We have discovered in the last 2 years that “customer centricity” is finally and fast, becoming part of the CEO and leadership teams’ narrative. Cognitively leaders and company boards are acknowledging that the customer should be the front and center of everything they do. Most leadership teams are also putting together strategies to listen and respond to the voice of the customer proactively and with alacrity.
However when they take stock they realise that the customer has not felt the impact of all their noble intentions. Complaints have risen, customer attrition is at a high and the negative reviews are all over social media like a rash.
“Why? How? WHY?”!
Based on the experience that we have had with various organisations across industries in India and globally, we have realized that following could be some reasons for why the customer experience strategy made in boardrooms either fails to reach the customer, or reaches in a far diluted form than intended.
At one organization in the BFSI space, we found that while the top management was very clear and aligned to the experience they wanted their customers to have, at the ground level however there was misalignment. While the new message from the top was that the “customer must be at the center of everything we do”, it conflicted greatly with an existing message on “strict process orientation for adherence to regulatory compliance.”
The team at the ground was process oriented, inward looking mostly to the detriment of the customer experience. The misalignment was significant. People across levels did not feel equipped to bridge the gap between the 2 messages. The fear of punitive action for compliance not being adhered to, by their line supervisors, was deeper than that of the message from the top management urging people to focus on the customer
Clearly, somewhere the message was lost and the whole organization was not aligned on its understanding of customer centricity.
The following questions can help build the alignment to ensure the desired cascade:
1.) What are we doing to ensure we all understand what we mean by customer centricity here?
2.) What are we going to monitor review and reward to make apparent the seriousness of intent on customer centricity? Do our performance measures have customer delight as a critical measure?
3.) What do we need to put in place to ensure common understanding of this?
4.) What do we need to stop doing so everyone has a common understanding of what the customer means to us and what we’re willing to do to make the customer have a great experience, time after time?
5.) Who do we need to upskill, coach, mentor, audit to ensure there are no gaps in communicating our seriousness towards creating magical experiences to the last person down the line?
79% of surveyed global contact centres say they have no big picture view of a customers’ interactions across service channels – Global Contact Centre Report.
While we go on to advertise our promise to the customers “products and experience”, unfortunately sometimes we miss communicating the same message internally. By that we miss the opportunity of building a sense of pride around what we can deliver to the customer. We also miss creating the ability to deliver on that customer promise. The strategy and the wherewithal does not reach the people meant to deliver the customer promise.
With a client in the logistics industry, we worked on an initiative aimed at delivering the customer promise through building aligned, enabled and engaged employees. Customer centric champions were selected and equipped to be the change champions, an internal communication strategy and plan was created with the desired messages, forums, stakeholders, audience defined and finally a reward and recognition plan to define, observe and reward the desired customer centric behaviors. Not only did their productivity improve and their customer satisfaction index go up, our client also got the best initiative of the year award that year at a global level.
People are, and stay, engaged, through regular and frequent communication. It is not enough to put posters on the wall and hang danglers from the ceiling. Consistent communication down the line to immediate direct reports is a must, as is company wide communication on a regular basis.
Communicating the business imperative and passion to be customer-centric would need responses to the following questions:
1.) What are the key messages on customer centricity and the experience we want to create?
2.) Who, how and when should communicate these messages?
3.) How are the leaders being customer centric visibly?
4.) What are we communicating to people at every level, pertaining to their roles, on being customer centric
5.) What dialogues are we having with our people on a day to day basis about keeping the customer at the center of everything we do?
6.) What are we doing to ignite their passion?
According to a Salesforce blog entry 75% consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage (e.g., website, social media, mobile, in person).
One of our clients in the water and air purification industry engaged with us to build skills as well as an environment of being focused on the customer. Over a journey of 3 years, they have focused on not only on building skills of one level, but also took the same skills to their third-party partners. They trained their service field force to be trainers, so they could further train their people in touch with the customer and create one experience. As a next phase, we then created standardization manuals so anyone new who joined the team had a ready reckoner. This was also done keeping the cultural nuances of all countries our client had a footprint in. We are now in the process to ensure their global team is trained on the behaviors they have defined as must have to create a consistent, desirable experience.
There has been a drop in escalations to zero and the number of referrals have gone up.
Thinking through, clearly, on what it will take to create a seamless experience – at every single touch-point for the customer, thus, becomes critical.
The following questions can help to build consistency into your customer experience strategy:
1.) What are the various touch-points – “Moments of Truth” as coined by Claus Moller (Founder TMI) and Jan Carlzon (CEO SAS) for a customer with our organization?
2.) What is the customer experience we want to create at each of these touch-points?
3.) What is the role everyone in the organisation has to play to ensure the seamless delivery of this experience across touch points?
4.) How will we ensure the customer experiences consistency wherever they touch our product/meet our services?
At TMI|InspireOne, we have been partnering since the 1980s with our clients to create cultures that deliver powerful, magical, seamless and consistent customer experiences.
We believe that building an organisation aligned and enabled to deliver a well-articulated customer experience, is actually easier than most organisations believe it to be! All it needs is a leadership team with a strong will and passion to build it. Once that I sin place the rest of the pieces of the puzzle slide in smoothly.
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