Today’s customer is in the driver’s seat. With the expansion of social media and access to a wealth of online information, B2B customers are able to discover a company’s reputation, its ability to execute, and the strength of its offerings before ever speaking with a sales professional. Research shows that, on average, B2B buyers are 75% complete with their assessments by the time they engage a prospective solution provider.
That means we are now living in the “Age of the Customer,” and the most successful companies practice genuine humility and deep customer listening. At Windstream, we’re also taking steps to help our customers drive a better customer experience for themselves.
We’ve done this with a two-fold approach. First, we implemented a sophisticated customer-listening platform that spans each transaction across the customer lifecycle, from initial contact through support. We then pair the customer feedback we receive with our operational data to create a holistic view of customer health, combining inside-out data with outside-in data.
At a micro level, trend analysis of this data illuminates any emerging issues, enabling us to adjust course swiftly – such as authorizing front-line employees to approve certain credit types immediately.
At a macro level, we employ Pareto analysis to uncover systemic issues. The Windstream Customer Experience team partners with the Sales and Operations functional units on larger projects to address macro-level opportunities, such as implementing a standard minimum communications cadence for higher quality, more consistent communication with our customers during specific phases of engagement.
All of this means that behind the scenes, customers can expect their engagement with Windstream to be driven by the following elements that help them participate in driving a more satisfying experience.
Disciplined Listening: The voice of the customer serves as our “true north.” In order to listen, we have implemented a consistent way to gather feedback, and a means to place the customer’s voice front-and-center. We chose a cloud-based software platform that presents survey invitations at key customer touchpoints along the engagement lifecycle. The data can be accessed by anyone at the company, and examined at the individual level, the director level, and by department. We publish this data in our monthly business review as a board-level Key Performance Indicator (KPI), alongside traditional success metrics that measure financial performance.
Analytics: A dedicated team takes in all of the data points and runs analytics (regression, Pareto, etc.) to extract actionable insights. This avoids having the volume of data and the number of opportunities become overwhelming, and keeps us focused on items with the greatest positive impact.
Programmatic Response: A dedicated team manages the macro-level and micro-level initiatives, and also partners with functional areas of our business to augment their resources to create and implement improvements.
Executive Governance: A customer-centric culture starts at the top, and must be championed in the C-Suite. Our executive team runs a governance process that ensures every department adheres to customer-centric metrics, inspects its performance against measures, and allocates resources to address opportunities for improvement.
Our pledge to our customers is that the quality of engagement will be measured not simply through customer retention or sales metrics, but by the degree to which those we serve enthusiastically embrace our services and our brand.
As it is all built on information supplied to us by our customers throughout the lifecycle, those who engage with us serve as a powerful marketing channel. We look forward to learning from you, and to partnering with you for the best possible customer experience.
Maria Marino has lead product and customer experience innovations for over 20 years. She was worked in both the U.S. and European markets in a variety of technology and communications firms including MCI, Level 3, CenturyLink and now Windstream. Her passion is customer centricity, and bringing the voice of the customer into the DNA of an organization. At Level 3, she launched the company’s first wholesale Internet offering and first VOIP services. At CenturyLink she ran Customer Experience for the Enterprise division, launching new tools for customer listening including customer communities, and introduced methods like customer journey mapping to drive product innovation and design, and the requisite support models. Maria uses a formula of primary research to drive a deep understanding of the customer and the job they are trying to get done, coupled with the operational design to deliver, to drive market differentiation. She is currently Vice President of Enterprise Customer Experience at Windstream.