For many companies, one common assumption is that the burden of the customer experience falls solely on the customer service representative. While they are the ones most likely directly interfacing with the customer, the truth of the matter is that attention to the customer experience needs to be fluid throughout the entire company hierarchy: from C-level executives to the employee at the front desk.
Why is a collaborative effort so important in customer service? Well, pick a statistic. Helpscout compiled a list of 75 meaningful customer service stats detailing the importance of CX. They found that almost 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. This creates loyal customers, and loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. In addition, they can provide free advertising via recommendations and review.
Customer service is quickly becoming the number one differentiator in today’s competitive market. Uniform dedication to the customer experience from top to bottom is key in meeting (and exceeding) customer expectations.
Starts at the Top
As with any good company, strong leadership is the lynchpin in implementing change within a company, especially changes in customer experience. First and foremost, they are responsible for delivering the vision and mission statements for the company, so they need to make sure customer service is a top priority. Leadership is directly related to organizational performance, mainly because they establish the company goals; however, a study found that only 18% of organizations say their leaders are ‘very effective’ at meeting business goals.
Without a clear direction from the top, it’s easy for the customer experience to be inconsistent throughout the company. Perhaps even more importantly, leaders serve as models within their company. If they are setting a poor example of the expectation of service, then it’s hard to motivate others.
Take it from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who said “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Once a clear standard has been set by the top, the next task is making sure the other ‘levels’ of a company follow through in a similar fashion. CX, in short, is every employee’s responsibility (even if it isn’t directly stated in a job description).
For marketing employees, it’s to ensure that brand messaging is clear and released in the appropriate channels to reach the intended audience.
For product development executives, it’s listening to customer feedback to adapt and create a superior service or product.
For contact center agents, it’s to create a pleasant experience that limits customer frustration with long wait times or indifferent responses from the business.
And for management, it’s motivating those on the ‘front line’ and ensuring they have the tools to succeed.
While each group’s responsibilities go well beyond the examples listed, the main point is clear: successful customer-centric companies understand that CX is not just a department, it’s an entire company culture.
Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
So how does a customer-centric company best prepare its employees to be successful? Here are a few things they can do:
After hiring a new employee, he or she needs to be trained in the customer experience. While this may sound obvious, according to a Shift study, over half (62%) of managers felt as though their training programs were NOT good at meeting the needs of the learner.
This can lead to employee frustration and disengagement, two killers of the customer experience. While creating an effective training program is an entirely different post, the training process should be continuous with any new addition to the customer experience plan.
Empowerment may seem like a hokie ‘buzzword’ to describe someone who feels their worth, but an empowered employee is one that has a voice and helps the employee to see that he or she has an impact in other departments (and more importantly, customers).
How to empower employees? First of all, give them an avenue for feedback. Two way communication makes the company ‘hierarchy’ feel much more like a collaboration. Also, simple acts of acknowledging a good act of service with a customer can go a long way from having an employee who just tries to get through the daily grind.
Accountability in business is the ability to consider the benefits or consequences of our actions and ultimately own up to them. The point of accountability isn’t to punish any employee, but create a sense of unity and know that everyone is reaching for a same collective goal.
In order to have the best possible customer experience, everyone needs to take part and make customer-centricity part of their daily workday. Improving the customer experience comes from every level of a company, and it only takes one break in the chain to lose a customer’s business for good. Does everyone in your business understand the importance of the customer experience? Are they prepared to deliver the best experience possible?