How to be small but mighty in delivering on customer experience
Recognise this scenario? You’re part of a small customer experience team charged with moving the customer centricity dial positively. Your CEO is a recently converted customer experience champion who now wants you to strengthen the mind-set and behaviour of customer-facing staff as a priority and, in fact, engage all staff in creating a customer-centric culture. You’re wondering: how can one small department influence the whole organisation? We suggest you focus your efforts on getting these five things right.
- Understand your customer
Yes. It really is that basic. Start by getting to know your customer: who are they, what they want or need (from an emotional and functional point of view) throughout their journey with you. Use voice of the customer intelligence to identify what is important for customers and why.
- Understand your brand
This too may seem blindingly obvious, but don't be so blind as to overlook it. Good customer experience is essentially an organisation’s brand promise in action. It is the delivery of your brand on the ground, in real time, to customers. To do it well, everyone in your organisation needs to truly understand the brand and be motivated to bring it to life in their engagement with customers. Exploring the lived (as opposed to espoused) experience of your company or business’s brand values is always an easy and engaging way to ensure understanding of and commitment to your brand.
- Create customer experience principles
Once you know what customers want and what your brand stands for, it’s time to work with the leadership team in your organisation to create customer experience principles which will direct the work of employees to provide a winning customer experience everytime. Clearly communicated these principles will provide a framework to ensure customer experience deliverability.
- Transform principles to behaviours
Ultimately, however, we want principles to become our culture, simply, ‘the way we do things around here for customers’. Principles need to be transformed into attitudes and behaviours within each functional area and within each job specification. It’s best to work together to explore and define what principles mean in practice for your business.
- Partner with HR
To sustain good intentions and embed best practice, we strongly recommend you partner closely with HR. Agreed customer-centric attitudes and behaviours should be knitted into the selection considerations as well as performance management processes with employees rewarded for adopting and delivering your new practices.
None of these five actions is particularly complex. Admittedly, they take time, consideration, commitment and application. And as recent research by Matthew Dixon (of The Effortless Experience) and others has shown, loyalty is a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic promises rather than how dazzling the customer service experience might be. So, great customer experience doesn't have to be fancy – simple and authentic works best.
It is also empowering. Customer experience principles, defined and shared as above, allow employees much more autonomy. This is always motivating for employees who may feel they are increasingly held back by or drowning in rules and regulations. As legendary leader Herb Kelleher of South West Airlines says:
‘If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done, and they do it.’
Your customer experience department may be small, but with the right focus, it can be mighty. You can lead the way in can lead the way in creating an environment, born of knowledge, understanding and participation, that actively and authentically puts the customer first.
Remember … if you think you are too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.
Managing Director, W5 (CCXP)
Article published Marketing.ie April 2016
Published: 30 Mar 2017