Ask the Experts: How to Boost Your Customer Experience

August 4, 2015 Jiordan Castle


Recently, we’ve shared some predictions about the future of Customer Experience. Most notably, how mobile applications play an important role for both your workers and your customers. Now we’ve asked 2 of our Appirio leaders to share their own insights on the future of Customer Experience, why companies should pay attention to NPS, and other secrets of the trade.


Michelle Swan is the VP of Customer Experience and Corporate Marketing at Appirio. She has over 20 years of experience in communications, branding, and customer and field marketing programs. She created Appirio’s Customer Experience function in 2014 to increase customer loyalty and keep customer-centricity front and center within Appirio’s culture.

DShottonDiane Shotton is the Director of Customer Experience at Appirio. She has over 30 years of experience leading teams to deliver an outstanding Customer Experience. At Appirio, she works directly with customers, applying CX principles as a Project Manager and Account Director.


What is the relationship between Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Experience?

MS: Everyone has a different definition of Customer Experience. At Appirio, we see it as our ability to provide every customer and prospect with an experience reflective of our brand and worthy of their time and money. NPS, as a program, helps us gauge how well customers think we’re doing with this. It lets us gather feedback and insights that we can then use to educate teams across the business, and guide our improvement initiatives and future offerings.

DS: By categorizing customers as Detractors, Passives, and Promoters, organizations can evaluate the subsequent financial behavior (Did they stay with your business? Did they purchase more?). Improving NPS should improve financial performance. Converting Passives to Promoters can add up to millions of dollars in increased revenue.

How can businesses most effectively use NPS?

MS: NPS should be viewed as a program, not a single number. At Appirio, we not only train new hires on NPS, but we also report on how we’re doing against our goals at our all-hands meeting, weekly with the executive team, and to the board. NPS can be used as a way to listen to your customers — to interact with them and show them you value their feedback. Most importantly, it can be used to improve your processes and products so you can create more loyal customers.

DS: Appirio employs a “closed loop” process with our NPS survey responses. We reach out to customers to get more detailed feedback, whether they are Detractors, Passives, or Promoters. Our Customer Experience and customer programs teams structure these conversations to get a deeper dive into customer expectations — what went well and what we can improve. And then these learnings are fed back to the client team and pulled into the broader data set from all customers so that we can identify trends and areas of improvement.

What does the future of Customer Experience look like and what will businesses need to do to adapt?

MS: As a philosophy, I think Customer Experience will shift from trying to improve existing processes and offerings to designing for a future state. In today’s cloud and sharing economy, customer expectations are changing fast. Businesses need to constantly reinvent — or their competition will do it for them — and a great place to start is with experiences that make the lives of your existing or future customers easier.

Take the new pilot program in the UK between Hyatt and Onefinestay, which allows Onefinestay home renters to freshen up and store their luggage at the Hyatt Regency London if they arrive early and can’t get into the house they’ve rented; everyone wins. Onefinestay guests get a better experience, and Hyatt — by embracing a future where guests will likely switch between hotels and homesharing — stays relevant and potentially gains customers by providing a helpful experience. Many of our own customers are looking to create new mobile experiences that enrich and ease the lives of their customers.
In the future, all groups — from R&D to customer service to marketing — will focus on improving the Customer Experience. We’ll have even better data and tools to measure whether we’re being successful. It’s similar to marketing. At one point in time, marketing was a mystical art that people knew was important, though few people could measure or connect to future earnings. With CRM, marketing automation, and sophisticated data analytics tools, this is no longer the case. Marketing has become central to a company’s strategy. I think we’ll see the same thing happen with Customer Experience.


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