Sunday, January 2, 2011

Want to improve customer experience? Go under cover

In today's hyper competitive, connected world, it takes a lot more than a great product, a clever marketing plan, or an aggressive sales team for a company to become very successful. It's all about the end-to-end customer experience.

Here are two questions to ask your executive team:
1) Is customer experience important to our company's success? (hope they all say 'yes')
2) What is it like to be a customer of ours?

While most executives will be quick to agree that great customer experience is key to success, few understand what it's really like to do business with their company.

The solution? Go under cover.

Pretend you are prospect: Fill a Contact Us form. Download a product. Call the main office number and ask for help. Challenge the sales rep. Buy a product, if you can, and open a support ticket. Post a question in the company's forum. You get the drift.

I've done this exercise many times. It's typically been an eye-opener. Playing a prospect or a customer helps me understand first-hand what it is like to do business with... me. Combine the insight you get from going under cover with your customer surveys, focus groups and social media reports, and you'll have a good grasp of the true customer experience.

After all, it's not just about your dazzling website, or the call scripts you created for the sales team, or the knowledge base your support team uses. It's about the end-to-end customer experience. So go test it.