Nine Easy Steps for a Quick Customer Experience Tune-up


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Customer experience (CE) is the new imperative. However, among the top concerns companies have regarding
CE are cost and delayed return on investment. The good news is that there are short-term actions you can take
now and see benefits in the near term.

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Nine Easy Steps for a Quick Customer Experience Tune-up

  1. 1. MARCH 20111BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES Nine Easy Steps for a Quick Customer Experience Tune-Up There is no need to wait for approval for a multiyear, million-dollar customer experience initiative. Start tomorrow with these quick and inexpensive ways to improve CE. An exclusive survey and research report from Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services
  2. 2. MARCH 2011 2 BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES Copyright and Disclaimer Notices Bloomberg Businessweek does not make any guarantees or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of this report. Bloomberg Businessweek shall not be liable to the user or anyone else for any inaccuracy, error or omission, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting therefrom. In no event will Bloomberg Businessweek nor other companies or third-party licensors be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages, including but not limited to lost time, lost money, lost profits or lost good will, whether in contract, tort, strict liability or otherwise, and whether or not such damages are foreseen or unforeseen with respect to any use of this document. This document, or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced, transmitted, introduced into a retrieval system or distributed without the written consent of Bloomberg L.P. © Copyright 2011 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. ELECTRONIC VERSION AVAILABLE To see or use an electronic copy of this document in PDF format, please visit the following Web sites: Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services Table of Contents Executive Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Methodology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Kill a Stupid Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Make a Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Monitor Online Sentiment—and Respond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Think “Community” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Source Passion Internally . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Venture Outside Your Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Conduct Transactional Surveys. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Leverage Analytics and Reporting Tools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Sponsor’s Statement: Harvest the Low-Hanging Customer Experience Fruit . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
  3. 3. MARCH 20113BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES Executive Summary Customer experience (CE) is the new imperative. However, among the top concerns companies have regarding CE are cost and delayed return on investment. The good news is that there are short-term actions you can take now and see benefits in the near term. Show, do not tell, your employees and executive sponsors the art of the possible with these quick CE wins: n Kill a stupid rule. Getting rid of one or more offending rules can quickly, cost-efficiently and immeasurably increase satisfaction. n Make a connection. Nothing creates an emotional bond like a personal connection. Training employees to interact with customers in a personal way adds to the customer experience. n Monitor online sentiment—and respond. Customers are talking on the Web, and you need to know what they are saying. Employ a platform, tool or service that enables you to monitor and analyze the reams of unstructured data on the Internet and in social media. n Think “community.” In many industries, online forums have sprung up around a particular company or product. Companies can strengthen their CE and gain quick insights by monitoring these forums and slowly entering the conversation. n Source passion internally. The best customer experience experts are within your own organization. There is no need to turn to an army of experts. n Venture outside your industry. Instead of benchmarking your performance against competitors, look outside your industry to CE success stories and immediately benefit from those insights. n Conduct transactional surveys. These surveys can help solicit individual complaints, thereby providing you with an opportunity to make amends. n Do not reinvent the wheel. When it comes to the Web, social media and mobile technologies, it is better to go where customers already are rather than create a new site for them to visit or a new interface for them to learn. n Leverage analytics and reporting tools. A quick way to gain a strong lead in CE is to use analytics and reporting tools against data you already have. Methodology Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services (BBRS) launched a survey and research program in late 2010 to discover and analyze the views of C-level and line-of-business executives on customer experience (CE). The research sought to determine these executives’ perceptions of the importance of creating competitive differentiation by providing powerful CE, thus growing the business. The research also sought to identify the importance of technology as a tool to maintain or even improve CE. The goals of this program included: n Determining the level of recognition of the importance of a positive customer experience. n Defining the elements of a positive customer experience that contributes to the financial well being of the company offering that experience. n Identifying the challenges of developing and maintaining a positive customer experience for the long term while increasing profits. n Understanding the technological foundation for a positive and profitable customer experience. n Determining the impact of new technologies on the customer experience, such as data analytics, social media and mobile computing.
