It is heartening to see that most businesses today consider customer experience as their top priority. In fact, until a few years ago many of my friends in India often complained about the passivity of staff at nationalised banks. But today, these banks not only offer quality customer interactions, but also, according to my friends, financial benefits that are better than several private banks.
In my previous article Is Your CX Program Hygienic or Strategic I outlined the difference between the two formats of delivering customer experience and the benefits of each format. It is quite evident and common knowledge as well that while a Hygienic CX Strategy will help you iron out your operations, only a Strategic CX Discipline will ensure you enjoy its economic and strategic benefits.
Even though all organisations understand the implications of providing a great customer experience, in my experience I find that only 15 per cent organisations in the world practice this discipline in its true sense. So where are the remaining 85 per cent missing the bus?
To begin with, there is a fine line of differentiation between customer service and customer experience that one needs to understand in the current times. Let me explain with a real-life example. Nadia, a Russian lady, entered the branch of a leading bank in Australia. She looked visibly nervous and flustered because of her inability to communicate fluently in English. The teller in-charge realised her discomfort and took the Russian lady into a meeting room, made her feel comfortable and then discussed all her requirements. The customer left with the satisfaction of having all her questions answered.
Now, this is just the beginning of the story. What happened next is what will probably zap you.
The next day, this customer moved all her financial assets out of the other branches of the same bank, transferring them to this particular branch! Even better, her one experience of comfort and feeling reassured by this teller encouraged her to convince a bunch of her friends to also move their assets into this particular branch. Besides, she insisted that the deposits had to be made by this very same teller.
As is evident from this incident, the teller’s discretionary effort to go above and beyond her call of duty and make a customer feel valued and cared for and instilling in them the confidence that her branch could offer the best help possible earned the branch she worked at not one, but five new customers, and increased assets. And this is what I call Strategic CX - an Experience that sets your brand apart, as opposed to merely servicing a client as just a transaction.
Now imagine. This was the benefit of just one employee going above and beyond her call of duty. What would happen if every employee performed at this level?
To beat any economic crisis, an organisation must build a strategic CX discipline where the two key stakeholders are heavily engaged:
A business with this high quality of customer experience strategy can only chart success.
Engaging the 2 key stakeholders to go above and beyond
A clear vision
The level of customer experience varies from brand to brand, industry to industry. In a competitive market, the brand that offers the best experience to its customers wins even if it isn’t competitively priced. The best way to establish this is by having a clear vision and a set of best practices. I would probably liken this to family values. Once your entire organisation is aligned to this vision, there’s no stopping you from delivering the best CX.
Every time I think of planned emotions it’s Zappos and Tony Hseih that come to my mind first. Zappos is popular for its positioning of calling itself a customer experience company that happens to sell shoes. At every stage, every level of the hierarchy, every individual worker level, Zappos is soaked into the culture of providing a great experience to its customers. It relates to people’s emotions and works only the premise of making customers feel good about themselves. And guess what, this planned emotion has taken Zappos to heights that probably no other brand has yet achieved.
Nadia definitely felt valued and cared for. What do your customers feel consistently?
Once you decide on the emotion that you want your customers to feel – be it feeling valued, or cared for, or supported, or any other positive emotion – ensure all your activities and conversations deliver that emotion to your customers. It’s a promise that you make to them, and when they find you delivering on your promise, your customer base automatically begins to grow in the number of Promoters. The most critical aspect is that whatever emotion you want customers to feel you must ensure your staff feel that emotion first. So if your planned customer emotion is feeling valued and cared for, then it is critical that your staff also feel valued and cared for. Without feeling these emotions themselves they cannot transfer these emotions to your customers.
Empower your staff
Let me go back to the Zappos story. The only reason why Zappos’ frontline staff were able to deliver great customer experience was because they not only understood the company’s vision and direction clearly, but were also personally committed to making the customer strategy successful. In fact, in the three national employee engagement studies I have conducted the understanding of strategic direction and personal commitment to make the strategy successful is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. This is what drove greater discretionary effort at Zapposto ensure that the brand always delivered on its promise. Similarly, it’s important for you as an organisation to instil staff discretionary powers within your DNA. This is the key to your success.
Journey map your customers constantly
It takes consistently good interactions to create a Promoter, but one bad incident can create a strong Detractor. It is very important to map the journey of every customer of your brand at every stage and plug gaps instantly. This is a practice where everyone across the organisational hierarchy – from the frontline staff to the leadership must be involved.
When we examined customer behaviour across industries, the economics were clear - every Promoter is typically 2X more valuable over their lifetime, but every Detractor means one negative value customer which is detrimental to any brand.
I would like you to take a look at the illustration, pause and reflect on:
Now read on.
Once these four strategic CX practices are incorporated within an organisation, there is no looking back towards improving customer retention and increasing your ROI from offering great customer experiences. Marketing efforts become stronger and sales efforts become more meaningful because your brand now gains the most important support – the voice of your customers.