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What’s the #1 factor in delivering exceptional customer experiences?

#CustomerExperience, #BuyerInsight, #ExperienceDesign

Engagement. Without a doubt, your organization’s success in delivering an exceptional customer experience depends on achieving engagement. In fact, according to Dr. John Fleming, Chief Scientist of Gallup, those companies that financially outperform average companies over the long run are the ones that consistently and simultaneously sustain high levels of employee and customer engagement.

This key theme resonated with me during my participation at the Customer Experience Strategy Summit 2014, held in Toronto by Strategy Institute.

Nurturing the human element

The two-day agenda comprised many highly interesting presentations from customer experience professionals and experts speaking about challenges and successes in their direct marketing efforts, customer service programs, call center operations and broader initiatives to create seamless omni-channel experiences.

From these talks, it was clear that the term “customer experience” has many dimensions and, in its fullest conception, requires the contributions of technology, processes and people from across all of a company’s functional groups. However, the most important theme was that, for us as marketers, sales people, customer experience professionals and organizational change leaders to design and deliver an exceptional customer experience, we must build and nurture the human element of both our employee base and our customer base in meaningful ways.

Achieving engagement with employees means tapping into, supporting and encouraging their collective attention, energy and accountability; doing so is critically important because they are the people who actually create the experience customers have with our brands—whether it’s in a retail environment, on a sales call, in the call centre or online. For customers, achieving engagement means designing and delivering on each touch point, whether person-to-person or digital, such that those experiences are perceived as relevant and emotionally resonant.

Building exceptional customer experiences

Dr. Fleming cautioned that businesses have tended to under-invest in the human part of the equation and suggested we need to pay more attention to the emotional elements of experiences and focus not just on the technology and process.

At Quarry, we couldn’t agree more. Our Chief Innovation Officer, Glen Drummond, gave a presentation at the conference that was solidly aligned with Fleming’s argument; Glen focused on the importance of developing deep customer insight as the basis for creating exceptional customer experiences. (You can find Glen’s presentation on SlideShare.)

Given Glen’s presentation, and to augment Fleming’s, here’s what I’d add that’s of critical importance: the path to achieving meaningful engagement is rooted in empathy, and empathy can only come through developing a deep understanding of both customers and employees. That understanding comes through having better insight.

So, an important refinement: The #1 factor in delivering customer experience is engagement, which comes from having a deep understanding of your customers and your employees. Your customer insight efforts need to identify what will be relevant and has the potential for emotional resonance, because relevance and resonance are the keys to engagement.

What other factors do you feel are critical to delivering exceptional experiences?