What does success mean to you? Might be time to ask your customers

What does success mean to you? Likely something different than the person you’re sitting next to. But when the meaning varies so significantly, how can you design a customer experience that will help you achieve it? Here are three tips to design customer success: leverage the context to anticipate user needs, personalize the experience, and ensure consistency across channels.
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What does it mean to be successful? The dictionary defines it as “the correct or desired result of an attempt.” But despite the definition, you’d be hard-pressed to get a group of people to agree on the meaning of success. That is, in part, because the “desired result” can be different for each organization or vary by individual and by situation. In no industry is this more true than in customer experience. So how do you craft success in a customer experience situation when the objective is always in flux?

 

Going beyond task completion

A recent Temkin Group report on Experience Ratings sheds some light into the companies and industries at the top and bottom of the customer experience spectrum, looking at the specific component of “success.” Temkin describes success as task completion: was the customer able to complete what they set out to do?

If we look at which companies fared well and which did not, we can glean insights into how to design your customer experience to ensure success – and gain higher customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

 

Bridging the chasm: 3 tips for guaranteeing success

Those industries with the lowest scores included rental cars, cable providers and health plans. This is likely due to the use of convoluted processes, confusing information, siloed experiences, and challenging interactions. For example, renting a car is a complex process, and many times comes with agreements and disclaimers that are hard to understand. Health plans can be hard to sign up for with lengthy reimbursement processes. And working with your cable provider can look very different if you try to contact them online or via phone.

On the other end of the spectrum, supermarkets, fast food, banking, and retail are some of the highest scoring industries. This makes sense if you consider how much effort these industries put toward helping their customers accomplish what they want. If we look at what these customer experience leaders do differently than the laggards, we can see three key steps to creating innovative, intelligent self-service that help build customer satisfaction:

  • Leverage the context to anticipate user needs. Having to repeat the same information multiple times is one of the biggest pain points for consumers when interacting with companies. By building an intelligent experience, which leverages each interaction and its context within the broader customer relationship, we can quickly identify problems and proactively offer solutions. This helps customers resolve issues faster, avoiding misroutes and the frustrating need for information repetition. This anticipatory approach could include timely email reminders about an upcoming appointment, a text message update on a service outage with estimated recovery time, or outbound phone calls about a claim approval or package order.
  • Personalize the experience. You spend a lot of time and effort researching your target customers, so once you have them, don’t act like you don’t know them. Think about the last time someone greeted you by name – it probably felt good to know that you were important enough to be remembered. Personalized greetings help inspire customer satisfaction for the same reason. Customers like to feel valued and important to the companies they do business with. But personalization shouldn’t end at the second sentence of a customer interaction. You should be thinking about how to personalize the entire interaction, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, think about a payment process that can leverage your personal information, past online purchase history, current physical location, and your mobile app preferences to turn a traditional form-filling process into a simple, seamless confirmation across channels.
  • Keep the experience consistent. When it comes to customer loyalty, a key factor in that relationship is trust. When we deliver an experience that is truncated and disjointed, or worse, completely unexpected and inconsistent across touch points, customers question the reliability of those companies and are more likely to consider other alternatives. Customers don’t care about your organization’s internal structure, they just want to have a consistent experience. Individual channels can’t be viewed in isolation. Consumers now use all channels together – many users receive a notification via text message and then go to a website to see if they can find information, they then try live chat, and call in to an IVR as escalation when they can’t solve the problem themselves. Customers expect experiences that are consistent and reliable no matter what channel is used and connected to one-another so context can be understood.

A well-designed customer experience not only helps users, but can actually enable them to be better versions of themselves. By consciously taking into account customer success and creating strategies to support them, we can move beyond mere task completion and containment objectives and start looking at more valuable indicators such as customer engagement and customer loyalty. If you mimic the behaviors of leading companies while also learning from the misses of those lagging behind, you’ll be in the perfect position to create intuitive, personalized and consistent customer experience across all channels.

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How to consistently deliver great customer service

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Eduardo Olvera

About Eduardo Olvera

Eduardo Olvera is a Senior UI Manager & Global Discipline Leader at Nuance Communications. His work on many international English, Spanish and French voice user interfaces for such industry leading corporations as US Airways, Wells Fargo, Ford, Walgreens, Telefonica Movistar, Bank of America, Fidelity, US Bank, Geico, Vanguard, Samsung, Virgin, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Sempra, give him a deep understanding of the user and business challenges of mobile, multilingual and multimodal application design, development and implementation.