Small things make a BIG difference to CX engagement

Emotional engagement, customer experiences and journeys that feel good pay huge dividends. Here are examples of how to do it easily and at low cost.

Small changes can make a BIG difference to customer experience
Small changes can make a BIG difference to customer experience
Extract from ‘CX – Practical lessons from the front line’ presented by Martin Wright to Marketing Network, Bristol, February 2017.

In this article we share examples from EasyJet, Thomson, Heathrow plus from a Social Housing provider, healthcare insurer and a breakdown provider.

Increased loyalty, lower cost to serve, higher recommendation and the ability to charge higher prices are all proven benefits of improved Customer Journeys1. The question is how to improve customer experiences?  Making it easy for your customers is without doubt a vital component, indeed our research shows that customers who give a brand 8 out of 10 for effort are about 10% more likely to buy again than those who give it a score of 7.  Effort is a basic requirement, a hygiene factor; but it’s not the whole story.

It is creating emotional engagement not reducing effort that has the greatest impact on how customers’ rate their experiences; how the customer journey interactions made them feel.

Emotions Vs Effort in Customer Experience
Emotions can be more important than effort for many types of interaction

So when customers rate a hospital treatment the way staff made them feel good accounts for just over 50% of their score whilst the outcome of the treatment (how quickly they got better) comes a poor second at 20%.

The great news is that it can often be the small and low cost things that make a BIG impact to the way customers feel and it certainly isn’t about delighting them.

How striving to delight customers can actually reduce profitability.

Our work with one Client showed that whilst improving customer effort and satisfaction from 7 to 8 had a big impact on repeat purchase and lifetime value, improving scores even higher to 9 or 10 out of 10 had no additional impact on purchase behaviour.  However consistently delighting customers, getting these very highest scores, requires significantly greater effort and cost on behalf of the company and its people.  The trick for that Client at least was to make the experience consistently good rather than consistently great; in other words to eliminate error.

What makes a customer experience (CX) feel good?

In the example with hospital treatment above customers’ emotional engagement was associated with small touches, things like attentive staff, dealing with delays and questions well, and being consistent. Not expensive gestures, but low cost behaviours, that with the right culture can be easy for staff to do consistently.  For a Social Housing Client keeping customers informed about the progress of a repair had a bigger impact on how they felt about the experience than speeding up the repair process.

Another example comes from the on-board experiences with EasyJet and Thomson.  Both charge for food and drink however they do it in subtly different ways:

Thomson put the customer’s priority before their own

Thomson, unlike EasyJet, give you your food first and ask you to pay much later.   They put the customer’s needs first making them feel very differently about the how much the airline trusts and values them.

Or, as the CEO of Heathrow said:

“If I could just get all the staff to look customers in the eye and to be cheery we would transform the customer experience.”

Almost every Client we work with has instances where they, unthinkingly put their own needs first, unwittingly sending the wrong messages.  A Healthcare Insurer whose very first words to a customer making a claim because as a result of a cancer diagnosis was, ‘what is your policy number and postcode’ or a breakdown provider where staff must first take customers’ credit card details in case an excess needs to be paid before they can go on to book an engineer and reassure anxious customers that help is at hand.

Listen to the interactions of your staff or review your web processes and see where your process puts your needs before those of your customers.

Emotions cut both ways

A Client recently asked the team here at CJC what was the single most important thing they needed to do to actually change their customer’s experiences.  Like all companies they were finding it difficult to create cross-functional alignment and to get the organisation to put customer needs above internal priorities.  Our answer was:

‘Create an emotional link between your staff and your customers’ end-to-end experiences’.

Here are five of the tools we have used to help create that connection:

  • Get senior managers to personally deal with one complaint each month that  involves their area
  • Film customers talking about their experiences when things go wrong and right
  • Document a single customer’s end-to-end customer experience
  • Get as many staff as possible to observe focus groups or attend 1-2-1- interviews
  • Invite customers into your offices and ask them about their experiences of dealing with you

This article is based on a talk Martin Wright recently gave to the Marketing Network titled ‘CX- Practical lessons from the front line.’  If you your team are interested in hearing this presentation in your offices just contact us.

1. Service experience accounts for 55% of loyalty, product and brand 19% each, price 9% :// Brands that improve the customer journey see revenues increase by 10 to 15 percent and cost to serve reduce by 15 to 20 percent.  55% will recommend based on outstanding service, more than either product or price. 95% of people have taken action as a consequence of a bad experience – 79% told others. 86% of people will pay more for a better experience.