CMX Blog

How to apply Customer Experience (CX) and stand out from the crowd

April 11, 2022

I recently had a discussion with Ethan Beute on The Customer Experience Podcast, where I talked about all things CX and the many ways in which ActivityStudio® has helped brands to improve their operations, train their employees, and differentiate their services.

Listen to the full interview on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon

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As you know, the Foodservice and Hospitality industries are highly competitive and face many challenges — operational complexity, high employee turnover, and razor-thin profit margins. To stay ahead in today’s world, businesses of all types must differentiate themselves. But how do they do this?

Whether it’s through employee training, product innovation, marketing, loyalty programs, or the like, at the end of the day, it all boils down to customer experience (CX).

If you don't have time to listen to the podcast, this article summarizes many of the topics and discussions we hit on. It provides a summary of what we think of as CX, what it entails, why it’s essential, and how to make it excellent.

 

Customer Experience is the total package

As a consumer, when you think about iconic brands — what comes to mind? It goes without saying that good food (or product, or service) is a must, but what makes them special? For most people, it's the complete experience, including every touchpoint and interaction with the brand along the way.

So as a brand, whether you’re selling a product or offering a service, your goal should be to make the customer’s life easier and make them happy at each step. And that starts with the first engagement, all the way through the selling process, to post-sale — you want to come alongside your customer and improve their whole experience. 

People want to feel appreciated as customers. They want to feel like they are part of a community. They want to have an affinity with the brands they do business with. 

So how do the best brands do it? Well, it starts with transparency and empowering employees, which also has a lot to do with technology.

 

A trustworthy brand leads to happier customers

Building and maintaining trust with your customers is hard work. Whether you are interacting with customers in an analog or digital way, in today’s interconnected world, people are hyper-aware of brands and their standards and practices. 

As an example, we are seeing the increasing importance of transparency, ESG, and CSR to consumers. People want to know who they’re doing business with. This is where trust becomes a really big thing. And this is also at the heart of customer experience, namely, can I trust the brand I am purchasing from?

It's also about the experience. What does it feel like to be your customer? What is the experience of the consumer when they walk into one of your locations, day in and day out? 

These are essential questions that help us understand CX from the customer's perspective.

In today’s competitive market, the way brands differentiate themselves is really around the entire experience. So let’s delve a bit deeper into how you create and deliver exceptional CX.

 

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Empowering employees using the right tools 

The biggest brands in the restaurant and hospitality industries will tell you that their employees are the ones that make the difference. So, a major part of your focus should be on your employees: giving them really clear instructions, what you expect from them, and how best to perform their function

Essentially, it's about equipping them with whatever they need to take your product to market—from supply chain through to operational execution in your locations.

How are guests greeted? How do you serve the food? How do you package it? How do you prepare it? Can you implement excellence from food safety all the way through to cleanliness and environment? 

More importantly, can you implement this at all your locations, so that a guest receives the same quality experience no matter when or where they visit?

Chick-fil-A is a great example of this. Most people recognize their great and consistent service, no matter the location.

So, how do you do this? How do you get hundreds of locations to operate the same way, day in and day out so that a guest always receives the same experience? 

The answer: You need to have operational execution, as well as consistency, and you need to leverage technology.

 

Technology—the key to consistent and extraordinary CX

Technology is the one component that truly helps you to communicate with employees, and continually monitor the consistency, safety, and quality of the products that you’re sourcing and serving, as well as day-to-day operations within your restaurants, hotels, or stores.

Many brands are still using pen-and-paper-based or Excel checklists, which really costs them in terms of visibility — i.e, what's really happening in their locations, and in real-time.

What if something does go wrong? From a process and procedure standpoint, was it done right? And if not, how do you correct that and ensure it gets done the right way the next time? And more importantly, how quickly can you recognize the problem, and ultimately, how quickly can you fix it?

Practically speaking, some examples of this include integrating things like IoT devices and sensor networks, so you can monitor the temperature of a freezer or a fryer. From a food safety, and process and procedure standpoint, you need to break down all the things needed in order to run a great restaurant and a great experience.

The right technology is about having a great performance management and task management system that enables you to deliver a great customer experience within the four walls of your locations. - each and every day, each and every time.

 

Take it one step at a time

With so many things that go on in day-to-day operations, thinking of digitizing all your processes can be daunting. But it shouldn’t be. Here at CMX, we’ve worked with a lot of customers on this journey by taking it one step at a time.

Oftentimes, new customers want to digitize their programs but don’t know where to start, or to what extent they should do it. So, what that means for us is starting with the forms you have, breaking them down into sections, questions, and related activities.

Then, we work through who's performing the activities, the frequency, scheduling, and breaking things up into dayparts. And also by focusing on the equipment and areas that are in the environment to build out automated programs.

The best place to start is by “measuring what matters” by starting with what's most important.

So, whatever is most impactful and critical to your business, start measuring it (we can help!). You have to think of how you will use this information as live ongoing feedback to continually improve and enhance your CX. Your automated programs should be measuring this information in a proactive and prescriptive manner. Reactive and punitive is the wrong approach.

 

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For many of our customers, the process of digitizing usually starts with one or two activities they really want to nail and scale. And this is great because it's about starting simple—e.g., with very simple checklists. Then, as you grow and scale, you can eventually go up to even include really in-depth, complex, multi-day, multi-department audits.

This is what’s exciting about a modular type of digital platform. You don't have to run, you can just walk first. You start with only using what you need. And this is exactly what the CMX ActivityStudio platform does: it’s designed to help a brand get up and running on at least one or two activities and to get those rolled out to all their locations.

"The great thing about CMX1 is that our platform is built for self-service so that people can build their own activities. Creativity seems to be your only limit, and customers have used the platform for anything, from construction punch lists to damage assessment reports that help insurance claims.

And what’s even better than having a highly flexible and dynamic platform, is to have it either web-based, or on a mobile device as a native app. This means changes are updated on the fly, and people across dozens or hundreds, or even thousands, of locations receive real-time feedback.

Such a platform should also be able to be viewed in specific ways by specific people. For example, being able to define things for certain people, for certain equipment, for certain times of the day. The right people should be doing the right things at the right time, and doing it in a consistent way."

And part of creating a consistent CX is about having a technology that can embed training material, such as videos and pictures, or other media, and tailor it for specific roles.

An employee who’s unsure of how to do something can quickly look up the solution by accessing all relevant training materials (like videos and instructions). By putting instructions right there in their hands, in real-time, you can leverage technology and empower employees to go out and deliver a great customer experience. That is because they have a very clear idea of what to do and how to do a good job.

A final, and crucial aspect of continually enhancing CX is the collecting of data across all your locations. This gives you better insights as to what's working and what’s not, and where are adjustments needed. It’s about getting better information to make better decisions—and to do it quickly. And it’s also about prioritizing so that you specify reaction times. For example, a food safety temperature check that fails requires immediate attention.

In the end, digital technology should be used as a continuous improvement tool. It should encourage people to be better, and do better in their roles. 

When that happens, you are on your way to creating an excellent, and long-lasting, CX.

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This article is based on a recent podcast discussion between Ethan Beute from BombBomb and Jim Hardeman, Chief Marketing Officer at CMX. Jim has 20+ years of experience in technology and product management.

Listen to the full interview on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon

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