Hi Teresa, tell us about yourself, your background?
I am the owner of Common Sense Solutions, a training and consulting firm focused on building profits and performance through enhanced customer service. I am author of Common Sense Service, Close Encounters on the Front Lines and am co-author of The Service Path: Your Roadmap for Building Strong Customer Loyalty. I have presented customer service keynotes and training across the U.S. and abroad for over 25 years. I have been included on the GlobalGurus.org list of the world’s top service experts for 6 consecutive years, with 2 years at #1. (Currently ranked #4) My business was awarded the Customer Service Training Practice of the Year Award by the International Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service. Teresa can be contacted through her website: www.AllenSpeaks.com
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Customer reviews are pivotal to success in 2021. It is no longer enough to market what you think is best about your brand. Your customers define that through their reviews of the experience with you and your team. As such it is critical for organizations large and small to monitor social channels to get customer feedback and make timely responses as well as adjustments to policies and procedures based on customer feedback. This has been especially important as business practices and customer interactions have altered post-COVID19. Participation in and monitoring of social channels can be daunting for smaller organizations due to limited skills in this area. Such organizations should look within to their younger employees who are well versed in operation of social channels to stay on top of this critical area.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
In working on a CXM strategy, one must always ask “Does this strategy appear to have common sense from the customer perspective?” Too often, service procedures and practices are established based on the ease of delivery instead of the ease of the interaction by the customer. The rise in importance of the Customer Effort Score (CES) is evidence of the importance of examining every step on the customer journey from a CES perspective.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Coming out of 2020 we have customers who have completely different desires on how and when to interact. These differences are based on geographics, demographics and the type of business. Thus, the customer must be given a choice of channel for interactions as well as choices within channels in order to satisfy them. For example, a customer may prefer telephone to online chat and within that may prefer a call back instead of being placed on hold as the service representative searches for solutions.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
You cannot have silos operating outside of a CX framework that is a key strategy of the organization. Also, CX needs to have a seat at the executive table so that every high level decision keeps the customer at the forefront.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
The Guaranteed Customer Experience by Jeff Toister. Jeff always has a common sense, down-to-earth advice on developing a better customer experience model and avoiding service failures.
Teresa’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
I would predict that digital and telephone service channels will continue to rise in popularity with consumers. This is obviously a result of consumer ‘retraining’ during lockdowns due to having to use electronic/telephone communication as opposed to in person interactions. As such, organizations large and small must train and retrain and hire with an eye to CX skills for positions in these channels.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
For the reasons stated above, my favorite metric is CES.