  4. 4. MARCH 2011 4 BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES This research program included both quantitative and qualitative components: n A survey of director-level or above executives at large and midsize companies in North America who are members of the Bloomberg Businessweek Market Advisory Board, an online panel of 25,000 business executives. A total of 307 director-, vice president- and C-level executives responded to the December 2010 survey. For more information about the survey demographics, refer to the “Methodology” charts below. n In-depth telephone interviews with C-level and other senior executives at large and midsize companies. The companies involved include: n Arizona Cardinals Football Club n Disney Institute n Cardinal Health n The Lego Group n Colmobil Corp. n Marriott International Inc. n Comcast n Reliant Energy n Coop n Interviews with leading independent consultants, industry analysts and academics, in addition to survey data from research firms, to provide context and additional insights. The experts include individuals from the following firms: n Andy Main, Deloitte Consulting n Forrester Research n Fred Van Bennekom, Great Brook Consulting n Patricia Seybold, Patricia Seybold Group n Shaun Smith, Smith Co. n John Goodman, TARP Worldwide n Bruce Temkin, Temkin Group n A poll of 1,004 senior managers and directors from companies with at least $500 million in annual revenues. Two-thirds of those responding to the poll were at the vice president and executive levels.  Approximately 30 percent of the respondents were from the United States, 30 percent from Europe, 30 percent from Asia and 10 percent from the rest of the world. Triangle Publishing Services Co. Inc. supported BBRS in the development of the survey questionnaire, in addition to providing the in-depth telephone interviews and the writing, editing and production of this report. BBRS and the author of this report, Lauren Gibbons Paul, are grateful to all of the executives who provided their time and insights for this project. This research project was funded by a grant from SAP but was written independently of this sponsor. The editorial department of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine was not involved in this project. For more information about this project, please contact Samuel Gager of Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services at Methodology Respondents by Title Respondent Company Size by Revenue Respondents by Industry Source: Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services, 2010 Senior Vice President/Executive Vice President/ General Manager: 37% Director/ Vice President: 39%C-Level: 24% $1 billion- $4.9 billion: 29% $5 billion plus: 40% $200 million- $499.9 million: 17% $500 million- $999.9 million: 14% Healthcare/ Pharmaceuticals: 8% Nonprofits: 5% Business Services: 11% Financial Services: 18% Manufacturing Services: 28% Other: 25% Retail/ Wholesale: 5%
  5. 5. MARCH 20115BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES Introduction For companies throughout the world, in every industry, providing a strong “customer experience” is the new imperative (see Figure 1, “Customer Experience a Top Priority,” at right). Particularly in today’s economy, however, time and money are perpetually short. Although most companies are looking for profitable new areas of investment, senior executives also need to see rapid results. In fact, among the top concerns companies have regarding CE are cost and delayed ROI (see Figure 2, “Top Concerns: Cost, Resources, ROI,” on page 6). The bad news: Developing a powerful customer experience is far from a quick-hit program. Done well, these initiatives are transformational, up-ending corporate focus from product- centric to customer-centric. In fact, CE is not an end goal at all; rather, it is a moving target, thanks to constant technological improvements, changing customer behaviors and needs, and ever-improving insights culled from data analytics. In reality, once you undertake a CE initiative, it is more of a journey than a destination. But there is good news, too. There are short-term actions you can take now and see benefits in the near term. Although these quick hits move the customer satisfaction needle, they are not costly. In addition to providing customers with a better experience, they also can motivate employees, who will see the swift benefits, and satisfy executives, who need to see results. Here are nine “quick wins” you can score along the customer experience journey. 1. Kill a Stupid Rule Most large companies have at least one process they know of that hurts their customers (at least the people in the trenches know the rules that hurt the customers). Getting rid of one or more of these rules can quickly, cost-efficiently and immeasurably increase satisfaction. “Usually there is no strong sense of customer input when rules are created, so rules or decisions often veer away from being good for customers,” says Bruce Temkin, principal at CE research and consulting firm Temkin Group. “Stupid rules always exist.” The bigger the organization, the more stupid rules you can expect to see. Missouri’s Commerce Bank of St. Louis killed a number of stupid rules a few years ago. It started with something as simple as getting rid of the chains that prevent customers from accidentally taking home the pen after they fill out a deposit slip. Commerce, whose slogan is, “Ask. Listen. Solve,” has had the highest customer satisfaction in retail banking in the Midwest region for three years in a row, according to J.D. Power Associates. The bank has had a customer focus since its doors first opened in 1973. Commerce views itself as a retailer, as opposed to a financial services provider, and this orientation makes all the difference in how it engages with customers. The bank strives to create a fun atmosphere, complete