Gartner Outlines 7 Initiatives to Improve Customer Experience

by Jim Berkowitz on March 5, 2008

Here is a synopsis of an article about some recent research conducted by the Gartner Group, Gartner Outlines 7 Initiatives to Improve Customer Experience:

Targeting, attracting, and retaining new customers will remain a top priority for chief information officers (CIOs) in 2008, according to a worldwide survey of 1500 CIOs by Gartner Executive Programmes (EXP). CIOs will need to help sales, marketing and customer service to enhance the customer experience to meet this goal.

Many CRM programmes are established with the intention of improving the customer experience but they are often uncoordinated and affect the overall desired ’experience’ of the brand. Gartner outlines seven types of initiatives that can help organisations focus on specific efforts that, in aggregate, will boost customer loyalty and satisfaction.

“No one project will, by itself, improve the overall experience, but the combination of these seven types of projects, if implemented well, will contribute to the development and perpetual improvement of the organisation’s customer experiences,” says Ed Thompson, research vice-president at Gartner.

Gartner advises companies to focus their efforts on projects that are doable and critical, while keeping the broader business objective as a future project.

The seven fundamental initiatives to help companies improve customer experience are said to be…

1. Act on feedback, deploy changes and communicate actions to employees and customers – Companies that fail to act on these actions in response to customers’ feedback are throwing away the chance to increase the number of satisfied and loyal customers.

2. Design processes from the outside in – Most process redesign is done with the objective of improving operational efficiencies rather than to improve the customer experience; which requires the organization to identify which processes matter most to customers then set about identifying what to improve: an outside-in approach.

3. Act as one organisation to ensure consistency – The customer may interact with many parties as part of his or her business with a company. The challenge for the company is to ensure that information gleaned at one interaction is not forgotten in the next channel.

4. Be open – Organisations that want to improve the customer experience often become more open. Being more open may just mean opening up more channels or opening hours but it can mean much more.

5. Personalise products and experiences – Some personalisation options are simple, such as a Web site that enables customers to monogram products, while others are more complex, such as tailoring and personal pricing.

6. Alter attitudes and employee behaviour – Employees’ actions are often the most powerful improvements in a customer’s experience. Companies can alter employee behaviour in three primary ways: recruit the right types of employees, ensure standards such as policies, procedures and governance structures, and create training programmes and incentives that can modify employee behaviour patterns.

7. Design the complete customer experience – Many organisations have no plan or design for the customer experience. The experience is unplanned and accidental in its execution, with the result that the experience “just happens”.

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