Q&A with Annette Franz

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What excites you about customer experience?

Helping companies understand customers and their journeys – and translating that into great experiences that keep customers coming back. It’s as much about the success for the customer in trying to do what it is that they are trying to do as it is about the success of the company itself.

When did you first get involved in customer experience management?

I’ve been working in this customer experience space for over 20 years, having started my career at J.D. Power and Associates in the early 1990s. I didn’t originally set out on my career path with a mission to improve the customer experience, but I’m happy that that’s the field in which I’ve landed. I’ve been working on the vendor side of the business since then – except for a year-long stint working at Mattel – both working with clients to listen to the voice of the customer and to transform the voice into action and improvement as well as leading and developing teams of consultants to do the same. I’m currently Director of Customer Experience Management for Confirmit, a role that has me wearing many hats, including consulting, developing the strategy and methodology that our consultants use when working with clients, and running our own customer experience initiative.

In 2011, I started my blog, CX Journey™, as a way to share my learnings and experiences from the last 20+ years – and to continue the crusade to educate others about the importance of the employee experience and the customer experience to the success of a business.

Why do you feel it’s important to contribute to InsideCXM?

It’s tough to carry out that crusade within a single avenue, i.e., my blog. Any vehicle to get the word out about the importance of the employee experience and the customer experience is a good thing. Being a part of a larger site that brings together customer experience thought leaders who write about distinct yet focused concepts around customer experience management is an honor.

What do you see as the next big trend in customer experience management for 2014?

I think there are two main areas of focus for 2014. The first one is customer and employee journey mapping. This isn’t necessarily a new “trend,” but it is finally earning some recognition in the world of customer experience as a valuable tool to ensure that the entire organization understands the customer and his journey to do whatever it is that he’s trying to do with your company.

The second area of focus, I believe, will be the omnichannel experience. I hesitate a little when I say this because there are so many other little things that need to be done right before an organization can truly achieve a great omnichannel experience. I think it will move from buzzword to reality as the year progresses.

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer to companies looking to optimize customer experience?

The customer experience – and your efforts toward improving the customer experience – are ever-evolving journeys. Stay the course. Stay focused.

And don’t forget the employee experience. Your employees are the ones who need to deliver that great experience. Take care of them. Put them more first.

Tell us about your favorite customer experience.

Any time that a company demonstrates that it truly cares about its customers is a great experience to me. About a year ago, I was in an accident, and AAA SoCal handled my claim and the experience in just that manner.

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