Henry Ford famously said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages, employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” In other words (and at the risk of stating the obvious), without customers you have nothing.
Yet frankly, we all know we have some work to do to improve our customers’ experiences, even here at Sentry. Feedback from third-party data and our own internal surveys, suggests that we have an opportunity to be better.
A little over a year ago, we undertook a mission: create a customer journey map, a comprehensive visual overview of how customers interact with and experience Sentry across multiple points of contact, especially our product and internal business areas. It traces a customer’s journey with us from implementation and go-live through elements like our training program, educational events, webinars, and audit and compliance support.
By translating into visual form the thoughts, actions and emotions our customers experience, a customer journey map helps our teams better understand the big picture and their place in it. It aligns our focus on being customer centric, and really understanding our customers so we can better identify the difficulties and challenges they may experience.
Opportunities to improve
We began by interviewing key people from across the organization to get their perspectives on the challenges or issues from where they sat in the organization.
The goal was to increase awareness internally of how individual contributors work together and fit into the broader company as it relates to the customer experience, so we could better understand our customers’ motivations, drivers and challenges. Then, we could identify opportunities for collaboration across our business, clarify ownership of key responsibilities, and identify areas of the company where information or processes had become siloed.
Initially, some were hesitant, fearful of having their dirty laundry exposed for all to see. But once the conversations started, most realized that, rather than being a “gotcha” exercise, the process represented an enormous opportunity for improvement. So they began speaking candidly about where they saw opportunities to improve customer experience.
The process was highly illuminating.
We found that we needed to help our employees better understand our customers’ end-to-end journey with us. Many employees knew how to do their own jobs but were less aware of their connections to other areas or how our products work. They needed to strengthen their awareness of what happens in all departments to ensure a successful customer experience.
Then, we compared what we learned with the data and feedback we regularly glean from customers. For example, customers felt overwhelmed with information from us and were looking for more simplified experiences. They also felt like they were dealing with separate companies, not merely different departments, because many employees were using different meeting agendas and document templates when interacting with customers. And when customers filed support cases over time, each was assigned to different people at Sentry, rather than to someone who was familiar with their recent history. It was a missed opportunity to develop personal relationships.
Since identifying a list of gaps in the customer journey, we’re proud to say we’ve instituted nearly two dozen process improvements to make our customers’ interactions with us easier and more positive. For example, we’ve established standing monthly meetings between customers and their account managers, and incorporated user guides and other helpful resources that pop up when customers are using Sentry applications.
We review each project with a multi-disciplinary team, keeping in mind deliverables such as warranty periods and quality assurance checks, so there is a more comprehensive understanding of each customer and the anticipated outcomes. We agree on and solidify expectations for the departmental teams before we introduce the customer to their new Sentry support team.
We know we can achieve a high level of success through frequent communication with customers. Aligning communications with our customer experience strategy increases our ability to exceed our customers’ expectations for seamless integration and support.
There are signs the changes are paying off. It’s reflected in our performance in the 2022 Best in KLAS Report, where we notched improvements in 17 of 20 benchmarks and grew our overall score by six points. Our Net Promoter Score, a measure of how likely customers would be to recommend Sentry to others, has risen by 23 points year over year.
At the same time, we know that an excellent customer experience never sleeps. As always, we welcome your feedback. Tell us how we’re doing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.