“Customer experience (CX), customer loyalty… honestly Lesley I cannot keep track of the buzz phrases. Isn’t this just customer satisfaction presented with different language?” This was a question posed to me recently from the CEO of a growing government contracting firm who was genuinely convinced that the management consulting practitioners had created yet another “paradigm” to capture the essence of what we already know. Fair enough – there is no shortage of old ideas dressed up as new insights when it comes to business advice!
But sometimes the language really does matter. Listening to senior leaders from Oracle and Sprint at a recent CXPA* conference in Atlanta further underscored that conviction. Jeb Dasteel (Oracle’s Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer) shared fascinating analysis that demonstrated exactly how a strategic focus on the quality of the customer relationships has led to a significantly higher customer spend – 8 times higher to be precise. How did they do this? “Relentless focus” on customer and employee engagement, truly understanding what drives your customer’s loyalty and engaging directly with your customers were just a few of his keys to success. (Reach out if you would like to hear more about the “how” – it was a rich discussion.)
And if significant revenue increase is not sufficient justification for investing in strengthening customer experience and customer loyalty, listen to what Bob Johnson, the President of Sprint Retail, had to add. By focusing on customer experience (and in Sprint’s case – intense focus on first call issue resolution as opposed to “hold while I transfer you to my colleague), 74 call centers have become 40, operating expenses have been reduced 50%, and Sprint has saved roughly $1B annually since 2009. Using a motto of “serve, solve, satisfy”, Sprint is realizing enormous financial returns without even taking into account the reduced “churn” of customers and the positive impact that is having on their bottom line.
In our experience, the difference between satisfied and loyal customers can represent millions of dollars in revenue, reduced sales and marketing costs, and lower operational/customer service expenses. Understanding why is the simple part – stronger customer relationships results in more repeat business, new sales into existing customer accounts and last but never least – referrals to new customers. That is not a new insight for senior management and executive teams. Where it gets interesting is when you transfer that knowledge down into your organization and ask the teams who actually deal with the customers on a daily basis – “How do you provide value to our customers, and how can we strengthen those customer relationships?” Sprint and Oracle are deservedly proud of their CX turnaround – what are you doing to shift from good to great, and create loyal lifelong customers? We’d love to hear.
*CXPA – Customer Experience Professionals Association (yes – there is even an association now…)