Businesses nowadays are struggling to upgrade their customer experience strategies to reduce customer churn rate and increase revenues—leading to a better position in the market!
According to Forbes, ‘’Customer experience is today’s business benchmark.’’ Therefore, we can say that it is evolving as the new norm for brands.
Customers these days have a plethora of options to choose from. If you want to retain them, you must improve their experience across all the touchpoints in their customer journey.
Besides, there are various resources available on the Internet that educate users on making a buying decision.
Therefore, businesses must deliver a remarkable customer experience that grows their brand awareness.
We recently got an excellent opportunity to interview Alan Pennington, a freelance CX and EX special advisor. With more than 12 years of experience in the customer service industry, Alan has witnessed all the ups and downs in the business sector.
Alan Pennington has also been listed in the ‘Top 25 Global CX Thought Leaders and Influencers 2019’ for doing a remarkable job in the industry. Alan is currently the deputy chairman of a leading US-based CX software business, SuiteCX. Along with this, he is the special advisor on CX in Deloitte and co-founder of Mulberry Consulting.
Alan has also written The Customer Experience Book that has received enormous appreciation and splendid feedback.
So, without further ado, let’s walk through the inspiring journey of an acknowledged CX expert, Alan Pennington.
1. What factors influenced you to enter the field of customer experience?
Alan: Back around the turn of the century, customer experience was just in its infancy. It was dominated by research businesses that made you aware of the problems with your customer service but not how to fix them.
Advertising agencies, too, created outstanding campaigns to create demand and built expectations that the operations could not deliver. There was a significant gap in the market for a firm to take the research and advertising spend and translate that into deliverable experiences.
While it’s true that just because there is a gap in the market, it does not necessarily mean there is the market in the gap. Fortunately, our hunch turned out to be true!
2. According to you, what is the real definition of good customer service?
Alan: In my opinion, the actual definition of good customer service is delivering brilliant basics, meeting your customer’s expectations and finally adding that little something extra when it is least expected.
3. Being the deputy chairman of SuiteCX, what steps should every business follow to deliver an incredible customer experience?
Alan: Being in the industry for a decade, I would like to share the following steps that businesses should follow to deliver an exceptional brand experience to their customers:
- Great experiences don’t happen by accident; they happen by design. Therefore, you must invest time in preparing well-defined business strategies and practical approaches.
- Not every interaction you have with a customer is of equal importance. Hence, you need to map out all of those touchpoints from the outside and use data to understand the critical moments in your customer’s journey. Also, you must look carefully at how these experiences are designed.
The SuiteCX provides the perfect framework to assimilate all the touchpoints and data to evaluate and capture both—the need and the actual changes.
4. What are some common myths that newcomers have when entering the field of CX?
Alan: In my personal opinion, some of the most common myths include:
- CX is very complicated.
- It is an expensive undertaking.
- It is a project; when actually, it is a never-ending journey of changes and adjustments.
5. How does it feel when you see your name listed in the top 25 CX Thought Leaders and Influencers 2019?
Alan: I am constantly humbled by the feedback and to be seen by my peers as a leader in the CX/EX space plus, having recently been described as an industry legend too, is the pinnacle of success for me.
6. What practices do you follow to tackle a frustrated customer?
Alan: I take them back to basics. I destroy the often held myths that prevent leaders from fully embracing the huge commercial wins by integrating CX/EX into their business strategy and solution toolkit.
This gives people the confidence that they can succeed, and I go ahead and prove it to them. Now you have a fully engaged sponsor.
7. Based on your experience, what are some common mistakes businesses make that hinder their customer service?
Alan: They spend too much time fixing recurring problems rather than redesigning the experience based on the known issues.
Data, information, and research are too often used as reasons not to act—“we need more data”, which means it is not turned into actionable change. Often, the default is to create a vast programme and wait for 2-3 years. It might take years to deliver, and in the meantime, the world might change.
You need to make hundreds of tiny changes that require little or no governance changes when it is a collective cross-functional approach. In fact, making a lot of small changes might take your CX to the next level. Just like in the words of Nike, “Just Do It!”
8. What strategies do you personally follow while creating a business plan for the operations group?
Alan: I focus on real-time in year deliverables to engage as many individuals as possible across various operations and demonstrate a line of sight business measurable improvements.
Businesses must focus on the quarter ahead but with an eye on the longer-term cumulative goal and ensure that their deliverables are customer outcomes-focused.
So, start with what you want to achieve, by when, and then create the plan of action.
Alan: Remember that
CX is not input; it is the output of activities that happen inside your company.
When it comes to CX, we are in the memory business. It is about designing positive memories and attention to detail is critical to success.
Also, customer-centricity is rarely the answer; it is about dialling up the CX component of your business strategy to the right level for your brand position.
10. Are you working on any new book? If yes, we’d love to know more about it.
Alan: I am writing a novel at the moment and have started working on a follow-up business book that centres around the ROI of CX. It focuses on the growing area of the employee experience, which I see as the next big thing in the world of customer experience.
Alan Pennington is a great believer in practical advice. He focuses on direct actions that can effectively impact your customer’s experience.
With tremendous experience, Alan believes that a positive customer experience is the backbone of your business success. It is because satisfied customers become the loyal ones when served with care.
Businesses may consider it an extra effort to focus entirely on customer experience, but it is worth it.
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