A CX Influencer in the House: Is Tech Measuring Up?

Our own VP of Customer Care Andy McFarland was recently named one of the “25 CX Influencers You Should Know” by UX company TandemSeven, based on each person’s thought leadership and social media following. In addition to creating a stellar customer experience for Packet Design’s clients, Andy maintains an active blog and social media presence helping others improve their customer service. We asked him how tech companies are doing on the CX front and how they can improve their customer care efforts.

What is the state of the customer experience in enterprise technology?

In a word, fragmented. Some companies exhibit outright disdain and denial regarding the experience. These companies view the customer experience as a “soft” value and as an added “cost” to the business without understanding how it impacts their bottom lines. Other companies believe their “gee whiz” technology will overcome a multitude of experience sins. At the other end of the spectrum, some companies have embraced the concept whole-heartedly and have aligned teams of people whose sole responsibility is to equip and enable their customers with the goal of earning repeat business.

How are enterprises handling the challenges of managing the customer experience as the ways of buying and selling are changing?

Smart enterprises sell more effectively by articulating the value customers will achieve. After the purchase these same enterprises work to transform the vision into value. Because buyers have more information than ever before, there is a large time lag between purchase and value realization. This causes buyer’s remorse and results in pressure to shift providers. The key to reaching a successful customer experience in the early days of a relationship is to agree on specific value propositions and to achieve them as rapidly as possible.

In a Gartner survey of 400 CEOs and senior business executives, 37% ranked customer engagement management (CEM) as their top technology investment over the next five years. Why do you think that is?

To me, this number represents the percentage of people who have “seen the light” and understand the linkage/relationship between the customer experience and profitability. Earlier this month the Temkin Group published a study that showed how favorable customer experiences positively impact financial results. My expectation is that as this reality takes hold, the other 63% will have sudden epiphanies.

How is Packet Design managing the customer experience in light of the changing roles of network professionals?

Our approach is to deliver value to customers in ways that are convenient to their consumption patterns and needs. Network professionals are faced with increased complexity and decreasing resources, and the idea that customers will be available when you want them to be available is outdated. Instead, we try to tailor valuable interactions to meet customers’ time and location needs.

What’s the #1 way for any company to improve their customer service?

I was recently asked to answer this question for the OneReach blog in 100 words or less, and here’s my full answer (for a more detailed explanation, see my Customer Service Malpractice blog post):

In a perfect world:

  • Customers know exactly what they purchased
  • Services are delivered when they are promised
  • Products operate how they were designed and advertised
  • Both products and services provide value (whether tangible or intangible) greater than the cost

But, in our imperfect world, wide gaps exist between expectations and reality. So the #1 way for any company to improve customer service is to bridge these chasms. (It stands to reason that the #1 way to improve the customer experience is to close the gaps before they become customer service calls/complaints.)

Follow Andy on Twitter at @andy_mcf or visit http://pivotpointsolutions.net/.