Does Your Company Really Understand What a Good Customer Experience Is?
To share a personal story, this past weekend I had a disappointing customer experience while dealing with two major cable/satellite companies for both myself and my mother-in-law. Not only were we subjected to unacceptably long wait times, both of these companies managed to repeatedly miss their arrival time commitments. I read almost daily about how more businesses are focusing on the customer experience, and according to Gartner, 89% of the companies they survey are already investing in resources that will help them improve in this area in 2016. So, given my recent poor customer experience, I have to wonder, why it is so difficult for many organizations to meet even the basic expectations of their customers? These same companies clearly talk a good game, but when it comes to delivery, they end up falling short.
To take away from this experience, as executives, I want to believe that we are able to recognize what is truly of value to our business, our customers, and our processes. However, if this is truly the case, why then do we fail? While I like to think that we are always working to transform our culture, starting by making sure our employees embrace the mindset of being a customer-driven organization, I think we tend to move on too quickly to the next "hurrah" before the current change is properly in place. This is like framing a house before the foundation is set, and doesn't benefit us or our customers.
Often, this is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership, because we have so many items on the list that we want to accomplish that we're too eager to cross each one off. If we take the time to properly develop and nurture a customer-driven culture, there's no doubt that it will help deliver value to our customers and reward our companies with continued growth and profitability. So, think about slowing it down and making sure that new processes and technology have really had a chance to settle in before moving on.
5 Steps to Improving Internal Culture for a Better Customer Experience
I have a few steps that will help you create a “take charge and get it done” environment within your company that will help you improve your customer experience, but it doesn't come without some hard work. It's important to remember that once you have it, you'll need to maintain it, as momentum can easily be lost. Based on how I have managed and how we do things at DG Associates, here are my step-by-step recommendations for creating a better customer-centric culture within your own organization, which will then pave the way to a better customer experience:
- Take the time to get to know your people, especially the leaders and key “go-to” individuals. Make sure that these people will “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.”
- It's important to recognize the individuals within your organization that you can always rely on to be there, participate, and execute. Where needed, make the investment to shore up any weaknesses in this area.
- Typically, I will approach these achievers with any plans early on so they have the opportunity to recognize the roles they will play in its implementation. This not only better prepares them for the future, but also allows me to fully utilize their talents for the success of the overall effort.
- Make sure your people are empowered to use their best judgement for when and how far to go with their responsibilities, as well as determining what they will require for maximizing effectiveness.
- Check and recheck for alignment and completion. Rely on feedback from both your employees on front lines, as well as your customers on the actual experience your company is providing. As painful as it can be at times, you'll need a candid evaluation about how change is evolving. Also, never be afraid to make alignments, but to go back to the house analogy, wait until you are sure the cement on your foundation has dried before moving on to the next step.
These five steps are what have worked for building a “customer first” culture within my own organization and in the past, and you can use them as a guideline for improving your own, and even as a jumping off point for adding more complete steps that apply better to your specific needs. Only you know for sure what improvement will look like for your company, and this will allow you to better define your customer experience in a more complete manner, leading to better customer success in the future.
About the Author
Dennis Gershowitz is the founder and president of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. DG Associates is a TSIA Consulting Alliance Partner.