People Development

Understanding Customer Experience Management

How many times have you been on the receiving end of bad customer service from various institutions? I would guess, like most of us – quite a few times.

Industries such as government and municipalities, hospitals, telecommunication, financial services and retail industries bear the brunt of complaints.  My pet hate is some automated telephone system, in which one has to navigate a maze-like menu in search of a real-life human being.

Have you ever looked at for a glance at how unhappy people are with service levels in this country? A lack of the personal touch is evidence of indifference to what should be an organisation’s first concern: the quality of customers’ experience.

Research has shown that an unhappy customer will tell other people (a rule of thumb evolved in marketing circles, that an unhappy customer will tell 10 others) about their poor experience and with social media and the like, it can spread to hundreds and even thousands of people affecting an organisation’s reputation and bottom line. Remember Dave Carrol and his broken guitar saga on United Airlines? Currently it has over 18 million views on YouTube.  According to Wikipedia, United Airlines’ stock price fell 10%, costing stockholders about $180 million in value.

So, what do organisations need to do to improve the customer’s service experience?

At a recent conference, my colleague Johan Benadie (Director at ODI), stated that there are only 3 things organisations can do to improve anything. Let’s apply it to improving a customer’s service experience:

  1. Change the attitude of management and staff at all direct customer touch points
    • Few of the people responsible for service have given sustained thought to how their separate decisions shape the customer experience – they all have different ideas
    • Provide alignment with the requisite insight and training in customer experience management
    • At the same conference, my colleague Roland Rohrs, (Chairman of ODI) stated that an attitude change can bring about a 60% improvement.
  1. Improve back-end processes to be better and faster (and cheaper) to support the service encounter with customers at all touch points
    • Use Small group activities (SGA’s) to focus on improvement initiatives
  1. Use technology to systematically monitor customer experience
    • Collecting customer service metrics and putting them to use to improve the customer’s service experience
    • Voice of the Customer (VOC) initiatives are some of the most common ways for monitoring and improving the customer experience provided. VOC Systems can provide real time surveys, with quick, high engagement of frontline managers and employees in the VOC initiative

A quote from Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic:

“Better service for the customer is for the good of the public, and this is the true purpose of enterprise.”

Author: Gerald McKinnon : Director at ODI

References: *Harvard Business review ( – Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager

To read more about ODI’s Focused Improvement Projects, click here.