with free lollipops and dog biscuits in its “stores.” And long before the advent of fee-based coin-counting machines, Commerce banks had free “penny arcade” coin counters that offer a reward for correctly guessing how much change you insert. Another mold-breaker is Progressive Insurance, which has changed the traditional rules of the insurance industry with the customer in mind. One of its offerings is a “concierge” service that allows customers who have had an accident to drop off their cars at a designated location and let Progressive handle the repairs. According to Shaun Smith, president of CE consultancy Smith+co., Progressive also targeted what it considered one of Customer Experience a Top Priority In a recent survey, 81 percent of respondents said their corporate executives expressed a high level of interest in improving CE in 2011. Extremely high level of interest (one of top three priorities in 2011) High interest (one of top five priorities in 2011) Moderate interest (one of top 10 priorities in 2011) No interest Do not know Base: 307 director-level and above executives at midsize and large companies. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services, 2010 Figure 1 48% 33% 15% 3% 1%
  6. 6. MARCH 2011 6 BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES its biggest sources of frustration for customers—its claims settlement area. The process was cumbersome and time- intensive, with customers having to fill out a complex form and then deal with follow-up questions. It was not a customer- friendly process for a person who had just endured an accident. Progressive revamped the process by creating “roadside settlements.” Now, customers can call a mobile claims assessor to come on site within minutes to get crucial details and, in some cases, submit the claim on the spot. Not only did this approach cut claims processing costs but customers feel taken care of, Smith says. Progressive has risen from number 10 in market share in the early 2000s to number four. 2. Make a Connection Nothing creates an emotional bond like a personal connection. This is true no matter which channel your customer uses. On the Web and in printed collateral, your tone should be welcoming, not off-putting; in direct customer and client interactions, sales staff should be knowledgeable and attentive without being pushy. “Get in the habit of asking yourself, ‘Would our target customers fully understand this?’” Temkin asks. An example is Sports Authority, which trains its employees to greet customers within 15 seconds and, if a customer seems open to it, to engage in a dialogue about the customer’s area of interest. “I walked into Sports Authority and got into a conversation with the sales guy about sand consistency on the golf course,” says Andy Main, principal, customer transformation, at accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Consulting. “He recommended a wedge based on the type of sand I am likely to encounter. This guy knew what he was talking about. He got the sale, because he treated me like a serious buyer.” John Goodman, founder of customer experience agency TARP Worldwide, provides other examples. Procter Gamble’s Iams brand of pet food, for instance, offers a toll-free number for customers to call a pet loss counselor when their beloved cat or dog dies. “They spend lots of time holding your hand over the phone,” Goodman says. “That can form lifetime Iams customers.” The human touch also is applicable in the business-to-business world, Goodman says. In his work with a chemical terminal company, he has advised terminal operators to strike up a conversation with truck drivers while waiting to load their tanks. In some cases, the same drivers would return a couple of times per week. “The drivers would likely provide feedback on the company to whomever they’re driving the chemical to,” Goodman says. “This is a heavy industrial environment, with guys in hard hats, but it’s still important to create an emotional connection.” Another very simple way to reinforce an emotional connection is to have employees who interact on social media sites use their real names. When hospitality giant Marriott International Inc. recently made some changes to its Rewards program, for instance, the senior vice president of its Marriott Rewards program, Ed French, responded to customer queries via video. Afterward, he noticed that participants on Marriott’s customer forums were referring to him by his first name, a sure sign of feeling connected. Top Concerns: Cost, Resources, ROI Respondents were asked to name the top concerns they have regarding their company’s efforts to improve customer experience (percent of respondents rating the concern at a 4 or 5 level). Cost and resource requirements Return on investment High degree of change of internal processes and underlying technologies The time it takes to show substantial improvement Disruption to ongoing operations while production systems are reworked Risk Unqualified people to achieve transformation Base: 307 director-level and above executives at midsize and large companies. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services, 2010 Figure 2 54% 51% 38% 26% 42% 31% 25%
