Customer experience expert, Annette Franz, shares her “7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience” and her best tips for a successful customer experience transformation journey.
Annette, please can you give us an overview of your career to date?
I’ve been in this customer experience profession since long before it was referred to as “customer experience.” I started my career at J.D. Power and Associates in the early 1990s, when we talked about customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. I’ve spent most of the last 25 years on the vendor/consulting side of the CX profession, but I’ve had two stints in the practitioner world, at Mattel and, more recently, at Fidelity Investments. I currently own my boutique customer experience consulting firm, CX Journey Inc.
What particularly excites you about customer experience as an industry?
The profession is a key one to any organization. It is our job as CX professionals to make sure that companies understand that they are in business for and because of the customer. Being involved in teaching and transforming are two aspects of this profession that excite me.
Do you have some top tips you could share for implementing a successful customer journey?
I refer to them as the “7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience”. If your customer experience journey is grounded in these seven tenets, you’re well on your way to a successful transformation. (And if they’re not, we gather, you’re a sinner!)
- Make sure you have executive commitment for, and alignment around, the journey
- Establish a CX vision
- Outline the customer experience that your customers desire
- Establish a governance structure
- Listen to customers, and act on what you hear
- Focus on the employee experience first; employees are the ones who must deliver that great customer experience
- And take an outside-in perspective; give customers a seat at the table, in every decision you make
In your view, what are the key differences between customer service and customer experience? Is one often mistaken for the other?
They are more often than not two phrases that are used interchangeably, but they are not interchangeable.
Customer experience is (a) the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship lifecycle and (b) the customer’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand over the course of those interactions.
Customer service is just one of those interactions or a type of interaction. It is just one touchpoint along the customer’s journey with your organization. As Chris Zane says: “Customer service is what happens when the customer experience breaks down”. I love that definition and way of distinguishing the two.
Do you believe that improving employee engagement is primarily about improving customer journey success or are there other factors involved here?
First and foremost, improving employee engagement is about the employee. It’s important that, initially, we look at employees and their experience in the context of the employees themselves.
Beyond that, it’s about outcomes. Engaged employees are more productive, stay longer, and want to see the business succeed – and they provide feedback and put forth the effort to make sure that happens. They drive customer happiness and loyalty, and ultimately, they drive the customer experience
There’s this concept called the spillover effect, which is described as the tendency of one person’s emotions to affect how other people around him feel. Ensure that your employees are engaged and happy so that they can deliver the experience that you expect them to and, in turn, yield happy and engaged customers.
Given CX has become such a fast moving and changing environment, can you outline some key CX trends you predict for the future — both in the short and long term?
It’s hard to talk about customer experience trends when there are still so many companies who need to get the basics right. For example, while companies might be listening to their customers, they aren’t necessarily acting on the feedback. That’s pointless. Or they’re so focused on the metric that they overlook what customers are actually saying. I prefer to talk about the here and now – and what companies should be doing today to catch up or to stay ahead.
How can companies stay ahead of such a fast paced and changing environment?
Listen to customers; understand their needs and jobs to be done. Listen to the market; look for emerging trends and potential disruptors (competitors).
Will companies with smaller budgets be at a disadvantage here?
No, companies with smaller budgets are not at a disadvantage. There are plenty of listening approaches that cost very little (or no) money.
Do most companies see the value in customer experience or are there still a number that don’t invest enough time or money in this area?
The customer’s perception is your reality. Sadly, there are still plenty of companies out there who don’t get that. The crazy thing is, isn’t it all customer experience? Isn’t that why companies are in business? For the customer?
Anything else you would like to share with our audience?
There are two key things to remember as you’re beginning or moving along your customer experience transformation journey:
- Without employees, you have no customer experience. Focus on the employee experience first.
- You must create a culture that is customer-focused and customer-centric, supported by values that ensure employees know what is expected of them.
About Annette Franz
Annette Franz is CEO of CX Journey Inc, a boutique consulting firm specializing in helping clients ground and frame their customer experience strategies in/via customer understanding. Her passion lies in teaching companies about customer experience and helping them understand the importance of the employee experience to a great customer experience. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert, CX Mentor, and a SoCal Local Networking Team Lead; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors.