“We are committed to providing a fantastic customer experience.”
“Customer service is what we do.”
“We strive towards customer excellence.”
“Customers are at the heart of what we do.”
In today’s business world it is increasingly common to hear company executives utter these phrases and use these buzz words to demonstrate their commitment to an enhanced customer experience. But how much of the rhetoric is meaningful? Are you really focused on meeting your customers’ needs? So, ask yourself are you really customer focused?
Here is what not to do if you want to be a truly customer-centric organisation!
You don’t have a customer experience (CX) strategy
Sometimes people in organisations become so consumed with the day to day routines, that they often lose sight of what drives customer delight. Yes, I say delight because satisfaction is never good enough. Yes, your core service must deliver on customer expectations, but what are the other value-added benefits you could introduce? In many companies, senior managers often become preoccupied with their day to day tactical requirements without focusing on the conclusive winning strategy – that of the customer. Consequently, new initiatives which would enhance customer convenience are avoided, simply because the focus is heavily concentrated on the existing workload. One way of avoiding this is to make customer experience a major component of your company’s strategy. What does this mean? It means that almost every high-level decision must be taken into consideration with a single focus on how it will ultimately drive customer delight.
Nowadays, customer experience strategy employs a much broader perspective than customer service. With a customer experience strategy an organisation is keenly aware of all interactions and experiences customers have throughout their business. This ranges from online as well as physical experiences and is sometimes referred to as customer journeys. Any customer experience strategy is also careful to note the emotions that are created for the customer along those journeys. For instance, is dealing with the cashier a long and painful process or am I happy when I receive a thank you note when I am onboarded? Customer experience strategy carefully focuses on the customer value equation and ensures that key emphasis is placed on onboarding, retention, customer service and efficiency initiatives.
What many people often miss is that the CEO must be the ultimate customer experience champion. Your customer experience strategy though executed day to day by a CX professional has to be clearly endorsed and driven by the CEO. One of the more popular CX industry stories is about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. Amazon insiders often recount that in the early years of Amazon, Jeff Bezos would bring an empty chair into the meetings to represent the most important person in the room, the customer !
You are content with customer satisfaction and not focused on the WOW
Many executives when they review their customer feedback research erroneously bask in a false sense of contentment when customer satisfaction scores are high. But true customer retention doesn’t come from satisfaction, as I always say it comes from bringing on the wow. That Wow measurement is often reflected in your Net Promoter Score, a key gauge for customer experience. The ability to delight or WOW your customers is what makes all the difference. The WOW experience will be what keeps customers coming back, recommending relatives and friends and in general drive your business upward. Delivering Wow service is a concerted effort to surpass a customer’s expectations and deliver more than they anticipated . A classic local example of this is Quality Tyre. Who would expect that a tyre repair shop would serve some of the best coffee and cookies around ? That you could sit in air-conditioned comfort whilst waiting to have your trye fixed? Who would have thought on a busy street in Bridgetown all you would need to do is pull up outside and hand over your keys? Everyone’s expectation of a tyre repair shop is that it would be dirty, grimy and a place no well-dressed woman would want to be. Not with Quality Trye – changing a tyre can be quite a relaxing time !
Ignoring Customer feedback and not incorporating it into your customer experience.
Your customers are talking to you – but are you really listening? Are you taking customer feedback seriously? Are you using their suggestions and complaints to drive improvements in the business? Do you really know their preferences from what time of day they conduct business, to how they like to receive their correspondence and even to what type of coffee they like? You should have a deep knowledge of your customer behaviours and patterns because this factors heavily into the type of experience you should be creating. Some years ago, I had an encounter with a longstanding customer. Over the years, she often requested a duplicate of a document because she was always fearful of losing it. So upon seeing her we knew that this is what we had to do and we were quite proud to present it to her before she requested it ! At the end of the transaction, we were sure we had surpassed all of her needs, until she looked at us and said that we had run out of her favourite type of coffee and that she looks forward to coming every month and sitting to enjoy that particular flavor! It may seem trivial to some, but in doing business with us she had incorporated her own ritual which enhanced her experience! And by not having her favourite coffee, we had not made the experience as pleasant as could be!
Not empowering your team and ignoring your customer service champions
Without a doubt, superior customer experience is provided by engaged and happy employees. These employees who strongly believe that they are empowered to effect positive outcomes for their customers. The Ritz-Carlton has for many years given staff $2,000 of discretion to be used to solve any customer complaint in the manner the employee feels is appropriate. Whilst that may be out of reach for many businesses, you should ask yourself do my team members have to refer every customer-related decision to management for approval or feedback? And finally, but most importantly do you reward your customer service champions ? When people exhibit positive behaviours are they recognized and rewarded? Very often empowered employees go the extra mile and rewarding such behaviour often makes it intuitive.
So by now you should know what a customer focused organisation looks like. Do you think your organisation is displaying the characteristics? Have an honest reflection or contact a Customer Experience professional to undertake a Customer Experience audit for you. You may be surprised at what you find.