Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post written by Romi Mahajan and Steven Salta
The business world is awash in talks about Customer Experience. Many organizations at this point have created “Customer Experience” or “Customer Success” teams in an attempt to improve their relationship with their customers.
The idea behind this move is basic – happy customers who enjoy smooth and rewarding experiences with an organization remain loyal and may even advocate on behalf of the company. It is less costly to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Simple ideas are, however, not always simple to put in action.
If creating a winning customer experience was straightforward, then we’d be in an equal playing field in which there are no winners or losers but only mediocre players mimicking each other. If great customer experiences were so easy to come by, then we would find many more organizations create community and driving commerce.
Brands like Nordstrom, Amazon, and Ritz-Carlton continue to delight their customers because they take the hard route of thinking about, investing in, and following through on Customer Experience.
In our collective five decades of work in this area, we believe that amongst all the elements to creating a great Customer Experience, one is more important than the rest: Human agency.
Human agency is about focusing on these four areas:
- Investing in the right people to take care of customers
- Empowering these people with material resources and agility to delight at times and recover at other times
- Using technology to ease the ways in which these people can act and in which the customer can benefit
- Continuing to train, revise, and nourish the Customer Experience Commitment
Without human agency, no amount of investment in human resources or technology will get an organization to great in terms of the Customer Experience they confer.
Great customer experiences do not require human intervention in every case. Some elements can be enacted by technology seamlessly. Some elements can be enacted as a result of institutional policies.
The underlying principle is that the people who work with customers are empowered to act quickly in ways that bring satisfaction to customers.
In a world in which automation has become the watchword, it is important to remember that human beings play an essential role in organizations that want to have loyal customers in the long run.
Customer Experience is very much a human process aided by technology, not the other way around.
Romi Mahajan is a marketer, author, investor, and Board Member of Socedo.
Steven Salta is a technologist and entrepreneur.