Thursday 7th Mar 2019
Many businesses talk about the customer being at the centre of their thinking and behaviours and yet in answer to the simple question; is there a specific leader responsible for customer experience in your business, the response is often a resounding ‘NO’. Words and actions are often misaligned.
‘We need to look at our business through the eyes of our customer’ or ‘we need to place our customers at the heart of our business’ are often two statements that fall off the back of a ‘customer experience’ conversation or focus. But what do they actually mean, and more importantly, how can you make them a reality and not just lip service.
There is a massive philosophical shift happening in the way businesses around the world are having to think about how they acquire, maximise, and retain customers and it’s affecting your business right now. Where you have previously been able to focus your energies on building great products and services as a competitive advantage, taking your business to its full potential is going to require something quite different in the future.
For your people to deliver a truly exceptional experience for your customers you must actively build and create a culture and environment where the customer is the epicentre of how the entire business thinks, feels and acts. ‘Customer Service’ shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the whole business. As Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, puts it “Customers do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.”
There is a direct correlation between the consistency of your external customer experience and the quality of the interactions and engagement between colleagues, functions and departments. If you think about your colleagues as ‘internal customers’ and apply the same customer experience towards them, as you do an external customer, how would this impact not only what you do but how you do it?
If you want to provide world class external customer service experiences in your business, the starting point is providing great internal customer service experiences for your people, who in turn replicate this experience for their colleagues.
Think of this strategy as your customer value chain. You are only as strong as your weakest link! An internal culture of not returning calls, or taking ownership or being late or being sloppy will manifest itself into your external culture, with your customers. FACT.
Does your business regard your internal colleagues as customers, aiming to provide an internal level of service?
What percentage of your people would say they are responsible for the customer and the customer experience?
Service experience design is the mechanism for you and your business to design, build and focus on creating optimum service experiences. This requires a holistic view of your entire business and exploring every touch point that customers have with your business ensuring they are joined up, memorable and create true market leading differentiation.
Great businesses design and build their entire value proposition, systems and processes around the customer and frequently ask questions like ‘How easy are we to do business with?’. Unfortunately too many businesses fall into the trap of the polar opposite. They build technical solutions, products and services inside out without any due thought or consideration, input or testing with the real customer.
As you scale and grow your business you can very quickly end up with customer service and customer experience dilution.
Because when you’re ‘starting off’ with just a few employees and a small customer base, it’s easy to keep a hold on the needs and expectations of your customers. As the company grows, the number of employees and customers grow too, with more channels for interaction but also more room for error leading to a potential drop in your customer service and customer experience.
The growth of a company is necessary but in order to ensure service remains consistence, there must be a clearly defined customer experience design.
Define how you intend to treat your customers. Define your ‘ultimate customer service experience’ and use this to shape your service experience delivery. Don’t over complicate it and don’t add things which are not adding value. What do your customers want, care about and need?
Don’t over engineer your customer journey adding in costly processes and touch points which actually don’t ultimately add additional value in the minds of your customers. Be mindful in your service experience design that you do not fall into this trap!
Do you have a documented customer journey maps which create consistency in how you deliver the customer experience?
Do you factor in your cost to serve when designing your customer service processes and customer experience?
Service experience design (#2) is only 50% of a double edged sword. The other 50% is centred on your healthy obsession and unwavering focus on delivering consistent, flawless customer experiences through a discipline of ‘disciplined execution’. The Carl W. Buehner comes to mind here…“They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel”.
If you are truly serious about growing your business and creating differentiation from your competition, then one of your highest priority focus areas across your entire business growth strategy should be on creating, and consistently delivering a world class customer experience.
Pick half a dozen businesses who you really admire and think of as best in class for customer experience. Study not only what they are doing, but how they are doing it, then… audit your own business. Create a game changing plan for how quickly you are going to build a reputation as the best in class in your industry and sector when it comes to customer experience.
Any customer knows and appreciates that they are unlikely to get an immediate answer to a complex question. But they do expect it in a timely manner. Setting clear response timescales to customer queries, questions or complaints is just the beginning. From here you can build out into more in-depth service level agreements or customer charter which sets the standards for how you expect your customer experience to be delivered.
How good are you at delivering a great customer experience?
How do you know?
Customers tell family, friends and colleagues when they have received a great customer experience, but they tell 3X more people when they have a bad experience.
Measuring customer satisfaction is an integral part of any successful business. Without external customers, your business would have no revenue and no reason for being in business. You design products and services with the goal of pleasing these customers and meeting their needs. An important part of this is to solicit their opinions.
Review your system for measuring customer satisfaction. A laser beam focus on continuous improvement will always serve your business well. Being able to assess your business through an outside in lens will provide a vast array of insight.
How do you measure customer satisfaction?
What are the results telling you?
Customers are more informed, more educated, and have more choice than ever before. How are you establishing your business as the true partner of choice for your customers?
Yes, count me in!
Complete your customer experience audit and receive a comprehensive report with actionable insights immediately.
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If customer experience is your pain point then go ahead and choose the customer experience assessment. It will take about 20 minutes to complete and in return you’ll have an in-depth report on the focus areas you need to prioritise in order to become a stager of great customer experiences.
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