Being a customer who has experienced both ends of the customer experience spectrum—exceptional and awful—I believe customer experience is an area most organizations are yet to maximize its full potential. I have a passion for enabling organizations to catalyze the adoption and usage of enhanced customer experience (traditional or digital) strategies which, in turn, deliver results and outcomes of compelling customer experiences, thereby maximizing ROI.
Interestingly, organizations focus on increasing ROI, productivity or increasing market share; those are worthy end goals; however, customer-focused organizations attain these goals by focusing on their customer’s—current and future needs. In achieving the value in maximizing the customer’s experience, the organization’s culture should align it. The question now is, what is customer experience, and how can it be integrated into an organization’s culture?
Customer experience is your customer’s overall relationship with your organization through communication, interactions, and transactions. It is also about how the customer feels about those experiences. In short, this is all about happier customers, committed employees and a brand that grows loyalty, revenue and profits. It is important to note that the customer experience journey begins with awareness, consideration, selection, purchase, satisfaction, commitment, and advocacy. The goal is to make your customers advocate for your brand.
Each unique interaction—touchpoint—whether in person, on the phone, online, via mobile et al., is pivotal in the customer’s journey; these will determine your customer’s loyalty to the brand.
Experience has shown that culture and customer experience are directly linked when it comes to organizational success. With this in mind, it is crucial to ensure that the key players, who are on the front lines providing services to the customer, needs to have the customer-centric culture ingrained in their professional DNA. Organizations need to get their employees obsessed about customer experience.
According to CEO Magazine, “Share earnings for companies with highly engaged employees are nearly 150% higher than for other companies.”
In creating a customer-centric culture, organizations have to start by creating a customer service vision, getting employees engaged and excited about a customer-centric culture, and align the organization around service.
First, The Organization’s Vision
Organizations need to guide employees with a vision that embodies customer service. Customer-centric strategies that align customer experience – meeting customer expectations with its core values and aligned its culture experience immense bottom-line results.
According to the Harvard Business Review, to successfully implement a customer-centric strategy and operating model, organizations must have a culture that aligns with them, and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mindset and values in their employees.
The challenge is that their customers or their employees are not experiencing these organizations’ core values, while some organizations do not even have defined core values. The organization’s core values may need to have a personal connection to your values that you want your customers and employees to perceive and experience in your organization.
When designing a vision for excellent customer service, many organizations downplay or deemphasize their employees’ needs as critical customer experience components. Organizations need to make sure they are clear and specific so that everyone is on the same page. As part of making the vision stick, post it everywhere, talk about them often, and encourage employees to commit theses values to memory.
Second, The Employees
When designing a vision for excellence in customer experience, many organizations downplay or deemphasize their employees’ needs as critical components achieving the end goal. Employees help drive the culture, so they need to understand the core values and exhibit them every day.
- Leverage employee’s insights into the ongoing improvement of the customer’s experience.
- Leaders need to hire for culture fit, which means hiring employees who embrace your customer-centric vision.
- Employees should be accountable for achieving the set business goals.
- Provide training to employees. Employees need knowledge and skills to know how to contribute to the culture of service.
- Employee empowerment is essential. Organizations must give employees the ability to fulfill the vision. It means enabling them to deliver services that are consistent with your customer service vision. Empower employees with resources, procedures, training and authority.
Based on a study conducted by Northwestern University, it states that “there is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.”
Overall, leaders must model the culture. They should drive the customer-centric vision and reinforce the service culture in everything they do to guide their behaviour, so they can model it for employees to emulate, from strategy to communication and execution.
Employees will tend to understand the importance of customer experience based on how often leaders discuss it, so leaders should make sure employees know service is important because they should portray it all the time.
Third, Focus on Meeting the Customer’s Expectation
Focus on understanding the customer needs you are trying to meet, and understanding precisely what your customers expect, how they want it delivered, and why they want it. To win, you need to offer services to the customers they do not even know they need yet, thus, creating a competitive edge.
Forth, Set SMART Goals
Goals are necessary signals to employees on areas of focus. These goals help employees understand how to prioritize their work and help track their performance against the vision. Many organizations use several metrics to evaluate customer service and overall performance. These metrics might include customer satisfaction, productivity, or even revenue.
To achieve the customer experience vision, organizations need to create strategies with the end goals in mind. These end goals need to be thoroughly taught-through and aligned with the organization’s vision. As part of the process, organizations also need to:
- Determine how they want their ideal customer to feel at the end of their transaction. For instance, some customers justify their purchases with logic, so organizations must determine how they want their customers to feel. The goal is to make every transaction (via any of the touchpoints) memorable. Most businesses miss this step when designing their customer experience.
- Determine what actions they want their customers to take. The customer experience received should be one that will make every customer be a repeat customer and take it further by referring friends and family or businesses in cases of business to business (B2B) transactions, thus, becoming advocates for your brand.
- Determine how they want their employee to feel at the end of every customer interaction—making employees fulfilled in their work and keeping employees motivated to deliver exceptional customer experience consistently—needs to be addressed.
Overall, take steps that ensure your employees feel acknowledged, cared for, and appreciated.
Lastly, Organizational Alignment
Use customer experience feedback and analytics to check for organizational alignment. Use various methods to collect and gather customer feedback. Also, gather feedback on employee overall satisfaction with the organization’s culture. Analyze the results, make continuous improvements, recalibrate and refine your strategy. The question is, how can you recalibrate and refine your customer experience strategy to align with your organization’s culture? The answer is to try having fun creating and innovating with your employees and making your customer experience, one that is memorable for your customers.
Organizations need to ask the question, how well are we delivering on the customer experience vision? The key to success is to review your answer and continue to innovate because building a customer-centric culture is a never-ending journey. It takes hard work, dedication, and a strong commitment from the organization. Most customer-centric organizations never lose focus; they make service culture a top priority every day.
When an organization’s vision, strategies and culture align with a focus on its customers, employees are engaged to deliver exceptional customer experience, leading to improved sales and productivity, thereby increasing the bottom-line.
Today, commit to continuously explore ways to improve your customer experience keeping in mind that the customer experience begins soon as a customer becomes aware of your brand, not just at the point of sale.
My inspiration to write this article came from the outstanding #Linkedin learning courses on #CX.