Implications of CX Consistency for Researchers – Part 1 – Inter-Channel Consistency

Previously, we discussed the business case and implications for customer experience mangers for inter-channel consistency.

This post considers the implications of cross-channel consistency for customer experience researchers.  The first research implication of inter-channel consistency is to understand that researchers must investigate service delivery consistency at its cause.

The range of choices available to customers here in the 21-st century is incredible.  Gone are the Henry Ford days when you, as he put it, “could have any color you want as long as it’s black.”  Modern customers have an array of choices available to them not only in the brands but in delivery channels.   Modern brands must serve channels in the channel of the customer’s choice, be it on-line, mobile, contact center, or in-person.   As customer choice expands cross-channel consistency has become more and more important.

The problem for customer experience researchers is that this channel expansion requires a broad tool box of research techniques, as different channels require unique systems and processes appropriate to the channel.  Systems and processes for on-line channels are different than those for in-person channels.  These different systems and processes often lead to the siloing of channels, which may help make individual channels more efficient, but run the risk in inconsistencies in the customer experience from one channel to the other.

Customers, however, don’t look at a brand as a collection of siloed channels.  Customers do not care about organizational charts.  They expect a consistent customer experience regardless of channels.  Customers expect cross-channel consistency.

If senior management has defined the customer experience organization-wide, the researcher’s role in coordinating research tools is much easier.  If management has not defined the customer experience organization-wide, the researcher’s role is nearly impossible.

The first step in defining the customer experience organization-wide is writing a clear customer experience mission statement which clearly communicates how customers should experience the brand, and how management wants customers to feel as a result of the experience.  Next, the customer experience should be defined in terms of broad dimensions and specific attributes which constitute the desired customer experience and emotional reaction to the brand.

For illustration, let’s consider the following example:

A bank may define their customer experience with four broad dimensions, which can be described as:

  1. Relationship Building
  2. Sales Process
  3. Product Knowledge
  4. Customer Knowledge

Next, the customer experience leadership of this bank must define each of these broad dimensions in terms of specific attributes which combine to make up the dimensions.  For example, each of the above four dimensions may be defined by the following attributes:

Dimension Attributes
Relationship Building Establish trust

Commitment to customer needs

Perceived as trusted advisor

Sales Process Referral to appropriate partner
Product Knowledge Understanding of a range of products

Understand features and benefits

Explain benefits in ways that are meaningful to customers

Customer Knowledge Needs analysis

Once each of the above dimensions has been defined in terms of specific attributes, the next step in translating the customer experience definition to action is to define a set of empirical behaviors which support each attribute.

For example, establishing trust is an attribute of relationship building.

Relationship Building –> Establish Trust

Under this example, a set of behaviors is defined which are designed to establish trust.  For example, these behaviors may be:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Speak clearly
  • Maintain smile
  • Thank for business
  • Ask “What else may we assist you with today?”
  • Encourage future business

Now, each of these six behaviors is mapped across each channel.  So, for example, this bank may map these behaviors across channels as follows:

Behaviors Which Support Establishing Trust:

New Accounts Teller Contact Center
Maintain eye contact Maintain eye contact
Speak clearly Speak clearly Speak clearly
Maintain smile Maintain smile Sound as if they were smiling through the phone
Thank for business Thank for business Thank for business
Ask “What else may we assist you with today?” Ask “What else may we assist you with today?” Ask “What else they could do to assist you today?”
Encourage future business Encourage future business Encourage future business

Repeating this process of mapping behaviors to each of the attributes will produce a complete list of employee behaviors appropriate to each channel in support of management’s broader customer experience objectives.

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

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