Tête-à-Tête with Annette Franz, The Customer Experience Veteran

customer support expertCustomer support has become the topmost goal for any business. No company can afford to ignore the growing significance of customer support in times of today.

Your competitors go from post to pillar to get hold of your customers. Customers prefer brands that delight them with excellent customer service and faster issue resolution.

Here’s a sneak-peek into the interview that we conducted with Annette Franz, CCXP; founder and CEO, CX Journey Inc. Check out her insights into customer support.

Q1. How to create a customer-centric business? Can journey mapping be used as a tool?

When a business is customer-centric, it implies the customer is at the heart of everything the company does. Decisions are made with the customer’s best interests in mind.

When products are designed, processes are developed, or decisions are made, every employee asks:

What would the customer say about this? How will this impact the customer? How will it make her feel?

The classic example of customer-centric behavior is Jeff Bezos representing the customer in his e-staff meetings using an empty chair as the symbol.

To be customer-centric, businesses must make a culture shift, a mindset shift, and a behavioral shift. They should decide to do things differently. They should decide to do things with the customer in mind always.

Regarding journey mapping, it’s both a tool and a process. It can be used as a way to keep the customer at the front and at the center. I could talk about that for days!

Q2. What is your take on customer support vs. customer success?

I’m assuming you’re asking about the differences. In a nutshell, I view customer support as reactive and customer success as proactive.

Without recreating the wheel, I’ve written about both, as they are comparable to customer experience, from which you can get a better idea of my perspectives on each area. I hope you don’t mind that I share the link.

Customer support is a point in time where they seek assistance during their relationship journey with a brand. However, customer success focuses more on building a B2B relationship over a period of time. While differentiating the two concepts with customer experience, I realized that getting the experience right for the customers is more important.

So, customer support is about building a delightful experience while customer success is a part of the equation and a subset of customer experience.

Q3. How do you stop your customers from moving on to your competitors?

This is a simplified response, clearly. You’ve got to listen to customers; understand who they are, what their needs are, and what jobs they are trying to do; and then design experiences to help them do what they need to do.

There are a ton of statistics out there to prove that designing and delivering great customer experience; an experience grounded in customer understanding, is the way to retain customers.

Customers will leave if they’ve had a bad experience or consistently bad experiences with a brand. Of course, you don’t want your customers to behave that way.

Q4. Can you discuss the strategies growing companies need to adapt to turn customers into brand advocates?

Businesses need to make a culture shift, a mindset, and a behavioral shift. Decide to act differently from your competitors and always keep customers in your mind. Listen, understand, and design experiences to help your customers meet their needs. Design and live a customer-centric culture.

Q5. What is the best way for a company to improve its customer experience? Choose one from the options below and tell us why you have made that choice?

1. Focus on employee experience
2. Walk in the customer's shoes
3. Define & review customer-centric values within the company
4. Provide a great experience across channels
5. Get customer feedback

The answer is really all of the above. I’ll try to explain in the order in which they should be executed.

  • You’ve got to define your core values and deliberately design the customer-centric culture you want to live. Culture = core values + behavior. Core values will drive hiring, firing, promotion, etc. They guide employees in their daily actions.
  • Happy, satisfied, engaged employees who are having a great experience with their employers will deliver a great experience for their customers. Focus on employees and their experience more.
  • Understand your customers – who they are and what problems they are trying to solve with your products and services. Listen to their feedback and walk in their shoes. Feedback may work as the foundation for understanding consumer behavior. We can’t transform something we don’t understand.
  • Yes, providing consistent multichannel and omnichannel experiences are important. But you’ve got to focus on other things first before coming to this one.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Annette Franz, CCXP; founder and CEO, CX Journey Inc. as much as we did. If you wish to learn more on customer support, stay tuned to our expert interview series.

What questions do you wish we’d asked? Post a comment below!

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