2016. New Year's Resolution written in a notebookHave you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? If not, it’s never too late to stop buying those Starbucks croissants with a mere swipe of your phone and start hitting the gym instead. After all, as the old adage has it: If not now, when? The new year remains the most powerfully symbolic kick in the pants that most of us are going to get.

And as in life, so in work. If your company isn’t resolving to make important changes now, you can be sure your competitors are. The most successful will follow through on their good intentions, and they’ll likely be resolving to improve things at the level of today’s core business differentiator: customer experience.

Back in 2014, a Gartner study found that by 2016 fully 89% of companies expected to compete “primarily on the basis of the customer experience.”   Well, 2016 is here, and differentiating yourself on the basis of your CX isn’t as easy as it used to be, now that almost everyone else is trying to do the same.

So where should your business be concentrating its CX efforts in 2016? We asked seven experts to weigh in. Just like that new gym membership, sincerely following through on even one of these customer experience resolutions could yield dramatic results.

Question: What should be businesses’ top resolution for improving the customer experience in 2016?

kerry1.) Map the customer journey—with your customersCustomer journey mapping has become a standard practice for customer experience teams. But not many companies actually involve their customers in this activity. In 2016, hold a hands-on workshop where employees can hear directly from customers about their attitudes, goals, and biggest pain points. Then co-create a desired future-state journey map together.   This face-to-face journey mapping process will cut through employees’ assumptions and accelerate the path to making customer experience improvements.

Kerry Bodine, keynote speaker, customer experience coach, and coauthor of Outside In

 

stefan2.) Focus on your employees. The number one reason CX initiatives fail is internal communication. Team members don’t agree about definitions, fail to advocate for priorities, let things get political…the list is endless. There’s no easy answer, but these principles can help: First, make empathy part of the process. Simply asking the question of what’s important to a constituency lets you predict pitfalls and plan ahead. Second, take strategic vision out of the board room and bring it to the office with practical language and inspiring examples. If everyone has their eyes on the same prize, frictions get smaller and cooperation improves.


Stefan Tornquist, VP, Research for the Americas, Econsultancy

 

joe3.) Stop focusing so much on cost and start staging experiences that generate revenue. When most people use the term “customer experience” they generally refer to making interactions nice, easy, and convenient, which is good for costs, but does not truly engage customers. Instead, stage distinctive experiences that are memorable, personal, and actually get customers to spend more time with you. For the more time they spend with you, the more money they will spend. So think of experiences not as time well saved, but as time well spent.

B. Joseph Pine II, cofounder of Strategic Horizons and bestselling author of The Experience Economy

 

kevin4.) Resolve to make IVR customer experiences more pleasant—in any language. Many people don’t enjoy interacting with an automated voice system. There’s a built-in prejudice that’s based on past experiences. But if the application is well designed, and if the prerecorded voice that greets and guides users is clear, friendly, and professional, an IVR system can be a fast, easy, and private way to achieve a goal. In 2016, resolve to use high-quality, brand-consistent audio files that aim to overcome IVR’s negative stereotypes by offering a convenient and great-sounding customer experience, and making that experience accessible in multiple languages and dialects.

Kevin John, Account Manager, GM Voices

 

jeanne5.) Embed customer experience into how your company leads for growth. In 2016, it’s time to move past the “shiny object” syndrome of customer experience, and embed the behaviors and foundations of leading for customer-driven growth by:

  • Uniting your C-Suite in the one-company experience you are delivering
  • Establishing a customer-driven frame for decision-making
  • Killing the stupid rules that inhibit the frontline from delivering value
  • Building a cross-company skill for improving experiences—starting with customers’ lives.

 Jeanne Bliss, President of CustomerBliss, author of Chief Customer Officer, and cofounder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association

 

ryan6.) Resolve to understand what your customers actually experience. According to research by Gartner and Econsultancy, 69% of companies say they offer a superior online experience, while 51% of customers who left a company that “failed them” blamed their exits on a bad online experience. There is clearly a gap between what businesses think about their CX and what customers really experience. With IBM’s Customer Experience Analytics technology, we’re dedicating to helping our clients truly understand the customer experience they provide by enabling them to visualize the journey through the eyes of their customers. In 2016, do whatever it takes to understand yours.

Ryan McCartney, Portfolio Marketing Manager, IBM Customer Experience Analytics

 

tom7.) In 2016, embrace the power of omnichannel engagement. Enterprise contact centers have been striving to keep up with the growing complexity of cross-channel communications, but using CRM to manage customer journeys just isn’t enough anymore. However, new omnichannel engagement platforms are empowering businesses with detailed, 360-degree views of the customer journey that provide valuable context from every channel, at each and every touchpoint. By gaining insights into your customers in real time, where and when the right response can make or break a relationship, you’ll be transforming your contact center into a sophisticated, digitally driven operation that not only drives revenue but also genuinely puts the customer experience first.

 —Tom Eggemeier, President, Genesys

Start the year off right by transforming your customer experiences! Contact Genesys for a demo today.