The following Insights post is contributed by Lynn Hunsaker, CEO of ClearAction and expert JPK Group Presenter.
Do intelligence and actionability go hand-in-hand? The basic difference between data and intelligence is this: data are facts, and intelligence is the arrangement of data to convey meaning. In other words, intelligence is a capacity for applying a combination of facts. Customer experience intelligence, then, is a capacity to apply facts about what customers perceive, with the aim of improving their experience.
Who’s acting on your customer experience intelligence? Most likely your company is applying such intelligence to prioritize or fine-tune marketing investments, adjust your product portfolio, improve user-friendliness of your website or store, make real-time recommendations for customer service paths, customize offers, and proactively influence a customers from the brink of defecting to one of your competitors. This list of applications is largely focused on marketing, service, and sales. It’s typically about touch-points and getting customers to do things for your company.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in some ways it’s the tip of the iceberg. What if customer intelligence was applied:
1. Upstream in the company to prevent customers from being on the brink of defecting to one of your competitors?
Every functional area’s processes, policies, and handoffs have a ripple effect on customers’ well-being. Continually educate engineering, operations, finance, safety, quality, facilities, HR, IT, etc. Set a cadence for them to digest customer intelligence as part of their ongoing work. Make it easy for them to share their progress so you can close the loop with customers at-large about progress. Aim at preventing issue recurrence. Encourage cross-functional collaboration to tackle the chronic issues. Show all of these work groups what mutual value means, and how to use creativity techniques to innovate any aspect of customer experience.This customer experience intelligence actionability will enable you reduce costs of service recovery, retention, and enticements. It helps your company do the right things right the first time. You’ll be able to re-channel investments from remedial efforts to value creation. And that’s the recipe to becoming irresistible to customers, making the most of precious resources, and growing organically.
2. To the rituals of running your company to influence the ways people think and do (read: culture)?
People see through facades these days; they can smell your motives a mile away. Apply customer experience intelligence to staff meetings, ops reviews, performance reviews, criteria for hiring and succession, onboarding, training and development, compensation and recognition, internal and external policies, etc. Many of these things have been shaped by someone’s whim or self-serving factors rather than customers’ well-being. It’s common sense if you acknowledge that your company’s existence is thanks to satisfied customers. Facilitate permeation of customer experience intelligence into the fabric of your company’s DNA.This customer experience intelligence actionability will enable you to see long-lasting benefits for all of your company’s stakeholders. Employees will perceive stronger purpose in their association with your company, which can be a strong motivation for higher productivity and longer tenure. Purposeful employee engagement centered on customers’ well-being makes your company a well-oiled machine for syncing with customers. As they feel a hand-in-glove sensation when they deal with your company and its solutions, a magnetic attraction will develop. That’s a formula for industry leadership and sustainable growth.
3. To suppliers and alliance and channel partners to get them in-sync with your company in delivering superior customer experience?
You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Garbage-in, garbage-out. Educate suppliers, alliance partners, and channel partners about their contribution to your customers’ well-being. Adjust your policies and processes to help them help you. Streamline information transparency among those you rely upon to create and deliver solutions to your customers. Build shared vision, shared risks, and shared rewards, to unify all the moving parts that collectively create value for customers.This customer experience intelligence actionability will enable you to reduce costs of rework, scrap, returns, delays, and missed opportunities. Weak-link hurdles are so commonplace for customers that you’re sure to stand out with a differentiated customer experience when you smooth handoffs across your partners. As we increase reliance on partners to reach customers anywhere anytime, that’s a model for future success.
You’ll notice that these 3 applications of customer experience intelligence are behind the touchpoints. They’re about transforming your company, getting the company to do things for the customer, to transform customer experience. They’re about improving customer experience not only at touchpoints, but from the core of your organization, comprehensively. And in so doing, they’ve got staying power for good.
Get full mileage from customer experience intelligence by making it actionable in more ways by more stakeholders. Now that’s intelligence in action.
Lynn Hunsaker is CEO of ClearAction, a customer experience consultancy that grows businesses by helping them becoming preferred in their niche. ClearAction is architect of the CX ROI Maturity Assessment, CX ROI Building-Blocks System, and CX Enablement Playbooks for starting, expanding and energizing customer experience business results. ClearAction created the first online course covering the 6 competencies for customer experience success.
Lynn’s career in the customer experience field began in 1991 as chair of a 12-country, six-division taskforce designing customer satisfaction methodology at Sonoco Products. At Applied Materials she led company-wide customer experience transformation as Head of Corporate Quality.