AAA, Humana, Teleflora on Defining a Successful Customer Experience

Brian Cantor

Ask a panel of business leaders about the importance of the customer experience, and brace yourself for a universal, endless display of gushing about its significance.

Ask that same panel how they define the customer experience, and you will need the world’s biggest notebook to keep track of all the disparities.

With research continuing to demonstrate a pivotal link between a customer’s experience with and loyalty to a brand, it is no surprise that business leaders cannot go a minute without stressing its importance. They would be outing themselves as antiquated if they did not do so.

But such leaders—and their customers—often view experience as the business world’s version of "I’ll know it when I see it," and that makes pinpointing a precise definition nearly impossible. We know about great customer experiences—revealed in stories about Nordstrom refunding a customer for a tire he bought at another store and Zappos spending eight hours on the phone with a customer—but one cannot manage a business based on anecdotes.

He, instead, must position his organization so closely to the customer that legendary tales of customer experience emerge naturally. An organization knows it is on the track to customer-centricity not when it generates media buzz for its first awesome service interaction but when those great stories begin to seem ordinary.

But how does one put itself in such a position? Under which framework should it manage in order to bring its organization closer to the label of customer-centric?

Call Center IQ’s complimentary Executive Report on Customer Experience, developed from one of the most comprehensive survey- and interview-based customer management research projects in years, takes businesses through the entire customer experience process.

And to help bring the findings to life and resonate with professionals aiming to make a difference in their own customer experience strategies, we asked thought leaders from AAA, Humana, Teleflora, SPi Global, IntelliResponse, LogMeIn and Questback for pithy comments on successful customer experiences:

Ian Zafra, SPi Global:

Success in implementing customer experience programs and solutions should not just be rooted on the gathering and analysis of customer feedback or having a feedback mechanism, but on what/ how/how quickly a business’s response is to each piece of feedback they gather. Customer experience isn’t just about listening and measuring; it’s also about — and more importantly connected to — engaging, which is the ‘full circle’ or closed loop on customer experience.

Amas Tenumeh, Teleflora:

One of our goals is to move from data to context, from output to outcome. To do that, you’ve got to ask yourself ‘What are you trying to solve for?’ and then get everyone in a room to solve the customer’s problem.

Erik Eaker, Humana:

If you get your internal focus right first that bleeds into your customer experience. Focus on what you want to be known for.

Mike Hennessy, IntelliResponse:

Above all else, make it easy for the customer to do business with you.

Dann Allen, AAA:

You have to have a vision. Ours is to create fanatically loyal lifetime members by delivering outstanding customer experience.

John Purcell, LogMeIn:

Although we look for owners of the customer experience in the respondents’ companies, [the data shows] that there are several departments responsible. It’s extremely important that we recognize that there are several functional areas that contribute to customer experience. If we start with raising awareness of that basic tenet, we put our organizations in a significantly stronger position to improve customer experience holistically.

Ivar Kroghrud, Questback:

A very important success factor is to have clear and strong top-level commitment and backing to give necessary ability to cut through internal issues and hurdles.