Customer Experience Management - A Practitioner's View

Abhishek Mathur, Sr. Vice President and Head Customer Service, ICICI Securities Ltd

Managing customer service and ex­perience, figura­tively treads close to solving ‘world hunger problem’ or ‘global warming problem’. It is vast, ever evolving and finally deals with the complexity of satisfying the human mind.

Customer experience management is clearly an ongoing journey but not without milestones. And here are some of the milestones that are worth putting a tick on.

1. Building Transaction Efficiency: The bedrock to providing a great cus­tomer experience is the ability of an organization to give a consistent and controlled transaction experience on core processes. This is a basic require­ment, something the customer ex­pects. The key component to a great experience is reliability. Whether, it is requesting for a cheque book or ac­cessing a website, being able to put through a transaction smoothly is most critical. A reliable experience needs to be backed by well defined inputs, outputs and processes. This also means well controlled timelines with an ability to keep the customer informed from the start of the trans­action till the end.

Almost all businesses rely on technology to make their core processes reliable and efficient. Transaction efficiency has also become a core expectation and a hygiene factor. In addition, confirmation through an email alert or SMS or notification closes the transaction in the mind of the customer. An efficient transaction reduces the cost and anxiety for the customer. An omni-channel experience with the same underlying efficiency can further augment the experience.

2. Preparing for Exceptional Processing: If you have called for an unusual complaint, got your credit card in an emergency or returned a product, you have lived an exceptional process. Do not get confused with a standard request or a complaint. Exceptional processes are the ones where a standard process doesn’t exit. These are also processes where organizations are tested the most and perceptions are built. As exceptional process is the one that is there when the customer needs it the most and least expects it.

It is important for organizations to continuously identify these moments of truth and make them as a part of core processes. At the same time, one must note that exceptional processes are self evolving and some of them genuinely don’t have a standard solution. In all, it is a higher order challenge.

Organizations need to be extremely well networked to handle exceptional processing. The key to managing these situations is gauged by how fast the exception reaches the empowered. This requires technology that supports ability to quickly communicate and take decisions. It also has a component of storing information and intelligence and making them available.

3. Recognizing Clients Proactive­ly: When was the last you felt that a brand you interacted with really knew you? Getting just the information you needed on your account portal while purchasing an investment product, or your relationship manager calling you just when you were planning to con­tact him or an ecommerce site which helped you make up your mind on which brand to buy. These are few examples of a higher order of engage­ment that builds emotional connect with a brand.

The root to building relationship with customers is in an organization’s ability to acknowledge and recognize needs of customers proactively. This is further strengthened if we are able to assist and participate in the decision making of our customers. This is a complex subject, requires tons of information, needs intelligence on when to use, and is traditionally people dependent. It the most interesting component of customer service that is likely to give the maximum marginal returns to efforts to organizations.

The span of great customer service extends from core processes that provide basic service to intelligent processes that bonds customers emotionally. Across the components of customer service, technology is and can be the backbone to providing great customer experience.