  7. 7. MARCH 20117BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES Frank Eliason, senior vice president of social at Citi, recalls his days at Comcast, where he started up the company’s Twitter-based customer service. At first, he says, he was sensitive to having his team use their names to tweet with customers, although he used the Twitter identifier “@comcastfrank” himself. Following an experience he had on the job, Eliason changed his mind. After being available nearly every day and night on Twitter for seven days a week for four straight months, he told his followers he was taking a day off, as it was his daughter’s birthday. “They ended up researching me and found my family Web site, where they learned it was the anniversary of the death of another one of my daughters,” Eliason says. At the end of the emotional day, he says, he was going through his Twitter messages and saw that people had decided amongst themselves to “give Frank a break” and try to help each other with their service problems. “They did that for me, not Comcast,” Eliason says. “That’s one of the reasons I use my picture and my name—trust is developed by individuals.” According to a recent survey by CE research, strategy design and implementation firm Strativity Group, respondents said the behavior of employees goes far in creating a superior customer experience (see Figure 3, “All in the Attitude,” below). 3. Monitor Online Sentiment—and Respond Whether you know it or not, customers are talking about your company on the Web. And you need to know what they are saying. Employ a platform, tool or service that enables you to monitor and analyze the reams of unstructured data on the Internet and in social media. These systems—called sentiment analysis tools, social media analysis platforms and even “listening platforms”—mine online and social sources to deliver insights on how a company or brand is being perceived. At some point, you are going to need a system to harness all that data. Tasking people in the organization to gather these insights by hand can quickly become arduous, if not impossible. When you discover an unhappy customer—tweeting a less-than-stellar experience with your company, for example—help him or her as speedily as possible. This attention will go far toward staving off a groundswell of negative opinion. Southwest Airlines is a great example. On a Saturday evening in February 2010, award-winning film director Kevin Smith complained to his more one million followers on Twitter that he was ejected from a Southwest flight for being too fat. The airline, which also has over one million Twitter followers, responded within minutes and continued to tweet through the night, apologizing to Smith and keeping the Twitter community aware of each action it was taking. By Sunday, Southwest tweeted a link to its blog, where it explained the specifics of the occurrence. Although the incident went viral, by Monday, it had all but completely died down, a testament to the airline’s quick response. There are many examples of companies that have had to respond to unflattering videos, tweets and blog posts—some more successfully than others. And, unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to defuse such situations. (Think “United Breaks Guitars,” “Comcast Must Die” and “Dell Hell.”) The sooner a company reacts—in minutes, not hours—the better. Figure 3 All in the Attitude Respondents were asked to rate employee attitudes in terms of their importance in creating a superior customer experience. Ratings were based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “low importance” and 10 being “high importance” (percent of respondents rating the attribute a 9 or 10). Employees do their jobs with pride Employees are knowledgeable and empowered Employees use common sense and discretion in their work Employees deliver service with passion Base: 930 consumers from North America. Source: Strativity Group, 2009 48% 42% 44% 39%
  8. 8. MARCH 2011 8 BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES 4. Think “Community” In many industries, online community forums or groups have sprung up around a particular company or product. Companies are strengthening their customer experience by working with these community forums. A good example is The Lego Group, for which aficionados the world over maintain myriad Web sites—tributes to their devotion to the brand. When this happens, companies should not ignore these communities; instead, watch and listen. Understand the tenor of the group. Then foray cautiously into the community. Ask if you can help, especially if the group is providing useful peer-to-peer support that would otherwise fall to you. Be prepared to pull back if the group does not welcome corporate participation, which may be viewed as being overtly commercially motivated. If you are asked not to participate, you can still lurk and gather insights. In other cases, companies are starting up communities on their own sites. Although it does take time to form a community, some rewards—like quick insights—can be garnered right away. 5. Source Passion Internally Although customer experience initiatives likely result in business process transformation, this is not the time to seek the advice of an army of experts. Instead, mine the organization itself for customer champions rather than relying on outside experts. The best data and insights you need to carry out CE activities are right within your own organization. Many employees in all business functions will have input into the full range of CE activities, including mapping the customer journey, identifying key moments that make or break loyalty, pinpointing gaps between expectation and current performance, and even creating innovative processes to fill these gaps. To gather needed insights and develop the processes to follow through on them, it is advisable to choose a customer experience leader from within your organization and to formally designate this person to form and lead a centralized CE team. According to independent technology and market research Forrester Research, these teams can help enable cross-functional coordination, identify and share best practices, and support executives who need help understanding the role they play in CE. Ultimately, becoming customer-centric is something that needs to be baked into the DNA of all employees in the organization. It is not something that can be bolted on as “yet another corporate initiative” or accomplished by throwing money at it. “Good customer experience should just be the way you do business,” says Patricia Seybold, president and CEO of the Patricia Seybold Group. “You should not have to add a lot of stuff to do this. Over time, it should become the way you operate.” 