The demands being made on customer services in this ever changing world of multi-channel, multi-touch point, social media and mobility, may be a moving target, but here are 6 actions to put you in with a chance of creating a lasting, customer centric organization!
1. LEADERSHIP: Appoint a Customer Experience (CE) VP as a leader with objectives, measures, budget and resources to execute a strategy across all channels. One of the toughest aspects of delivering a consistent message is having sponsorship, drive, direction, purpose and energy throughout the organization. It starts at the top. If you have a leader who walks the talk and sets an example, others will follow. They need a clear unambiguous mandate. They need responsibility and accountability. Like the captain of a ship, they set the course and support their crew to sail safely to the destination. Appointing a leader of Customer Experience provides a focal point around which your strategy can be designed and executed.
2. ENGAGEMENT: Involve colleagues at all levels in CE development across all channels, especially those in the front line. With the emergence of social media channels, mobility and ever more sophisticated self service its time to look within for some solutions because, believe it or not, there are very few real experts out there – it’s all changing so fast! Your colleagues are as well qualified as any consultant to offer their take on how customers prefer to use different channels and touch points. We have seen several large organisations engage their front line staff to determine what customer preferences and behaviours are, how best these can be served and then designing the customer experience response that the organisation delivers. This not only makes perfect sense, it’s also far cheaper than employing expensive consultants. Having said that, you might want to ask your friendly CE consultant to help structure and drive the dialogue!
3. MEASUREMENT: Create one measure and a closed loop process for capturing and acting on customer feedback through all touch points. Measuring customer satisfaction is quite addictive. Organisations often over-survey or ask satisfaction questions at the wrong time in the wrong way. How many times have you ignored a feedback form in a restaurant or at the end of a web transaction, simply because there were too many questions or you believed you’d gain nothing back as a result? By far and away the most effective forms of customer satisfaction tracking are the ones that keep it simple – no more than 3 or 4 questions, solicit verbatim comments and get acted upon, to the extent that if a customer leaves a complaint or negative comment, the organisation gets back to them within 24 hours. The other great advantage about a closed loop process is that it creates a ‘learning’ organisation, one which is continually improving and adapting based on what customers say they want and need. Those who’ve worked in this area will know that Net Promoter Score ticks all the boxes, but that doesn’t mean there are not other measures. Indeed, many b2b organisations will have their own mechanisms for achieving the same thing. The advantage with NPS is of course that it’s easier to benchmark, and there is a proven link between high scores, loyal customers and thus profitable relationships.
4. TECHNOLOGY: Create an integrated technology platform which connects all customer contact channels, allowing customers and colleagues to navigate seamlessly. The bigger the organisation, the harder this action seems to be – simply because of the confederated nature of IT systems and the legacy that most big firms carry around with them. However, with the advent of Cloud technology solutions, this may not be quite so out of reach after all. Consumption-based pricing, better security and resilience means its now possible to convince IT this might be a good route to go down to achieve the integration and functionality needed across customer services. As a first step we suggest you look at your current architecture and touch points, identify some quick wins and base the roadmap on proven success with the first one or two quick wins.
5. REWARD: Recognise and Reward colleagues based on achievement of customer experience goals and targets. So simple to say and yet so hard to do consistently well for many organisations. And in organisations who’ve adopted a fully multi-channel model, it seems rewarding based on delivering a Wow Customer Experience is actually quite difficult – particularly if there is no way of capturing positive and as well negative customer feedback in a consistent, systematic and actionable way (see 3 above). Successful organisations following a CE agenda recognize and celebrate achievements big and small – every day – and make sure this is seen and heard throughout the organisation. In a recent survey amongst our own staff, ‘Being recognized for their contribution’ scored higher as a work motivator than salary.
6. CULTURE: Adopt an ethos and culture of continual improvement: CE is never ‘done’ – its always work in progress. One of the most common reasons for failure in CE initiatives is burn-out, by which we mean there isn’t sufficient underlying momentum and energy to sustain a continual focus on customer experience. It’s indicative of a lack of ingrained culture, brand or ethos. A customer centric approach has to become part of the DNA of an organisation and be something everyone identifies and relates to. It’s the NASA cleaner example: when asked what the cleaner did at NASA he replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” If your organisation doesn’t embody all the traits of an organisation that puts customers at the heart of everything, it can be a long process. And going back to point number 1, appointing a senior level VP of Customer Experience will accelerate the process, because customer centricity should be one of their principle measures.
This is by no means a comprehensive check-list for creating profitable, customer relationships in a multi-channel world, but all six are found in customer centric organisations we’ve worked with over the last 30 years. For some it might also act as a check list to ensure the CE programmes you’re undertaking are focused on the vital few things that will truly make a difference.
Silah Gulf (Silah), is a premium, multi-award winning customer experience solutions provider headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain with operations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
We integrate our Outsourcing Operations, Consultancy, Academy and Technology platforms to deliver immediate results and create exceptional customer experiences for our clients.