We’re pleased to have Annette Franz Gleneicki share with us her perspective on several questions that keep customer experience professionals up at night.
Annette is a widely-known thought leader in the field of customer experience management. Today, she shares with us her thoughts and opinions on the field and her answers to some its most germane questions. You can learn more about Annette at the bottom of this article and we thank her for taking the time to speak with us today 1.
1. Annette, can you briefly share with the audience what led you, among all the possible areas of business, to focus on the customer experience?
First, Pete, thank you for asking me to do this interview. I’ve been an avid follower of your blog for some time now.
The story about how I ended up as a customer experience professional isn’t all that exciting. My degree is in Management, but I love numbers, writing, and telling a story, so when I interviewed at J.D. Power and Associates in the early 1990s, I knew I needed to land that position. Five years later, I left with quite the education on what customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and voice of the customer were, along with the importance of all of the above. And the rest, as they say, is history – I’m still working with clients today to deliver the message, “focus on the customer experience and the business will come.”
I’m currently a Director of Customer Experience Management Strategy for Confirmit. In this capacity, I’m not only defining the strategy and methodology that our consultants use to work with our clients but I am also in charge of designing our own customer experience management approach.
2. Can you share with us the best experience you’ve had as a customer? What made it so good?
I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it’s the best I had recently. I was in a minor accident back in February, and my insurance agency (Automobile Club of Southern California) quite literally took care of everything: they rented a car, processed the claim quickly, paid promptly for repairs, contacted me proactively, openly communicated, provided contact information to easily get ahold of them, provided manager contact information to escalate an issue (if needed), and genuinely cared for my well-being. It’s exactly what you want from a “negative services industry” (those industries you don’t think of until you need them) experience. I’ve been a AAA member for 27 years, and they’ve been my insurance provider for as long; that experience solidified my loyalty to the organization.
I was also reminded today of an experience with Apple. My kids had gotten iPod Touches for Christmas in 2011, and my younger son, upon getting out of the car one day, dropped his on the driveway. I hadn’t bought a case for it yet, and of course, the screen shattered. I researched online what could be done, and in the end, I went to the Apple store to see if they could repair it. I was pleasantly surprised when they replaced the iPod – free of charge. The Apple associate looked at my son, listened to the story, and really came across with empathy and understanding. Without a second thought, he said he’d just replace it. I’m a fan.
3. Is the customer always right?
The customer isn’t always right, but you must always do right by the customer. You’ll gain way more by doing right than by arguing and blaming.
4. In terms of customer experience metrics, many companies use the Net Promoter Score. What other metrics, from your experience, effectively measure the customer experience?
Choosing or recommending a metric is a very “personal” thing – personal to the company that is going to use it. NPS is not the best answer for everyone. The appropriate metric to use is the one that best links to your desired business outcomes – not the one that everyone else is using.
Having said that, there are two I like:
- likelihood to purchase again (or likelihood to continue doing business): if the focus is on customer retention because customer acquisition is more costly, this is a great metric to reinforce that – but it must be linked with actual behavior and financial data to confirm it’s the right metric for you.
- customer effort score: being easy to do business with, however that is defined by your customers, is an important delighter in the customer experience; understanding the customer’s effort to achieve what they are trying to achieve is important to gauge that.
The most important thing I’d like to convey is to remember not to focus on the metric – it can rally the troops and get everyone to focus on the customer experience, but that moving that number shouldn’t be the main goal.
5. Tell us about the role of process improvement in the field of customer experience? Are they compatible, how?
Process improvement is an integral component in the field of customer experience. It is one way in which businesses improve the customer experience. Bad processes lead to bad experiences.
There are a lot of different tools that can be used or approaches that can be taken; to get started, I like to see companies using customer journey maps (external view) and process maps (internal view).
Customer journey maps are created from the customer viewpoint; they help companies walk in their customers’ shoes, listen to their customers’ voices, and identify pain points customers have when interacting with the organization. On the other hand, process maps are the internal view of the customer journey and show all the back-office processes and activities that support the customer experience along the lifecycle; with process maps, companies get a view of what happens behind the scenes, i.e., what tools employees use and what processes they have to go through to deliver their piece of the customer experience.
Once they understand the painpoints, they can then use root cause analysis to drill deep to understand which processes are broken.
I realize I’ve simplified process improvement for the sake of a brief answer, but it’s important for businesses to remove broken, outdated, unnecessary, or cumbersome processes that inhibit or hinder the customer experience.
6. Any final words of advice, or anything else you’d like to share?
My final words of advice: focus on the employee experience first. Making sure your employees are taken care of ensures that your customers will be taken care of, too.
Annette Franz Gleneicki is a customer experience executive focused on improving both customer and employee experiences. Through her blog, CX Journey, Annette shares her passion for helping companies understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering an exceptional customer experience, as well as how to transform their cultures to ensure the customer is at the center of every conversation.