Having the right technology is crucial for delivering a great customer experience.
But it’s only half of the equation. There are other factors which are just as important.
A big one is your team. They need to be motivated and happy – or the customer experience they deliver will decline, no matter how good your technology and operational processes are.
There are many reasons why your team members might not be motivated or able to deliver consistent and outstanding CX. It could be that the environment they work in, your team culture, or Customer Experience (CX) culture, is the underlying cause.
Does your operational reality match your corporate objectives?
Let’s start with your overarching CX focus.
Your management team may all be on board with a renewed CX focus because they know that CX has become THE market differentiator. They see the big picture and the long-term benefits that happy and satisfied customers bring to the bottom line.
You may have updated your Customer Service Vision, Mission Statement, Core Values, and objectives to focus on having a “customer centric” culture.
You may have invested in new technology, revised your KPIs, updated your policies and procedures, and implemented team training; all with the intention of improving CX.
Great! So how’s that working?
- How do the front-line staff feel – are they fully on board too and more productive and motivated than ever?
- How do your customers feel – has repeat business and loyalty improved? Are your CX scores better than ever?
- Have the KPIs improved – eg: Average Handling Times, Abandoned Calls, First Call Resolution, and all those other operational measurements?
If you can honestly answer yes to each of these questions, well done. That is a mighty achievement.
But, if you’re not there yet – then a gap analysis may pinpoint areas within your operations that are incongruent with your CX corporate objectives.
1. Is everyone clear on your CX strategy?
Your CX strategy, and the reason for it, needs to be understood by all team members. Your strategy will depend on your products/services types, customer needs, competitive positioning and value proposition. It has to make sense to them, or they won’t be committed and engaged.
- Harley-Davidson knows that community building is a key element of their customer experience strategy. New buyers are indoctrinated into H.O.G. (the Harley Owners Group) and is instrumental in the legendary loyalty that Harley owners show the Harley brand.
- The Zappos strategy, to combat competition from cheaper online competitors (including their owner Amazon) is to encourage human contact by inviting customers to call them – 24/7, and when they do, their teams have to “surprise and delight” above all else. This friendly human connection strategy is reflected in their sales, with 75% of Zappos purchases coming from returning customers.
- Internet Service Provider Primus recognised long ago that providing local customer support was going to be their differentiator. They have a Melbourne-based sales, service and technical support team, in contrast to most of their competitors who provide support offshore. Primus regularly tops customer satisfaction polls, and was by far the least complained-about service provider to the TIO.
2. Does everyone have CX guidelines?
What constitutes a minimum acceptable Customer Experience for your organisation?
Do you have tangible guidelines which spell out what your team members need to do, and what they should not be doing?
Your guidelines will be formulated around a number of factors, including customer needs, customer demographics, your objectives, your market positioning, and operational capabilities and limitations.
CX guidelines need to be developed for every customer touchpoint. Each team member should know exactly what they need to do to achieve the Vision and the strategy, understand the impact of their actions on CX and know the boundaries. It doesn’t matter if they are the receptionist, a customer service advisor, a sales person, an accounts receivable clerk, a web designer, the legal team or a delivery driver. Every one of them has an impact on the Customer Experience.
- Airlines who’ve purposely built a culture around Customer Experience, like Virgin and US carrier Southwest Airlines, are clear with their employees that while giving passengers a great customer experience is their big brand differentiator, it can’t have a negative impact on efficiency, turn time and safety. If it’s a passenger’s birthday, attendants might announce it or break out in song over the loudspeaker, but they wouldn’t present a cake with candles for obvious safety reasons, or throw streamers around that would be difficult to clean up between flights.
But it goes further than guidelines. Sometimes the CX Vision is unachievable because of company policies.
3. Do some of your policies and processes hinder CX?
Policies are designed to protect your business legally, operationally and sometimes for financial reasons. Unfortunately, sometimes the rules are created to protect the business from the 1% of bad customers, at the risk of upsetting the other 99% of good customers.
Some policies and procedures are just outdated, do not reflect modern operations or customer requirements, and hinder your team’s ability to deliver the CX promised in your Vision and Strategy.
- Australia Post identified that it was taking employees too long to complete customer change of address requests. An investigation revealed that the process involved 160 clicks to complete, so the form and process was redesigned to make it a lot simpler and faster to complete.
- Metro Bank in the UK has a “kill every stupid rule policy,” which encourages both employees and customers to look for “stupid rules” and recommend them for elimination.
- Zappos has thrown out legacy policies and introduced ones that are 100% favourable for customers. Customer service staff can spend as much time as they need to on helping customers – no AHT KPIs at all. Shipping and the shipping of returned goods is free, no matter how much (or little) a customer spends, and have a 365-day return policy. Staff are discouraged from upselling.
4. Do you micromanage or empower your team members?
Engaged and motivated team members are ones who have everything they need to do their jobs properly.
We have named this the minimum TASK requirement:
- Trained often so they can improve knowledge and skills
- Allowed to handle situations autonomously and make decisions to provide positive outcomes for customers (within reasonable guidelines)
- Supported with the right technology and information to maximise efficiency and deliver outstanding service
- Kept in the loop with other departments on anything that is likely to impact customers or their operational workflows, as well as being asked for their input for new initiatives.
Supported, empowered, trained team members are essential for making your envisioned customer culture a reality. There is nothing more frustrating for both a customer and an employee than having to put a conversation on hold to wait for manager input on how to proceed.
5. Are your KPIs aligned with your CX Vision?
Whilst operational KPIs are important, review them to see if they are at odds with your CX strategy and vision.
If your main focus is on achievement of a First Call Resolution rate of 85%, and an Average Handling Time of less than 7 minutes, you are forcing them to choose between the two goals. See our article How to Implement and Measure First Call Resolution Effectively for a more in-depth analysis of these KPIs.
We suggest giving customer focused metrics just as much importance as operational KPIs, and making it clear what the optimal balance between the two areas is. See How to Measure Customer Experience and Why You Should for a full discussion on the type of CX metrics to track. This will help you determine which metrics and KPIs are the most important for achieving your CX vision.
A CX vision will not be achieved without a CX culture
Developing a CX culture starts at the top, and is implemented by everyone.
It starts with designing your company from the customer’s perspective, not from your own operational requirements. They don’t care about your policies or limiting technology or budgets. They just want to be recognised and for you to know their history with you. They want you to solve their problem quickly and thoroughly, and they want you to make them feel valued. Treat customers how you would like to be treated.
Leaders who also make their team members feel valued and appreciated will enjoy a CX culture that is aligned with the corporate CX Vision.
Leaders who believe in a culture of constant improvement of product, service, and operations will succeed in delivering a better experience for every customer, and the ultimate goal – customer loyalty and advocacy.