Complex customer experiences require a well-thought out process that identifies and optimizes value throughout the customer interaction process. The pace of advancing technology, rising customer expectations, and competitive pressures are all hammering away at companies looking to improve the customer experience.
Customer experience excellence is always a work in process; making it difficult for “out-of-the-box” software (e.g., CRM) to meet the unique needs of customers and businesses. Oddly enough, most of these types of software products are focused on customer data and configured to support internal processes, not customer needs or processes. This is a critical flaw.
Customer journey mapping is one exercise that companies perform to understand the customer touch points requiring attention. Regardless of the method used, companies need to look at each customer interaction from the perspective of the customer’s experience. According to a Gartner, 86% of the customers who changed service providers did so because of a bad customer experience. Eliminating unnecessary tasks and streamlining customer facing processes leads to faster service times, lower call handling times, and a number of other benefits. Customer service software should be built to support or at least be capable of supporting the ideal customer process.
Let’s take a deeper look at why out-of-the-box solutions may have difficulty realizing customer experience goals.
Fitting a square peg in a round hole
Part of the predicament is in how rarely companies actively analyze the metrics around the customer experience as The Temkin Group outlines in this diagram. Additionally, the data shows that only 10% of the companies surveyed are either good or very good at measuring customer experience metrics as an integral part of operations across the organization. The lack of a sound strategy explains to some degree why the inward focus on technology and internal processes (that is common with out of the box software) take precedence over creating an outstanding customer experience. Thus, the square peg called "out of the box solutions" doesn't quite match up to the round hole associated with the needs of the customer.
The ROI is measurable
There are many moving parts required to gauge the financial impact of the customer experience. Measuring the cost factors and ROI of great customer experiences is not easy, but it is doable.
For instance, a recent study by Forrester Research indicates that the average large bank can increase revenues by about $210 million a year by delivering a better customer experience, quantified in three areas, with over half driven by reductions in customer churn, followed by increased share-of-wallet and word-of-mouth driven acquisition.
Customization is King
In a perfect world, every single customer experience process will be custom to the requirements and needs of the customer. Is it impossible? Maybe. However, getting as close to this state as possible is nothing short of required for businesses to compete. Settling for software that meets up to 70% of the customer service needs of the business is not enough to stay ahead. Customer service is THE differentiating factor that determines customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
An out-of-the-box solution MAY deliver a lower up front price tag than a custom solution but is likely to cost significantly more when a 3 or 5 year total cost of ownership assessment is performed. Even more importantly is the impact on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. If you knew that the software you were using meant you would lose 5 more customers, 50 more customers, 500 more customers… would you factor that into your decision to select a product to stop that blood loss? Out of the box software can end up costing an exponential amount to wrangle the software to TRY do what you want it to.
Force-fitting your customer-facing processes into an out of the box solution can kill your customer experience strategy and is a recipe for disaster, unless the product mirrors the needs of the customer. We’ve been engaged by a number of clients for this very reason (read our case studies).
Looking at solutions designed around the process can greatly aid customer experience initiatives. Due diligence will prove valuable to both your organization and your customer.