Shaping Customer Experience through Balanced and Well-Defined Strategies

4 min read
26 May

In this interview, Tom Kiriakou shares the importance as to why an organization needs to operate in the heart of transparency, relevancy, and continuous improvement. Tom believes, “competition is not our adversary, the unnecessary complexity in our processes is the problem."

An organization must operate in the heart of transparency, relevancy, and continuous improvement. Doing so, an organization’s focus will be maintained throughout all the touch points and value creation stages.Similarly, it entails individuals (in the organization) to follow a consistent system (culture of transparency) making them accountable within the framework of that system (maintaining the culture through personal commitment and the delivery of results). 

Background and Career

I have been involved in the world of customer success for the past 15 years, Tom shares. Tom worked for several SaaS organizations across the travel, predictive analytics, and not-for-profit sectors.

He has a passion for delivering best-in-class service quality and value to customers. Over the years, he has had the privilege of working at a number of up and coming organizations that challenged him to grow quickly in leadership roles through changing dynamics and acquisitions.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of being on the frontlines and understanding the customers’ challenges. I pride myself as being a true customer champion, by providing the right solutions at the right time. Building and scaling success organizations through this lens lead to happy customers.”

Building and scaling success organizations

We are too familiar with this expression: which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the business context, which one supersedes the other? Does customer experience come first and later the business result? Or, the other way around?

However, this question is debated, there is a clear answer, and it comes down to this simple reality.

“A strong relationship does not guarantee new deals or contract renewals. What customers really want is a company that understands their business needs and work to fulfill them. That is what will ultimately build that bond and trust.

A strong relationship does not guarantee new deals or contract renewals. What customers really want is a company that understands their business needs and work to fulfill them. That is what will ultimately build that bond and trust.

Therefore, the role of the business is not only to influence the customer’s bottom line but to help them easily adopt and succeed using your products, services, and systems.

Tom points out – “a company should not have to tell its customers why they are the best in their market; customer engagement at a personal level and the business semantics play a key role in changing customer perception.”

At the end of the day, customers want value from the partnership they have invested in and ultimately want to know they are getting exactly what they have bought and what the brand has promised them.

Having this clear understanding of why customers choose your platform/service over others allows your organization to react and respond appropriately. Overall, customers want transparency and assurance that their customized products and services will not only meet, but exceed their expectations

Customer experience ties to their needs/requirements

Customer experiences — and more importantly their ever-changing expectations — do not end at the point of sale. It’s important to look at customer interactions through a different lens.

Why? Because looking at the process from the customer’s viewpoint provides key information on whether appropriate attention or touch-points across the customer’s journey are in place. Customer needs are not created equal, and each book of business has different concerns to manage and resolve.

The modern customer expects a high level of service from their service providers, so it is critical to know how customers engage with your product, with each other, and how your products drive behavior.

To manage your customers’ expectations and set them up for success, you need to know the following things about them:

  1. How do they measure success? What is the key metric(s) that they are using to measure success? What action do they take to achieve results?
  2. Does a customer demand a high touch or white-glove treatment? What are the customer’s timeframes?  
  3. Look for the pain points.  How do business capabilities and resources affect the larger goal or picture? Are there other outstanding business issues that could possibly occur or surface?
  4. What does their experience look like? Even if your customers achieve their objectives using your platform or service, if their experience is painful and requires more effort than they believe is necessary, then you have significantly increased their cost of achieving success.
  5. What do you need to do to better support them and ensure their success? How can you involve, encourage, and empower them to participate, while cultivating a culture that takes ownership of issues and develops a team approach in identifying and implementing effective business solutions?

In addition, it is crucial for the organization to understand what the “time to value and early success” means to your customers. Successful organizations must establish customer touchpoints well before the point of purchase to influence behavior and set up the proper expectations.

An organization must establish customer touch-points well before the point of purchase to influence behavior and set up the proper expectations.

After purchase, the organization should follow through or design an intuitive onboarding experience with a high level of service that ensures product delivery and support.

Moving at the speed of customer expectations

Today’s customers want their product quickly, but they do not want a lot of legwork to get it implemented. They expect organizations to be agile, fast, and easy, and stand behind their products and their guarantees.

Therefore, establishing an intuitive and streamlined process is critical for sustaining strong customer experiences.

In the world of efficiency and effectiveness, an organization could survive and prosper by designing a CS program that aligns with customer values, maintains regular communication, monitors targets and goals, and upholds the brand promise—at all times! 

Customer Success Organizations should:

  • Empower customers and provide them the voice they would like to be heard and listened to.
  • Always being there when the customer needs you.
  • Find innovative ways to enhance the customer experience.
  • When selling products/services, communication of the true product value is paramount to your company’s integrity - everyone in the organization must ensure that this timeless value is not be taken for granted just for the sake of short-term gain or personal success.
  • Never leave the customer in a state of uncertainty.
  • Resolve problems effectively and efficiently before they become larger issues or complaints.
  • Develop relationships with the sales team to learn more about the customer’s needs, pain points, and key considerations are taken when purchasing your product. In doing so, the Customer Success team does not need to ask the same questions since customers already answered it.

An organization that builds customer experience strategies that incorporate transparency, personalization (relevancy), streamlined procedures, an intuitive feedback loop, and continuous improvement processes are well positioned for today’s challenging world and ever-changing customer’s expectation.

To take your customer-centric organization to a new level, ensure that your team focuses on creating and delivering value, develops open lines of communication between management and its people – transparency is key. It builds and establishes trust, and identifies obstacles standing in the customer’s way and helping them overcome it.

If these things are not there, you will get little traction in creating and delivering value – hence, keeping your customers.

About Tom Kiriakou:

He is a customer-centric executive focused on delivering best-in-class service quality and delivering value to customers, by leveraging customer feedback to ensure long-term relationships, to drive retention, expansion of recurring revenue, and advocacy.

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