Lisa Bowen, Vice President of Marketing, PharMerica
Many companies today rely on a number of third-party vendors to assist in delivering its products and services to customers, like contracted logistics businesses. These vendors are often the face of the company. But reliance on outsiders can pose a challenge: customer service issues sometimes get lost between the vendor and the company.
Even when feedback makes it to the company, it is not always timely – delays that can impact a company’s ability to follow up with customers promptly. For companies that want to amplify the Voice of the Customer to the point where the customer feels heard, that’ is where a Customer Experience program can help.
At PharMerica, we want a customer’s feedback to take it to the highest level it needs to go in order to get resolved, quickly. So we began to develop a system for early detection of issues.
A Data-Driven Journey
The best place to begin is at ground zero. Start by collecting data from each stage of the customer journey through the use of surveys. These can be pulse surveys, phone surveys, and pop-up or always-on online surveys – whatever strategy will best enable an organization to gauge how well its service level is meeting expectations, identify opportunities for improvement, and give the customer the chance to feel heard.
This measurement phase is essential to identify where a company should take action and implement changes. For example, at PharMerica we learned that delivery, communication and timeliness were top areas of concern. Using data and quantifying the issues customers raise enables an operation to prioritize and aids in decision- making about where to invest its efforts, specifically in areas that are most important to customers.
For example, if only one survey respondent mentions software needs to be upgraded to provide better service, that is very different than if 10% of those surveyed say the software is outdated, which would give the team justification to make a request for an upgrade to senior leadership.
Moving the Dial
By focusing on the Customer Experience, a company is best able to find out and implement changes that will most positively affect its customers and, hopefully, move the dial. And even though you may set out to enhance your Net Promoter Score, be aware that it is not a siloed marketing-only effort. IT, Customer Service, and Account Management are just some of the teams that will need to be pulled in.
And the most important partner? Senior leadership. They are critical to not only secure funding but buy-in as well.
A Customer Experience program has to come from the top down. Leadership has to be aware that there are problems they may not know about, approach them without bias or defensiveness, and enable the team to quickly take care of customers and ensure their needs are met.
With a data-driven Customer Experience program, an organization can be more responsive to customer needs, which, in turn, can drive retention and new business. Creating more, faster and better ways for customers to share feedback about their interactions with us is a top priority for PharMerica – and is essential to our reputation in the market.
In our industry, word of mouth is very powerful. By using our Customer Experience program to enhance our service delivery, our customers will let others know. That can have a big influence on a prospect’s decision to purchase, and growth is how we will ultimately measure the success of the program.
Along the way, we have learned some important lessons:
• Spend the necessary time on fact finding before you start implementing changes
• Be realistic and do not put too much pressure on the front end for mind blowing results or you risk setting yourself up for failure
• Make sure the person leading the effort is incredibly passionate, flexible and willing to fail and still be excited to move forward with the effort