Customer support means something different today than it did 20 years ago. With the rise of “broad CX,” the customer experience is no longer a siloed part of business focused on reacting to customers’ problems.
Thanks to the scrappiness of successful startups, customer experience now requires an interdisciplinary approach. Accordingly, CX professionals wear many hats. They intersect with sales and marketing teams in curating a positive customer experience.
That’s what Freshworks‘ Colin Crowley has learned after working more than 15 years in customer engagement. Prior to joining Freshworks as a CX advisor, Crowley was assistant VP of Consumer Transactions at event ticket marketplace TicketNetwork, VP of CX at food tech company Freshly and senior VP of CX at fintech company Albert.
“CX professionals have a more intimate understanding of what customers need, and customers are getting a more thoughtful experience,” Crowley says.
As a result, it’s now common to see company executives and CEOs rise from the customer experience vertical.
On Dec. 8, Crowley hosted a webinar for Founders Network where provided trends in customer experience and strategies for building a positive customer experience for your company.
Customer Service vs. Broad CX
What comes to mind when you think of customer service? It’s likely a stock image of a nondescript professional sitting in a cubicle, wearing a headset and answering phones at a call center.
Prior to the rise of startups, that’s customer support entailed: responding to customer concerns or problems.
Customer experience was born of necessity. With the proliferation of startups in the 2010s, lean teams didn’t have many members, requiring customer support professionals to take on multiple roles, Crowley explains.
“There were fewer people to do things, so the role expanded,” he says.
That’s when the language describing the field changed, too. People in customer support roles were no longer only responsible for putting out fires. Rather, they broadened their focus to the various aspects of a customer’s interaction with a company – from purchasing a product to unboxing it to addressing any issues that arise.
What is “Broad CX”?
When you look at job descriptions for modern customer experience professionals, they require more than solving momentary complaints.
CX professionals are engaging in sales. They’re handling some of a company’s social media presence and working with other teams.
“They’re not just owning a segment of the business,” Crowley says. “You see that represented in the fact that you now have companies that, rather than hide customer service under marketing, give it its own vertical.”
This holistic approach to customer service means customers are getting a more seamless overall experience, whereas, in the past, it was disconnected.
“People cared about different experiences but didn’t see them as a concert of experiences that add up to a total customer experience,” Crowley says.
Tips for Building a Positive Customer Experience
Embracing broad CX in your business starts with broadening the scope and responsibilities of the person in charge of customer support, Crowley advises.
It also requires founders to define what quality means in the context of customer relations. That could mean developing a rubric or scorecard by which to grade employees’ interactions with customers. Maybe that involves using a customer’s first name or adjusting one’s tone to match the customer’s.
Crowley also suggests developing “Customer Principles” or rules of engagement with customers.
“That can get all teams on the same page about the type of experience you promise to your customers and realign operations and decision-making around supporting that promise,” Crowley says.
Whatever customer experience looks like for your company, it’s critical to start developing it early.
“A lot of teams don’t develop these processes until it’s too late. Trying to impose structure after the fact causes resentment,” Crowley says. “Add structure where you can early and often.”
In his webinar, Crowley covered:
- The Year of the Human
- From customer service to customer experience
- The rise of “broad CX”
- Renewed focus on agent and customer empowerment
- How to build a thoughtful customer experience