From Best Practice to Breakthrough

‘Best practices’ is a term that is commonly used while referring to processes or procedures that are prescribed as being most effective. In the context of customer experience management, the question arises - can the implementation of best practices lead to differentiation?

One could argue that if best practices are defined as established practices, implementation of these practices would merely be playing catch-up with market leaders. Implementation of best practices would be similar to playing defence rather than playing offence, and would help a company survive rather than make a significant dent in the marketplace.

Here’s our point of view on the matter.

From a customer experience management perspective, companies need to look beyond 'best practices' and establish 'breakthrough practices'.

Breakthrough practices are policies, processes, and procedures that focus on driving what is possible to achieve differentiation. Breakthrough practices are 'fit to purpose' and reflect the vision, strategy, and brand values of a company. Best practices are objective and established; breakthrough practices are subjective, dynamic, and disruptive.

For example Zappos, a company that focuses on 'customer happiness' as a key brand value, ignores the best practice of measuring 'average handle time' as a measure of contact centre agent efficiency and instead uses ‘after call wrap up’. This frees up their agents to devote the necessary time to establish an emotional connection with their customers and address their issues to satisfaction. Then, while agents are not interacting with customers and their throughput becomes more relevant, they are measured on wrap-up time. Zappos' breakthrough practice is one of the key contributors to its legendary customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

In another example, EMC discovered that even though their customers were highly satisfied with their products, they did not necessarily demonstrate loyalty to the company. EMC decided to ignore the traditional measures of Customer Satisfaction and NPS to gauge customer experience, and instead established Customer Loyalty Index as a measure of customer experience and loyalty. The index hinges on three questions:

  1. Is the customer satisfied overall with EMC's people, products, and services?
  2. Is the customer likely to purchase EMC products and services again?
  3. Is the customer willing to recommend EMC's products and services?

Customers must answer "yes" to all three questions to be categorized as loyal.

Supported by a holistic, data driven closed-loop process, EMC’s award winning breakthrough practice of managing customer experience is now being adopted by other technology companies.

In summary, in the world of customer experience management, adopt a breakthrough practices mindset if you want to drive differentiation based on brand values.

  • Consider established best practices as a point of reference, and not the destination
  • Look beyond competitors into practices across other verticals and geographies
  • Feel free to ignore best practices, and define policies and procedures that are 'fit to purpose'
  • Innovate and differentiate

What breakthrough practices have you applied at your companies?


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