How customer centric is the Irish workforce?

Customer centric banner2

It’s all about customer experience these days. Companies large and small are proudly announcing that they are putting their customer first and are en route to customer centricity.

The arguments for delivering a strong customer experience are well known: the connected customer has more choice than ever and is acting on it; customers are taking control of the conversation about brands and their experience can amplify or ruin a reputation, build or decimate revenue.

The challenge is to move from talking about customer experience to actually improving it. In W5 we meet many organisations who want to create a customer centric culture and who know what they need to improve but are failing to do so.  We’ve found three main reasons for this:

  1. Lack of support from senior management
  2. Lack of alignment with the brand promise
  3. Lack of employee engagement

And it is this last reason that is so critical. If employees are not on board with what their company wants to achieve for its customers, there is little hope of delivering great customer experiences.

Customer centric infographic6

To better understand the attitudes and opinions of those working in Ireland to the customer experience agenda, W5 undertook an online poll, interviewing a nationally representative sample of 997 workers over a 5 day period in September 2016. Here’s what we found:

It’s a goal

Most employees agree that a positive customer experience is a primary goal of their organisation. 

Work to do on workers

A culture of customer experience may not be permeating all levels within organisations.  Awareness and belief in the customer experience agenda is much less developed amongst workers than management.

Size matters

The bigger the company the more levels of employee engagement wane. On almost all measures, companies with less than nine employees showed higher engagement.

Less public service

Public service workers are also much less likely to feel involved in a customer experience agenda.

More collaboration

Only 37% strongly agreed that employees effectively collaborate across departments to benefit customers.

A place to work?

Just one third would recommend their organisation as a place to work. The overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) across all employees was neutral or zero.  Those in higher managerial roles had a NPS of +31. For all other grades the NPS was in minus figures.

Yes to our product or service

Employees are more likely to recommend the products or services that they provide than not. 

Given that we are in the early stages of creating a customer experience culture in Ireland it is not that surprising to see these gaps. Critically, however, our survey also indicated that many employees feel excluded from being part of the solution to fill these gaps.

  • Only two in five employees are convinced that their ideas on how to improve the customers experience are encouraged. Again, those working in smaller companies (of less than 9 employees) and those in higher management/professionals more strongly believe that their suggestions are sought and welcomed.
  • 61% of employees claimed that their organisation collects feedback from their customers.  However, just one third of employees strongly agreed that feedback is effectively communicated throughout the organisation.
  • Less than 1 in 4 employees emphatically agreed that employees efforts in delivering great customer experiences were recognised or celebrated in their organisation.

Employees in Ireland have given their employers a ’Could do better’ with this research.  They are clearly aware of the customer experience agenda but are calling out to be more involved and engaged in conceiving and delivering great customer experiences.  This opens up a significant opportunity for employers. And if they are to seize the day in this regard, we’d make the following simple recommendations, based on our findings:

  • Make it easy for employees at every level within an organisation to understand and contribute to a customer experience management programme.
  • Communicate customer feedback, the good and the bad: use it to engage and motivate internal and external stakeholders and to inform decision-making.
  • Celebrate customer experience success: recognise who and what worked exceptionally well

Earlier this year, a study by the customer experience visionaries, the Tempkin Group, evidenced for the fifth time that those companies with more engaged employees enjoy stronger financial performances and deliver better customer experience than their peers. If Irish employers want thriving businesses and happy customers, they know what to do.

Clare Kavanagh
Managing Director, W5 (CCXP)

Article published Marketing.ie November 2016

Published: 23 Nov 2016

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