivering on CXM have a clear vision, are listening to customers and delivering on defined customer journeys, and have a governance structure in place that ensures an aligned and integrated approach.

About the Author: Penni McLean-Conner is chief customer officer at Eversource Energy, the largest energy delivery company in New England. She serves on several boards, including the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

 

 

 

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