Great customer service is widely recognized as one of the key customer experience factors influencing brand loyalty. But customer excellence must also be acknowledged as having a major influence.
Customer excellence is always doing and being the best you can be for your customers. In this article, we’ll spell out how to achieve customer excellence. We’ll also put it into context alongside ‘customer success’, ‘customer experience’ and other terminology.
What is Customer Excellence?
Customer excellence, also known as customer success, begins with ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes. To achieve success customers need to be certain of getting value from the products or services they have purchased. They need to have their expectations met, or surpassed.
“A long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed strategy for maximizing customer and company sustainable proven value.”
Customer Excellence Definition
Customer excellence is:
- Related to the attainment of a customer’s desired outcomes.
- Influenced by a customer’s perceived value of the purchased products or services.
- Affected by a supplier’s understanding of customers’ desires and needs.
- Shaped by customer interactions with a business.
- Supported by what the business does to assist them.
Importance of Customer Excellence?
Customer Excellence vs. Customer Experience
Customer experience (CX) encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interaction with a business. CX measurement should dynamically chart the extent to which customers feel they have achieved their desired outcome. Customer excellence is therefore critical to optimal customer experience ROI.
It’s vital to understand the multitude of factors that determine customer satisfaction and, ultimately, customer excellence. This differs for each and every customer. Customer experience, from pre-sales to post-sales, needs to be designed for customer success. In other words, enabling customers to achieve their desired goals with ease.
Customer Excellence vs. Customer Service
Customer service and support tend to be reactive – provided in response to customer requests. Customer support is traditionally focused on specific product-related questions. Customer service is typically multi-purpose, incorporating a broader range of interactions and general enquiries. Both customer support and customer service require customers to make the first move.
Great customer service teams are hallmarks of a positive CX and customer excellence in general. However, there is a contradiction here. Because requiring customers to seek support could negatively impact their experience.
By strategically focusing on customer excellence, improving customer experience at every touchpoint and recognizing the success factors that are unique to each customer, the need for service and support can be reduced. This enhances the overall customer experience and promotes loyalty. Basically, you want a fantastic customer support capability but you don’t want anyone to need to use it!
Customer Excellence vs. Customer Success
Researching definitions of customer success around the internet provides some useful insight:
Wikipedia defines customer success as:
Customer success is the function at a company responsible for managing the relationship between a vendor and its customers. The goal of customer success is to make the customer as successful as possible, which in turn, improves customer lifetime value (CLTV) for the company.
And the Customer Success Association provides this customer success definition:
A long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed strategy for maximizing customer and company sustainable proven value.
We can therefore summarily state that customer success is:
- Related to the attainment of a customer’s desired outcomes
- Influenced by a customer’s perceived value of the purchased products or services
- Affected by a suppliers understanding of customer’s desires and needs
- Shaped by customer interactions with a business
- Supported by what the business does to assist them.
Customer Success vs Customer Experience
Customer experience, as we’ve defined, encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interaction with a business along with the supplied products or services. Part of their experience is whether or not the products, services and supplier have enabled them to achieve their desired outcome. So customer success is fundamentally one very important aspect of overall customer experience.
It’s vital to understand the multitude of factors that determine customer satisfaction and ultimately customer success for each and every customer. Customer experience, from pre-sales to post-sales, needs to be designed for customer success, enabling them to achieve their desired goals with ease.
Customer Success vs Customer Service
Customer service and customer support tend to be reactive. Service and support are generally provided in response to customers’ requests. Customer support is traditionally focused upon specific product related questions and issues while customer service incorporates a broader range of interactions including pre-sales enquiries, sales support and general enquiries. Both customer support and customer service require questions and issues to be raised by customers in order to elicit a response.
When aiming to develop a consistently positive customer experience throughout all customer journeys the need for a customer to seek service and support will potentially have a negative impact on their overall experience. By strategically focusing on customer success, improving customer experience at every touch point and recognising the success factors that are unique to each customer, the need for service and support can be reduced, thus enhancing overall customer experience and promoting loyalty.
Customer service and support is very much reactive, responding to customer-defined needs and aiming to fulfil these to the satisfaction of the customer. Customer success is proactive, involving interaction with the customer to determine their expected outcomes, what they aim to achieve with the purchased products or services and how these achievements support their business goals. Both customer service and customer success are important elements of the overall customer experience.
How to achieve customer excellence
Businesses must pay special attention to customers to foster loyalty and keep up with ever-changing demands. This is the essence of customer excellence. Consider the following steps to realize the benefits of a customer excellence program.
Use customer feedback to drive customer excellence
By continuously looking for improvement opportunities, you can make incremental changes to the customer journey that benefits everyone. Central to this is the concept of collecting and acting upon real-time customer feedback. This can even influence products and services themselves, with feedback potentially helping you make them more reliable and easier to use – reducing the need for reactive customer service/support.
Customer excellence initiatives are proactive, not reactive. They involve interaction with the customer to determine expected outcomes and goals. Customer service and customer excellence are important elements of the overall customer experience.
Get as much feedback as you can
How else can you deliver customer excellence without fully understanding your customers? Asking for feedback at the right time, in the right way is proactive and mutually beneficial. Here at Customer Thermometer, we obviously tout our award-winning 1-click survey platform – but there are loads of other ways to collect customer feedback. Remember, feedback is an amazing catalyst for positive change. But it’s also highly useful for ‘course-correction’ – validating that your customer service/experience improvements are on track.
Make continuous improvements to the customer journey
We’re big on customer journey mapping. It’s the best way to get a detailed appreciation of CX through your customer’s eyes. Create personas, do some mystery shopping. Most important of all, act upon the findings. Look at what improvement opportunities the journey mapping process throws up. There should be two types of improvements you can make:
- Brilliant basics. The points of friction, delay and stress in the customer journey. Remove them. Ensure that all the basics are perfect. This is absolutely essential to meeting expectations.
- Magic touches. Where it makes sense to add value and spread a little extra happiness. People talk a lot about ‘customer delight’ and here’s where it goes. But don’t get fixated on this. Only branch out into the magic touches when you (and your customers) feel you’ve got the basics nailed.
Have a plan for acting on real-time feedback
The other aspect of ‘in-the-moment’ feedback is how quickly and effectively you respond to individual submissions. Work on developing a feedback response planner for how you deal with feedback in your organization. Do you thank people for giving you 10/10 or a gold star? Do you escalate bad feedback to senior managers to respond directly? Get a plan and make it so everyone in the business knows where it is. Think about creating a customer journey map.
Develop a customer-centric culture
Set standards and empower employees. Customer-centricity is all about putting the customer at the centre of everything you do. It also means everyone in the organization having a customer-driven mindset – not just customer-facing roles. This is another area where feedback mechanisms can promote a better understanding of customers.
That’s not to say customer-facing staff don’t have a key part to play. Hiring, training and developing your people is very important to ensuring a customer-centric culture. Use CSAT measurements as KPIs and garner feedback to keep abreast of this in real-time. Leaderboards can reward and incentivize performance and help you identify stars. Use it to run prize-giving for teams and individuals alike. This will also stimulate the best practices and raise the bar collectively. If CSAT metrics dip, feedback can directly inform training materials to ensure staff are suitably equipped to succeed.
- 7 customer service KPIs you need to track
- How to create your customer journey map
- Customer Satisfaction metrics
Why not give our 1-click customer feedback survey a try? Send yourself an example here: