I have a question for all of the company leaders out there: Do you really have a finger on the pulse of the customer experience you’re delivering?
I’m sure you’re reviewing data and analyzing numbers. You may read reports to find out who is performing well and who is not and personally peruse customer surveys to hear what people are saying. But, here’s the reality – this isn’t where the best-in-class customer experience insights lie. It’s not hidden in your next great marketing promotion or loyalty club, either.
That magic potion you’re after is actually right in front of you. It’s something you’ve probably been overlooking. It’s your people! What kind of employee experience are they having? How closely are you studying that?
Engaging Customers Through Your Employees
As a leader, you have the best of intentions for your company and your people. But it’s really difficult (practically impossible, really) for someone at the higher levels of an organization, no matter how well-intended they may be, to truly understand the daily challenges their frontline employees encounter. Sure, you can hire consultants to analyze the marketplace and help you get at a solid understanding of the external factors impacting your customer experience. Yes, that is important, but it can be much more difficult – and often times more important – to get a grasp on the internal factors. One thing we know to be true is that the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. You must ask yourself: Does our employee experience allow our people to bring the best of themselves to work so they can then deliver the best customer experience possible?
It’s time to look inside yourself (and your company). Focus on your frontline employees and managers, the ones with the daily, real-time experience that makes them uniquely qualified to provide you with a realistic point of view that often goes unnoticed. What are your top performers doing differently? Can that be replicated and scaled across the business to enhance and differentiate your customer experience? If “Undercover Boss” isn’t your thing – and let’s be honest, most leaders aren’t willing to work the front line long enough themselves to really get it – here are a few things you can do to focus on the employee experience so you can, in turn, deliver the best customer experience.
Tips for Delivering Outstanding Customer Experiences
#1. Define your customers’ reality. The customer experience is delivered through multiple touchpoints and channels today: via in-person, a brand website, call centers, social media, and more. But, before an organization can launch a new customer experience strategy, leaders need to have clarity around the current state as it exists in all of these channels. By understanding the reality of where you are today from an internal employee’s perspective and an external marketplace point of view, you can set up your platform for the future.
#2. Find the bright spots. Go find the parts of the customer experience machine that are working really well already. Then replicate them and scale them across your company. The best-performing individual contributors are doing something right – what is it? How can you get others to follow suit? Once you discover this “secret sauce” and spread it around, the bright spots will start to appear everywhere.
#3. Be the first one to embrace the reality that change is a constant. In order for an organization to achieve continued success, it must be ready to adapt to new market conditions and embrace the ever-shifting demands of both consumer and employee demands. But in order for employees to embrace a change mindset, leaders must lead by example. You can’t simple present and “tell” the organization’s strategy; you need to personally exemplify and live the necessary behaviors that bring the strategy to life. The only way to get everyone on board is to be authentic, consistent, honest, and vulnerable. Model the behavior you’re after in others.
#4. Create an “ours” mentality. Everyone needs to have a shared goal and priorities and understand how their individual roles play a part in achieving this goal. Paint a picture of the entire customer experience – shedding light for people on the parts they don’t necessarily own but need to be aware of. You want everyone to be involved and take ownership.
#5. Mind the managers! We can’t stress the importance of managers enough! Managers need to understand the strategy, as they can either be the enablers or the chokepoints for an organization depending on how you treat and leverage them. A recent piece of data from Gallup tells us that 70% of a team’s engagement is influenced by managers. This group is incredibly influential and leaders must invest in developing their skills and knowledge and they’ll be able to support their frontline teams in delivering the customer experience you’re after.
#6. Promote personal purpose. Are your people encouraged to bring their personal purpose to work? Individuals might not share the same values or beliefs, but it’s important that everyone put their own values and beliefs to work – that’s when people do their best. This is living congruently, one life at home and at work.
Put Your People First
So, the next time you consider changing your customer experience strategy, remember – the companies delivering outstanding customer experiences are the ones delivering great employee experiences, too. Look at your strategy through the lens of your people – and then make empowering them your number one priority. The best companies focus on their people first. What will happen when you make the shift?