The more things change, the more they stay the same.
This often-quoted bit of irony seems appropriate as I reflect on the customer experience lessons of 2016 and look ahead to 2017. The details of customer experience management continue to change – technological innovations, new channels of communication, and evolving customer expectations, just to name a few. But the big picture of customer experience is what it always has been: relationships.
That theme is at the core of what CSP does for our clients. Sure, we’re a customer experience insights firm, but so much of the value of what we do is really about relationships. In 2016, we’ve debuted new solutions that not only deepen our relationships with our clients, but are designed around understanding the influence of inter-office relationships on the customer experience.
So let’s look at the connections that are and will continue to be important in the coming year:
- The relationship between data and the customer experience, which is at the foundation of everything we do. Like most relationships, it’s a two-way street: you need data to inform your strategies and actions, while the data alone doesn’t mean much unless it’s followed by action. CSP prides ourselves on not just doing the research and issuing reports, but guiding our clients on concrete ways to use that information to their benefit.
- The relationships between banking customers and their branches: This has been an ongoing conversation in the financial services industry for many years. Online banking, mobile banking, and virtual customer service have contributed significant changes to the way banks do business. But it’s clear that customers still value brick-and-mortar branches and the people who staff them. Their needs are evolving, but they still have needs. This evolution is largely fueled by the need for their bank to be the resident expert on any and all financial advice and direction.
- The relationships between people and their devices. Smartphones, tablets, and even plain old computers are at the center of many consumers’ professional and personal lives. The rapid pace of innovation in this sphere has created immense pressure within other industries to keep up with their customers’ demands and expectations. But as this relates to Point 2 above, there are still plenty of folks who don’t use (or don’t have access to) the latest and greatest pieces of technology, or simply prefer the traditional ways of doing things. The continuing challenge to banks in 2017 will involve figuring out how to straddle both worlds.
- The relationships between managers and employees. No matter your suite of products, solutions, and strategies for keeping customers happy, a healthy customer experience relies on healthy relationships behind the scenes. More companies are realizing and prioritizing the importance of manager development, coaching and training, and providing a well-balanced employee experience. All of these elements together create the infrastructure to support exceptional customer service and satisfaction. The more that managers understand what is truly driving the customer experience, the better they can coach and train their staffs to execute on those drivers.
Customer experience has always been about relationships, but no relationship exists in a vacuum. As the context and influencers continue to change, so too will our strategies – without ever losing sight of that core truth.
We at CSP are ready and eager to support you in the New Year and beyond. So as the calendar flips over this month, I invite you to take a moment and reflect on these relationships. How did they affect things for your business in 2016? Where do you see them going in 2017? And how can we help?