Customer Friction. Consumer Churn. Journey Mapping. Customer Persona. These terms are bandied about the Customer Experience (CX) universe rather liberally these days, and many of those who work in the consulting space make a meal of overcomplicating these concepts rather than demystifying the process.
I am here to break down these ideas and show how they are applicable to almost any industry and can lead to true growth in your business – that isn’t to say that working with an expert wouldn’t drive even more success more quickly, but we don’t need to be so opaque about it all.
This is what we do here at 4xi; help organizations adopt principles that lead to growth and success now and into the future.
"It is about understanding your customers in a way that makes it very difficult for them to pull the trigger on a new company or product."
This classic acquisition and retention strategy is all about removing obstacles to buying, as customers will take the path of least resistance at any given fork in the road. You want to be the easier choice every single time.
There are 4 actionable ways you can take action to simplify your customer experience:
Understand Your Customers Do you understand your customers? Probably not, and that’s okay – we all have to start somewhere.
Start by ensuring you have a customer feedback mechanism. So many businesses are focused on Google Reviews and Facebook Recommendations that often, the satisfaction survey is left behind. Make sure you keep them simple and to the point and that you take action on what you learn.
To truly understand customers, you must look at things from their point of view. This is what you may hear called “customer journey mapping.” This is a useful practice that allows you to categorize your customers in “persona,” which means who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, and how they interact with your brand.
Once you know WHO your customers are, then you can look at HOW they work with your brand through the awareness, buying, and post-sale processes. The real trick here is to look at things from their perspective, not from yours as a business.
Both of these practices are informative and will equip your business to identify potential friction points and then take action to ensure that they don’t cost you business.
Inspire Daily Service Behaviors
Most often, it is the small things that define customer loyalty – rarely is it the grand gesture or epic fail that makes the difference, but of course, those can win and lose you business on any given day.
"The tiny elements, when executed consistently, create a feeling of trust and ease that make customers come back again and again."
It is the daily service behaviors that create this consistency and build memories - and that is because it gives your team the guidance they need to be successful. You can tell your team all day long to create world-class experiences, but that often is so ethereal that it doesn’t show them how they can support that vision.
On the other hand, you can inspire and coach them to smile, acknowledge guests quickly, walk them to their destination, and say thank you. You can empower them to solve problems and look for creative solutions – and you can reward and celebrate them when they get it right.
There are 3 keys to ensuring success with employee behaviors – inspire them rather than demand that they act upon them, reward success, and model those same behaviors as a leader.
Reduce overall Customer Effort
Customer Effort Score (CES) has become a key measure of loyalty, especially in places like contact centers and online ordering, where first-call resolution and user experience are indicators of success.
But it goes beyond the metrics. It is about the relationships you foster with your customers and clients and how easy you can make it for them. Difficult, arduous, or even downright silly processes can derail an interaction in a heartbeat.
I am reminded of the last time I picked up a rental car at an actual counter. Normally I favor the handy app that allows me to skip the line after a long flight and head right to my car. Recently because of a lack of cars, I had to visit the little kiosk in the parking garage, and I was reminded why I never do that. Not only is it painfully slow, they ask for the information they already have on file, and their systems run at a snail’s pace.
The goal here is to take all the great information you glean from your customer journey mapping and then use that to remove friction from the customer experience. That also means looking at your team experience and processes to be sure that they have technology that works, policies that make sense, and the support they need to deliver on your customer promise.
Build a People-Focused Environment
Rather than being so focused on the idea of culture, think about the overall environment you are providing rather than a strict set of rules or doctrines that you expect your team to conform to.
That is why so many are working to create a sense of belonging and community rather than hyper-focusing on the idea of “culture.” In fact, the word culture has become white noise out there in the lexicon of corporate buzzwords – and yes, I understand that culture eats strategy for breakfast.
"With all due respect to Peter Drucker, it has become as meaningless as me saying I had Frosted Flakes for breakfast. The philosophy is spot on, but it has lost its punch over time."
Nomenclature aside, putting people first is a key move that you must consider as you make things easier for your customers.
When you make your team feel included, welcomed, and valued within your organization, it will inspire them to make things easier for customers and give more discretionary effort to creating those world-class experiences you strive to deliver.
That means a couple of things – from a leadership perspective, you have ensured a quality flow of meaningful and relevant communication. It means that team development must be a priority – and not just to make them better at their current job, but to prepare them as a part of your human resources advancement strategy.
Finally, it means a place where employees feel appreciated and are known beyond their daily work – and where they feel they have a voice in decision-making and ideation.
All of this comes back – directly or indirectly – to make things easier for your customers and clients.
It becomes a question of daily vision and leadership into these tactics – embedding them in the overall DNA of your business to create the best possible environment for your employees and customers.
"Your customer experience will never be any easier than the experience you provide to your team each day."
And that is the ask – eliminate hassles, friction, and inconveniences wherever and whenever you can. That reduction in effort will create environments where the best talent wants to work and where customers come back again and again.
Check out 4xi's Evolving Experiences© and learn how we can help you and your business.
Tony Johnson is 4xi’s Chief Experience Officer and leader of the Evolving Experiences© practice. Before joining 4xi, he was the Customer Service Officer for Aramark, a global food and facilities organization. Tony is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), award-winning speaker, and globally recognized employee and customer experience expert.
Tony is the author of 3 books on leadership, employee engagement, and customer experience and hosts an industry-leading weekly podcast, Customer Service Academy.
4xi: Inspiring a brighter future, together.
4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, creating an impact on the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.
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