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 “Every employee can affect your company’s brand, not just the front-line employees that are paid to talk to your customers.” ~ Tony Hsieh

A Gartner Research survey found that by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (compared to just 36% in 2010). While many organizations align customer experience directly with marketing, to win in this category, it takes an all hands, top to bottom effort from every employee.

In the customer experience competition, many brands have centered their investments and their playbook around personalization, customized offers and building relationships, but a recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report shows these things don’t necessarily create a customer experience fan. In the survey of more than 2,000 global consumers, when asked which elements were the most important in an ideal customer experience, respondents listed fast response to inquiries or complaints (47%) as their top choice, with personalization (12%), relationship building (10%) and customized offers based on preferences (7%) all landing near the bottom.

The respondents’ listing of the most annoying aspects of a negative customer experience reflected a similar view, with slow responses to inquiries and complaints (38%) and inaccurate or misleading information about the product (35%) topping the lists of turn-offs.

Getting Back to Basics

From this consumer feedback it seems most brands need to master the basics before they move on to items like personalization, customization and relationship building. The place to start? Internal knowledge.

An internal knowledge source that empowers every employee to serve the customer and deliver on the customer experience may seem like a no brainer, but this simple foundation be more elusive than most think. According to IDC’s Unlocking the Hidden Value of information Survey, 44% of the time, employees can’t find the answers they’re looking for, and 61% currently have to access four or more systems when looking for information. It’s easy to envision how this internal customer experience is impacting the external one.

Senior executives do seem aware of this fundamental stumbling block, however. In an accompanying EIU report that surveyed approximately 500 senior executives on their strategy for improving the customer experience, the top response was “we believe that it is important that our message to customers remains consistent at every stage of the relationship.”

What’s holding the brands and organizations these executives work for back? When asked about the key obstacles that stand in the way of improving their organization’s customer experience, the top two responses were silos within the organization and lack of integrated information systems.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page

With 89% of companies planning to compete on customer experience, getting everybody on the same page to be able to respond quickly and accurately to the customer should be a top priority for today, 2016 and beyond. While many competitors will talk the customer experience talk, the winners will walk the customer experience walk.

Interested in learning more about empowering and engaging employees with knowledge? Hear more in the December 15th webinar featuring Microsoft General Manager of Service Engagement Bill Patterson and industry analyst Esteban Kolsky. Register here.

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Take This Knowledge Survey, Get the Knowledge Report

Want to learn more about how knowledge affects customer service, the customer experience and your entire organization? Take this survey being conducted by industry analyst Esteban Kolsky and you’ll receive a copy of the results and report to help you and your organization with benchmarking, budgeting and creating a knowledgeable strategy around one of the most important cornerstones in the customer experience.

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