6. Venture Outside Your Industry Call it benchmarking for customer experience. When Mike Bidwell, president of the Arizona Cardinals Football Club wanted to step up the experience offered to sports fans in the team’s new stadium, he and his executive team toured Disneyworld. “We toured their parks to get a better understanding of how they do things. The Disney customer experience is legendary,” Bidwell says. The team liked what they saw so much they engaged the Disney Institute to help teach them Disney best practices around leadership. Bidwell and other club executives saw a lot of value in importing hospitality techniques and principles from the worldwide entertainment leader, as sporting events are a form of entertainment. “Good customer experience should just be the way you do business. You should not have to add a lot of stuff to do this. Over time, it should become the way you operate.” —Patricia Seybold, Patricia Seybold Group
  9. 9. MARCH 20119BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES “We learned a lot from them,” Bidwell says. “It shouldn’t just be the people who interact with the fans on game day [who are trained in customer experience]. All of us represent the organization and the team, at all times.” To bring employees onboard with the concept, all Arizona Cardinals employees are now called “team members,” in much the same way that all Disney employees are called “cast members.” 7. Conduct Transactional Surveys Customer service surveys are everywhere you turn, it seems. But a better way to get more targeted feedback from customers is to survey them right when they have finished a transaction with you, according to Seybold. These are called transactional, or event, surveys. Here is how they work: When customers complete a transaction, they are invited to respond to a survey that asks about various aspects of the interaction. If the customer is on the Web, the question will pop up in a window following the transaction. If the transaction is face-to-face, the survey invitation could be on the receipt. For instance, Seybold says, a great time to ask customers for feedback is when they have just bought something from your Web site. This more specifically timed survey acts as a quality-control device, highlighting broken processes, moments of truth and “make or break” moments. Most customers who are satisfied with their transaction will not respond to the survey. What you will hear about is if the experience went the other way. If you have lots of responses, Seybold says, you will get decent, statistically valid results. These surveys need to be accompanied by a closed-loop process—that is, with the customer service organization—so if there is a problem, you can quickly get back to the customer and fix it, Seybold says. For optimum results, transactional surveys should be short (no more than 12 questions) and not demand too much of respondents’ time, says Fred Van Bennekom, principal at Great Brook Consulting, a customer support and survey consultancy. 8. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel On the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” theme, companies are realizing that when it comes to the Web, social media and mobile technologies, it is better to go where customers already are (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, among others) than it is to create a new site for them to visit or a new interface for them to learn. This lesson is particularly true when creating a community site or a mobile application. A good example is Coop, a grocer in Switzerland that is the country’s largest retailer. The company already offered an online grocery-shopping capability via its Web store. In 2010, however, it decided to add a new channel that was specifically tuned to two key demographic realities: Switzerland has one of the highest rates of per-capita iPhone use in the world, according to AdMob Inc., and Swiss citizens have limited shopping hours, with stores closing in the early evening on weekdays and all day on Sundays. Because Swiss citizens love their iPhones, Coop felt its customers would be drawn to the application, first by the “cool” factor, and then by the ease of use and convenience. After roughly one year, sales through the iPhone channel account for a fast- growing portion of Coop’s online orders. Reliant Energy is another example. One of the largest retail electricity providers in Texas, the company established a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr. Going even further, Reliant anchored these efforts on a centralized, comprehensive site that adds company-generated content and user-generated discussions on topics like energy innovation and energy-saving tips. This way, consumer discussions across multiple social networks are centralized on a single, searchable space. In practice, this means a user-submitted comment or article on Reliant’s Facebook page or Twitter feed becomes available to Reliant users on the empowerme site, as well.   “It shouldn’t just be the people who interact with the fans on game day [who are trained in customer experi- ence]. All of us represent the organization and the team, at all times.” —Mike Bidwell, Arizona Cardinals Football Club
