To say that Celika Caldwell knows customer experience would be an understatement.
With more than 12 years of experience standing up and spearheading CX initiatives at FedEx, AARP, and now, as the GVP of Customer Experience Management for Oracle Advertising and CX, Caldwell had plenty of insight to share at Adweek’s Outlook 2022 last week.
During her keynote address, “4 Ways to Delight Customers in 2022,” Caldwell explained what it takes to become customer-centric—and why it’s so important amid an ongoing pandemic.
The pandemic has been “a catalyst for organizations to really step up their game” in terms of customer experiences, says Caldwell. “Customers needed access to the same products and services but required a very different experience.”
Companies had to adapt to these changing expectations while managing major operational constraints. From expanded telehealth offerings to curbside grocery pickup to more self-service options from local governments, we’ve seen many organizations rise to the challenge to create a seamless customer experience.
“For the most part,” Caldwell noted, “the technology and resources that enabled these experiences already existed.” The only thing missing was the urgency.
“As consumers, we’ve raised the bar for what a good, acceptable customer experience is,” says Caldwell, adding that there’s no willingness to go back to the status quo. Companies “now have more pressure to transform and be more customer-focused.”
With that in mind, Caldwell emphasized four key methods that businesses should adopt to become truly customer-centric.
You may already believe you have a solid understanding of your client base, but if you’re not actively sharing information with other departments and with your company at large, then no one is getting the full picture.
The first step to enhancing the customer experience is to “create a shared understanding of your customer,” says Caldwell.
She went on to share a somber but important customer insight that her CX team discovered during her time at AARP—revealing an aspect of the customer journey that management was completely unaware of. Employees from AARP call centers shared that they frequently got calls from the partners of members who had recently passed, seeking to cancel their membership. Due to delays in the process, they would often call multiple times to follow up.
Not only was this frustrating, but it was also very distressing. Once Caldwell’s team surfaced this concern, AARP could address the delay and incorporate greater sensitivity into the customer experience.
The importance of a shared customer understanding is clear, but how can you create this shared knowledge? The key is to gather all the discrete insights your team has about your customers, consolidate them, and share them proactively throughout your business. “Get creative,” says Caldwell, noting that “listening can take different forms,” from complex text analytics to simple focus groups.
Next, Caldwell emphasized the importance of involving your customers in identifying issues and building effective solutions. “We often think we know what the problem is, and it ends up being something totally different,” she said.
If you have access to your customers, invite them to play an active role in clarifying and confirming the challenges they encounter as they engage with your brand. Employ co-creation, journey mapping, and other forms of collaboration to make sure you understand the problem and address it effectively.
One example of this method in action is the FedEx Delivery Manager, noted Caldwell. Customers routinely missed deliveries because they were never home during standard office hours. FedEx’s CX team worked directly with customers to clarify the issue and create an effective solution. Now, customers can change their delivery time, pick up packages in store, or reroute them elsewhere.
Third, Caldwell says to truly be a customer-focused organization, you need to measure and act on the right metrics.
You probably have a few metric-gathering measures in place, like email open rates and satisfaction surveys. However, if you’re not capturing the full customer experience—including before and after they engage with your product or service—you could be missing out on some crucial information.
Start by mapping out a full customer journey, says Caldwell. Then, consider what metrics you’re either already gathering, or that you could be gathering to measure your performance. Finally, assign ownership and accountability. Put a process in place to act on the information you gather, pulling from existing financial, behavioral, and operational data from the customer journey as well.
The fourth and final discipline is to create a culture of CX within your company, says Caldwell. Though a full transformation may take years, she cited three techniques that companies can put into effect right away.
The most important step is to craft a clear, authentic CX vision that everyone in your company can understand and rally around. Everyone should know exactly what experience you want to deliver for your customers.
Next, consider the employee experience. Do your employees have the resources and skills they need to deliver the customer experience you’re striving for? If your employees feel valued and empowered—particularly in shaping your CX vision—they’ll be more invested in this shift.
Lastly, look for every possible opportunity to reinforce your CX vision, from your hiring and onboarding processes to meeting kickoffs and other rituals.
For more CX insights, watch Celika Caldwell’s full Adweek Outlook 2022 keynote address:
Though a total transformation takes time and buy-in, you can start exercising these CX muscles in some form almost immediately. For more information on how Oracle Advertising and CX can help empower your entire business to deliver exceptional customer experiences, visit our website or watch the brief video below.