Wynand_Smit_2017All employees must understand what customer experience is, and their role in delivering it, says Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO.

Customer experience, or CX, is an essential ingredient to any successful business – 97% of companies polled by Forrester* believe and say they discuss the importance of CX with employees – yet this relatively new consideration finds a space in different departments, according to different companies.

For some, it’s viewed as part of the marketing strategy; for others, it’s left to operations or the IT department to address. Still others believe senior executives must take on the CX responsibility. Some companies forget to link CX to the very place it’s most important – the customer service department, says Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO, a leading contact centre business solutions provider.

The most effective companies practising CX state it must live and breathe across the organisation, and that all employees must understand what it is and their role in delivering it. It’s not merely a result; it must be part vision, part culture of the company to achieve its goals.

To take a step back from that, it’s important to state that incorporating CX as a goal does not translate to immediate success; it can take many months to establish the vision, goals and culture that lead to improved CX. A summary of this journey would be: shared vision that creates, reinforces and shares the CX intention, then the rolling out of job-specific behaviours that translate the vision into specific activities that employees understand will lead to enhanced CX. Following that, performance must be evaluated to ensure consistent customer-centric behaviour is taking place, and then, finally, actual customer experience and employee outcomes must also be tracked, using measurements such as customer and employee retention, for example. Business results linked to CX are the proof that the programme is working.

It’s difficult to isolate CX projects, even if run by CX teams, since their impact is company-wide. Successful CX projects could be claimed by various departments because of their own efforts having the most direct impact. Ultimately, the consideration should be the business results that come from delivering better CX, but also through having a common vision being worked out business-wide among all employees.

To return to the initial challenge, CX is not the province of a small CX team, or any other department; it must be aligned to all customer-driven processes across the company. It may be harder to monitor the success of CX initiatives compared with other projects, but CX culture must be threaded through the entire tapestry that makes up your company.

In the contact centre environment, business-to-customer interactions are direct, allowing for hands-on monitoring of the effectiveness of agents and processes, as well as customer responses via feedback. This is the “face” of the company, and it’s essential that agents be provided with all the information and training they require to be able to assist customers.

A less direct way of improving CX in a contact centre environment could also include integrating various systems to streamline processes, or even introducing additional technology to drive efficiency and reduce overall customer frustration. Either way, the path to improved CX is a windy and challenging one that is unique to every company and often lies beyond some of the most obvious solutions.

Some quick checks to ensure that CX is gaining the attention it deserves include: adding customer-centric behaviour to employees’ performance evaluations, surveying employees to ensure they’re applying customer-centric behaviour, analysing customer data to see if customers have noticed new behaviour, and creating CX-specific training programmes (and checking to see that employees have undertaken this training).

The answer, then, is that CX is owned by your entire company (although your contact centre is certainly a good place to start). This culture is owned by every individual as part of their day-to-day activities, and if executed correctly, the vision will become a reality to the people who matter most – your customers.

This article was first published by IT Web on 9 May 2017.