CX Icons: Annette Franz

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be speaking to a variety of experts in the field and there is no better way to start than with Annette Franz, Founder and CEO, CX Journey Inc. and the undisputed queen of customer journey mapping – a CX Icon if there ever was one!

With over 25 years of experience in the field, Annette is regularly recognized by companies around the world as a top influencer in Customer Experience, one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter”, as well as being an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Annette was kind enough to give up some of her valuable time to the TruRating team recently, to give us her insights on the state of customer experience today.

Hi Annette – thanks so much for speaking to us today!

Thanks for interviewing me for your blog! I’m always happy to talk about customer experience and its importance to the business.

Why is it important to focus on customer experience and what are the benefits of doing so?

Let me first take a step back and define customer experience and explain why it’s so important for companies to focus on the customer.

In its simplest definition, customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship and, importantly, the customer’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand during the course of those interactions.

The purpose of a business is to create and to nurture a customer. When companies focus on the customer and her experience rather than on maximizing shareholder value, magical things happen. The return on investment (ROI) is great, for all constituents.

Customer experience consultancy Watermark Consulting has been tracking the ROI of customer experience vis a vis the S&P 500 for the years, and their findings every year had been strong and compelling. They take a look at the top 10 publicly-traded Customer Experience Leaders and the bottom 10 publicly-traded Customer Experience Laggards from Forrester Research’s Customer Experience Index research and compare their performance on the S&P 500.

  • Leaders outperform the market with a return that’s 35 points higher than the S&P 500.
  • Laggards trailed, with a return that’s 45 points lower than that of the broader market.

Why customer experience? Well, as Sam Walton said, there’s only one boss, and it’s the customer. She pays your bills! In this world where products and services are becoming more and more commoditized every day, customer experience is really the one true differentiator. We know that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, so price can no longer be that differentiator.

There are benefits and desirable outcomes for the business and for the customer. When businesses focus on the customer experience, they see…

  • A reduction in churn and increase in customer retention
  • Stronger customer relationships
  • A reduction in sales cycles
  • Process improvements, efficiencies
  • Innovation: innovative products and experience
  • Culture changes that support a customer-centric culture and beyond
  • Greater shareholder returns

Customers benefit by…

  • Receiving the value they expect (or more)
  • Being the beneficiaries of innovation
  • Having a better experience
  • Achieving the jobs they’re trying to do
  • And doing so with less effort
  • Experiencing less frustration
  • Feeling like the business cares about them

Who should own customer experience in an organization?

I know people like to say that everyone owns customer experience, but that’s not really true. Yes, everyone must be engaged and rowing in the same direction and working toward delivering a consistent experience across the board. Employees must be bought in, committed, and doing the work to deliver the experience customers desire. I don’t dispute that. But if I’m going to be pedantic and talk about ownership, ultimately, it’s the CEO.

I think what most people mean when they ask this question is really: Who champions the customer experience in an organization? Who herds the cats and evangelizes for the cause? Who is the head change agent, guiding and coercing executives and employees through their resistance to change? (I made that sound pretty attractive, didn’t I?!) That person typically holds the title of Chief Customer Officer or VP of Customer Experience or some variation of that. The individual may also be (or have been) the CMO, CIO, COO, or even CRO and, potentially, has no previous knowledge of how to develop a customer experience strategy.

Ultimately, this “ownership” or “championship” should reside with an individual who reports directly to the CEO. Oh, and one more thing. This individual will need to partner with the head of HR. Employee experience and customer experience go hand in hand. These two individuals must become solid partners in this journey.

What does the future of #CX look like?

It’s really difficult to answer this question when so many companies are still struggling with what customer experience is and what it looks like today. But here are my thoughts on what the future looks like, given the well-informed and connected customer, advances in technology, and the massive amounts of data that companies collect about their customers: the experience needs to be personalized, simplified, relevant, and consistent.

How can a tool like TruRating help companies to improve their CX?

I’ve been talking a lot lately about putting the “customer” into customer experience. There are three ways to do that: (1) through listening (e.g., via surveys or other listening posts), (2) characterizing (e.g., creating customer design personas), and (3) empathizing (e.g., walking in customers’ shoes via journey mapping).  Of course, once you’ve learned make sure to do something with the insights.

Any improvements must be grounded in data, insights, and customer understanding.

Feedback platforms like TruRating offer companies a tool to listen, glean actionable insights, and identify what needs to be improved (or what they need to keep doing) to deliver a great experience.

What’s your message to companies that are falling behind? 

It’s all about the customer. It’s why you’re in business. Because of customers. Without them, you have no business. If you want to differentiate your business, focus on the experience you deliver for your customers.

Get started. Today. It’s not too late to understand your customers and the experience they’re having – and then design a better experience.

And finally, you need to focus on employees and their experience. They’re the ones who deliver the experience. If they’re not having a great experience, neither will your customers. Start here.

___

To hear more from Annette and to learn about her work head to the CX Journey website or check out her recent contributions for Forbes here.  And make sure to follow Annette on Twitter for a daily dose of CX expertise.

Fore more from TruRating, check our previous posts in the customer experience series:

 

 

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