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To determine where we want to go, we often need to look back to where we started. The same is true of your customer communication strategies (“customer” may be defined as investors, members, patients, advisors or other stakeholders).
If you look back at the evolution of communications, we started with a single channel strategy with one channel and message and moved to multi-channel with siloed messages and experiences as illustrated below. The silos may have been transactional or marketing communications; they may have been by line of business; and they tended to be organized by distribution channel. As we evolved from multi-channel to cross-channel communications, that's where you deliver one consistent message, but it may arrive to customers or back to your organization in a siloed nature. The ultimate goal of many organizations is to get to omni-channel where you have one conversation that provides a seamless customer experience.
When it comes to communication strategies, I’m often asked by clients, “How do we compare to our peers?” and it’s not just about that. You need to ask, "How do I compare to the last best experience that my customer received?" Looking outside of your industry is really important. In fact, it supports the first step of improving the communications experience.
Step 1: Gathering perspective.
There are a variety of ways to gather perspective. In our consulting practice, we recommend that organizations start by asking their customers and employees what they do well, where they can improve and how they stack up against other organizations relative to the communication experience. This can be done via surveys, interviews and focus groups, and you can also look at the data that you are already collecting. For instance, what is the most common reason customers are contacting your call center?
After you gather that information, we recommend selecting a customer journey that you can map, review and test. You can start by picking a small journey (e.g., the customer onboarding process, making a bill payment or signing up for digital delivery) and using a simple process (e.g., white-board the experience or use a mapping tool). Lastly, we recommend conducting a customer experience workshop to take your information gathering and customer journey mapping efforts a step further. By bringing in a cross-functional internal team, you can test your assumptions, build on the journey and help identify other opportunities for improvement.
To help focus your discussion, you may want to consider our recent research. Since “a great customer experience” is a subjective topic, we asked consumers to compare the company that provides the best experience with the rest of their providers against the criteria illustrated below.
We found that what differentiated the best customer experience from the rest was that the organization communicates clearly and provides good customer service, followed by offering easy online account navigation and a consistent omni-channel experience. The verbatim responses included, "I like that the calls to action are bold, the color scheme is simple, and everything is really clear and easy to find… Fewest clicks as possible gets me where I want to go…" This continuum can help focus your improvement efforts. Essentially, make sure you are addressing the items on the right, but also look at how you can differentiate yourself by improving the areas on the left.
Ultimately, our annual CX and communications trends survey revealed a consistent customer view: clear, simple and personalized communications create better experiences.
To learn more about how to take the first step, watch our on-demand webinar, 3 Practical Steps to Better Customer Communication Experiences at your convenience.