Customer experience. It’s been a buzzword in the halls of many companies for years. But what does it really mean? On the surface, it’s simple – the experience a customer has with a brand. The term is often used synonymously with customer service. Yet this paints a very narrow picture, limiting the potential of true customer experience strategy and execution. By expanding your view of what customer experience actually is, you can unlock its potential in places that were previously hidden.
Customer experience should be defined as the entirety of interactions that a customer has with a company throughout the lifecycle of their relationship. Whether it’s the brand strategy, sales process, loyalty programs, customer service, social media interaction or even direct interaction with the product, each experience influences the next in the consumer’s mind. But, the success of these interactions requires much more than the customer-facing aspects that most companies consider. A carefully constructed ecosystem of operations and processes, technology enablers, and organizational capabilities must be aligned and ready to deliver value-building customer experiences. Every organization must understand that each part of the business is involved in the customer experience, and take the necessary steps to have both the on-stage and the off-stage (unseen) layers of the organization enable customer-facing interactions.
Consumers don’t think in terms of departments or silos. Your company is one entity, regardless of the internal elements involved to run the business. Remove the internal focus and division between “customer-facing” and “non-customer facing” groups and processes to deliver one experience to the customer. From billing and invoices to contact center process maps, technology implementations and employee training programs, all parts of the company should consider their role in influencing the customer experience.
Take, for example, the case of a leading hospital client. The facility’s goal was to improve the patient experience in the Emergency Services Department. By focusing on back-office operational processes, the hospital was able to make significant improvements in their patient experience. Through process mapping, detailed data analysis, and a review of current care delivery models, the team defined new workflows and established a new environment within the department that would achieve the desired results. The 111-step admission process was reduced to 46 steps. Time-to-admit was reduced by 14 percent and the time between arrival and seeing a physician was reduced from 27 minutes to 3 minutes. By focusing on off-stage processes, both efficiency and the patient experience improved.
As companies continue on their journey toward becoming more customer centric – with more channels, products, and silos emerging everyday – it’s important to focus on both the customer-facing interactions that have garnered so much attention as well as the back-end organizational enablers that allow these interactions to succeed. The simple fact is that everything you do affects the customer – not only what the customer sees.
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