Customer experience is out of a brand's hands, claims HP chief

HP global head of innovation and customer strategies shares why customer relationships are no longer about linear engagements but annexing your brand to a customer's own purchase cycle and engagement preferences

Customer relationships are no longer linear engagements but a series of events often outside the brand’s control which they must become involved in proactively, HP’s global customer strategy leader claims.

Speaking during the Farewell to Campaigns: The future of the customer experience, webinar moderated by CMO Council, HP global head of innovation and customer strategies, JC Quintana, explained the technology vendor has been going through a transformation journey of its own as it strives to be a more customer-centric organisation.

One of the first steps was recognising not only that customer relationships come first, but that these relationships are based on a series of interactions and engagements across multiple channels and the entire purchasing cycle.

Quintana agreed customer experience determines loyalty as well as brand recognition, and is a significant factor in whether customers stay with a brand, abandon it, or refer it.

“We need to be mindful of how we address whether we’re meeting the needs of the customer, what type of effort it requires, and what type of emotional connection they have with us,” he said.

“We assess these factors from the beginning as we work out the ideal customers, the channels we use to engage with those folks, the personalisation of environments, and also meeting the promises we made to customers. It’s about service and transparency.”

Much like the personal relationships we all form, the strength of a brand’s connection with a customer and the trust they need to build to a sustain and long-term bond comes down to the balance of cost, reward and risk, Quintana continued.

“No matter what relationship you have, there are very important places of interaction in which either or both parties have to decide if they want the relationship to end. How we manage significant events that will see us rise or fall,” he said.

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As part of its “ecosystem of strategies for customer engagement”, Quintana said HP is offering internal training on customer experience championed by company president, Meg Whitman. The online-based training program has been developed in-house and is offered in management and employee modules. This is followed up with further discussions at a brand and product level.

Quintana said it was vital that awareness of the importance of customer experience comes from the very top of an organisation.

“We’re seeing CMOs take more of the leadership role over customer experience, but this must be a shared role across the c-level of the company,” he claimed. At HP, the responsibility for overseeing key customer experience metrics, such as the Net Promoter Score, as well as the promotion of customer experience best practices, is then led by its chief quality officer.

Other key components of HP’s customer-first strategy include driving innovation by leveraging social, mobility, data and analytics and cloud technologies, better mapping and understanding the customer journey, driving omni-channel, transparent brand interactions, and sharing best practices internally as well as with partners.

“Customers have evolved and it has motivated us to annex the company to their journey,” Quintana added. “While we want everyone in the world to be an HP customer, customers make decisions for their own reasons.

“We’re going out to where customers are talking, engaging them in conversation, and ensuring we can improve execution and decrease complexity because that’s what will lead to a positive relationship with HP.”

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