With more companies than ever competing on customer experience, many companies are investing in dedicated CX teams. With so many different functions orbiting the customer experience, there’s some debate about what internal resources and expertise should become the launchpad for new CX functions. In Usersnap’s 2020 State of Customer Experience report, 60% of B2B respondents and 67% of B2C respondents said that the Support function has the greatest investment in CX.
We were thrilled to host Jenny Dempsey, CX Manager at Apeel Sciences and Fruitstand.com, and Top 25 2021 ICMI Thought Leader, for a session on building a CX organization from Support. Jenny has several years of experience serving as a front-line customer service agent and leading front-line teams. So when it was time for Apeel to formalize a dedicated customer experience function, Jenny’s Support team was a natural launchpad for the company’s CX function. Here are our top three takeaways from the session:
1. If you want to do something about your customer feedback, you need a CX function.
We kicked off the discussion to define the main differences between Support and CX. “Support is not just about when customers have problems — Support helps customers navigate questions and receives all kinds of customer feedback. Customer Support is part of the customer experience, but it’s not the entire customer experience.”
So when is it time to build a dedicated CX function that is responsible for making customer-centric decisions that help improve these variables for all customers?
A high volume of high-quality customer feedback is often a sign that your organization is ready for a dedicated CX function. Jenny clarified, “if the service team has valuable feedback from actual people using the product but there’s no one to own it or nowhere for that feedback to go, that’s a huge sign.”
Burn-out on your customer-facing teams can be another sign that it’s time to stand up a CX function that is responsible for analyzing and activating customer feedback. Jenny explained that without CX, many companies experience an accountability gap — agents experience burn-out because they repeatedly address the same kinds of customer issues that aren’t getting fixed. Agents aren’t empowered to fix the issues themselves. “Repeat frustrations create a lot of burn-out. When we don’t have a way to translate feedback and see it actionably corrected over and over, it becomes very difficult to navigate and totally exhausting.”
“If companies can look at their contact center and identify a struggle that is the result of ongoing problems because there’s no defined accountability, it’s a clear signal that you need a CX function. CX managers come in and organize customer feedback, and actively listen to the needs of each department. Then, they inspire action by creating feedback funnels to get insight to the stakeholders who can execute improvements in their own spheres of expertise.”
And why is Support often the most logical launchpad for CX? Jenny highlighted that “Support is a great place for it to start because agents have endless opportunities, unlike other teams, to observe things about the customer experience. They get to watch the customer experience unfold from your customers’ eyes.”
Jenny also called out Marketing as an appropriate home for CX in some organizations. “Marketing is speaking to the customers and bringing them in. Marketing can often find creative ways to engage customers via marketing before they have the opportunity to raise issues with Support.”
2. Measure both the quantitative and the qualitative.
While there’s often much overlap between Support and CX, effectively measuring CX requires a nuanced approach. Traditional Support metrics like response times and CSAT can often feed into CX measurement. Still, to meaningfully measure CX so that you can take actionable insight away from it, CX leaders must measure themes.
“I look for what types of things customers are raising. I have a very robust tagging system that helps me understand the topics that customers care about, how often they are surfacing, and it helps me paint a clear picture of the customer experience. Once I have quantified these themes, I deliver the feedback to different teams, and we work together to improve what matters. Because I can quantify the themes that customers are bringing up, I can speak to other teams and have the priority status changed across different initiatives.”
Of course, Jenny also looks at things like overall ticket volume, but again, in the context of tracking specific themes, rather than a pureplay Support specific context like QA to understand agent throughput. “Because my system tells me what tickets are about, I can use volume as a strong CX indicator.”
3. Consistent feedback funnels are crucial to improving CX.
Getting feedback to the right sets of ears and eyes requires a strong process and infrastructure to support it — even the best insights will wind up on a “too-hard” pile if it’s not clear who needs to do what and why. Jenny has implemented a process whereby every Friday is a ‘Feedback Friday.’
“On Fridays, I share all of the metrics and customer stories that I’ve gathered over the week to the entire team. From that, we can work together as a team to create short-term goals, look toward the future, identify great ideas from our customers, and execute on initiatives that come directly from our customer feedback.
When crafting your process, Jenny cautioned that not all departments necessarily like to listen to customer feedback, especially when it’s not glowing. Whether you deliver feedback in a structured presentation or via a periodic email, it must be delivered from a ‘here’s how we can improve’ angle. “When we look at customer feedback from an angle of ‘here’s how we can improve,’ suddenly customer feedback doesn’t look so bad.”
Jenny emphasized that consistency is the most critical consideration for distributing cross-functional feedback.
“If you aren’t distributing feedback consistently, then things will always get pushed under the rug, and you’ll get stuck in a vicious cycle of repeat problems with no solution. If you tend to keep feedback to yourself, and then one day it gets more serious, and you decide to share it with the responsible team, they are likely to be skeptical and ask you why you hadn’t mentioned it earlier. If you consistently share customer feedback, whether it’s every week or every other week, and you have people understanding and engaging on the other end, that’s your ticket to getting movement in the right direction for your customer experience.”
Thanks to Jenny Dempsey for sharing her enthusiasm and deep insights with us! Check out the full recording below for more.