Building lasting customer relationships takes more than award-winning products and services. Understanding and addressing customer needs – especially when the business environment is difficult, changing and unpredictable – is fundamental. At CCC, the Customer Experience First program, or CX1 as it’s known internally, was established by CEO Tracey Armstrong over a year ago to strengthen the customer experience. We recently spoke with VP of Marketing, Stephanie Fox, about CX1 at CCC.

What can you tell us about the CX1 program?

SF: CX1, which stands for Customer Experience First, is a cross-functional internal CCC initiative that identifies and integrates best practice efforts to support a global, company-wide framework. The core idea is to do more of what we’re already doing well throughout the entire customer experience. We wanted to shine a brighter light on some of the outstanding examples of customer service and support, and in effect, use that collective goodness to level-up our customer experience across the board.

How did CX1 begin as an initiative at CCC?

SF: Our focus on the customer has always been the priority at CCC and that’s been evident in the feedback we get both anecdotally and in formal customer satisfaction research and Net Promoter Scores. The CX1 program was initiated by our CEO, Tracey Armstrong, who challenged us to take a more holistic view of our efforts based on the customer’s journey. The scores and research findings are helpful, and they continue to inform and guide us. But what a Customer Experience mindset adds to that data is the perspective from the outside in – what is it like to engage with us as a business? How can potential customers get value from us before or after they become a customer? How are we making it easier for our customers to get what they need from us when they need it? Are we taking steps out of the process of interacting with us? Those answers don’t always show up in satisfaction surveys.

So how did you tackle this?

SF: We focused our efforts around our RightFind customer as a starting point. RightFind is used by researchers in pharmaceutical, life science, chemical and financial services businesses to access subscribed content and internal data in an easy and copyright-compliant way. The CX1 team built a “customer journey map” that enables us to see, at a glance, all the points at which we were interacting with our customers throughout their journey with us. Shifting the lens to how the customer gathers information and makes decisions enables us to see where it’s seamless and easy and also where there are gaps.

How did the customer journey map inform next steps?

SF: First, we analyzed the various points of friction we had identified. We mapped out the impact on the customer for each potential point of friction. To validate our analysis, we reached out to some of our customers via phone interviews through a confidential third party who asked questions about navigating the entire multi-phase buyer journey with CCC. We heard both from relatively small organizations and large ones—all of them users of RightFind.

Mapping the customer journey and capturing our own perspective on it gave us an inside out view. Then the customer interviews provided an outside in view to validate and help us prioritize where to focus. It confirmed some things we already knew, but perhaps more significantly, it helped us see that some areas we ranked as high priority ranked lower in the minds of our customers.

Who is responsible for Customer Experience at CCC?

Customer Experience is owned by every one of us. That’s why we set up the CX1 program as a cross-functional initiative with colleagues from Marketing Communications, our Corporate Solutions business unit, Product Management, Customer Service, Client Engagement, and beyond. We all see the customer experience as a shared responsibility.

CCC, remember, is comprised of about 500 colleagues with dozens of products and services. it’s imperative that the importance of the customer experience is a shared mindset and commitment to the customer, rather than one team’s responsibility. We believe that everyone needs to embrace this approach and bring it to their entire practice.

With each new fiscal year, we will explore how best to ensure that the new understanding we’ve gained through the CX1 program makes its way throughout the entire CCC organization.

Wrapping up then: What would you say is the bottom-line business value for investing in a customer experience program?

SF: Investing in understanding and improving the customer experience is always a good idea. From RightFind to the Annual Copyright License to our RightsLink solutions and our Professional Services offerings, CCC has anticipated and addressed market needs.

By strengthening and renewing our focus on the customer experience, we’re making it easier for organizations not only to choose us in the beginning, but to stay with us, and also importantly, to recommend us to friends and colleagues. Investing in customer experience builds long-term relationships with customers — certainly critical to our ongoing success.

Author: Dave Davis

Dave Davis joined CCC in 1994 and currently serves as a research consultant. He previously held directorships in both public and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. He is the owner/operator of Pyegar Press, LLC.
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