  10. 10. MARCH 2011 10 BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES 9. Leverage Analytics and Reporting Tools Most companies have stockpiled a wealth of information in their customer relationship management (CRM) and other customer-related databases. A quick way to gain a strong lead in customer experience is to use analytics and reporting tools against that data. An analytics initiative can be done at reasonably low cost, in a matter of months, and have a real business impact. BestBuy, for example, made speedy use of analytics during the early days of the downturn.1 The retailer needed to understand why more customers were applying for financing on their purchases while the number of purchases over $1,000 was dropping. The company used an analytics tool to pinpoint the optimal level at which to offer financing—in this case, the magic number was $499. By deploying a rapid- results tool, BestBuy was able to glean insight that it put to use right away. Conclusion Customer experience initiatives are truly a journey, not a destination. Along the way, however, the more CE “wins” you can score for short money in a short amount of time, the more successful you will be. But these tactical moves need to align with and be a planned part of an overall CE strategy. It is wasteful for individual business functions to approach customer experience in a siloed way. Successful CE initiatives are synchronized, coordinated efforts that involve the entire organization. In fact, according to Forrester Research, the most successful companies assign an executive to lead their customer experience efforts. Companies with a CE leader are more ambitious in their CE goals, more disciplined in their approach and more active in their customer-focused initiatives, including voice of the customer programs (see Figure 4, “It Takes a Leader,” at left). Forrester also found that more than half of companies have a companywide program focused on improving CE, in addition to an executive in charge of the effort. The people in your organization need to see and believe in the benefits of customer experience before they are willing to change their thinking and behaviors in a big way. Working on these shorter term initiatives and seeing the results is a good way to do just that. n It Takes a Leader Across 12 customer experience competencies defined by Forrester Research, companies with an executive in charge scored higher. Here are the six areas with the biggest gaps (percent of respondents). Base: 131 North American companies with annual revenues of $500 million or more (69 companies with a CE executive and 62 companies without a CE executive). Source: Forrester Research Figure 4 n Percent of Companies with a CE Executive n Percent of Companies Without a CE Executive Employees across the company share a consistent and vivid image of target customers Senior executives consistently communicate the importance of serving target customers Quality of interactions with target customers is closely monitored Brand attributes are translated into specific promises the company makes to customers Decision-making processes systematically incorporate the needs of target customers Employees are recognized and rewarded for improving the experience 33% 15% 61% 38% 21% 49% 37% 35% 35% 23% 24% 44% 1
  11. 11. MARCH 201111BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK RESEARCH SERVICES 11 SPONSOR’S STATEMENT Harvest the Low-Hanging Customer Experience Fruit SAP offers an unmatched depth and breadth of tools to help organizations quickly improve their customer experience. To better understand how companies can quickly improve their customers’ experience, Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services interviewed Dr. Volker Hildebrand, Vice President for CRM Solution Management at SAP. He leads the SAP team that develops and markets software designed to help organizations deliver a profitable and positive customer experience. Dr. Hildebrand is also a co-author of a new book on customer experience, to be published by McGraw-Hill in September 2011. An edited QA of that discussion follows. How can organizations rapidly improve customer experience? Organizations can achieve fast results by leveraging the transactional data that they most likely already have but rarely analyze. By doing this, they can obtain insights into customer needs and wants and turn these insights into action. SAP provides a variety of tools to do this, such as operational dashboards for front-line employees who need to access information in real time. With our dashboard, the call center operators, telesales teams and other customer-facing repre- sentatives will be better able to serve customers by making decisions in real time. Are there other ways SAP can quickly help organizations improve their customer experience? Transactional surveys are increasingly helpful. After a call center conversation, online chat, e-mail exchange or other interaction, a short, automated survey is sent using the same channel as the event. Our multichannel capabilities enable organizations to quickly determine if customers were pro- vided a superb experience. A second offering is real-time offer management. If a cus- tomer refuses an offer, the engine learns from the rejection for subsequent offers. Customers get a more personalized experience, because their supplier knows them better and doesn’t send them offers they’re not interested in. It only sends offers to customers who are likely to perceive their value. How can SAP help organizations better understand their customers’ actions and statements online? Our software helps organizations monitor their customers’ online sentiment, no matter which channel they use. The system integrates with Twitter and Facebook to monitor what is being said about the organi- zation, such as issues with products or services, and provide actionable information. In addition, existing or new loyalty programs can be linked to social media to foster community and strengthen the bond between the company and its customers. n Dr. Volker Hildebrand Vice President, SAP CRM Solution Management For More Information SAP’s Web site offers a wealth of information about how to use analytics and other CRM tools to improve customer experience and have a positive impact on your organization’s top and bottom lines. Go to for more information.