Every Business owner knows that Customer Service (CS) is crucial to growing and sustaining a business. Good customer service ensures customer loyalty, drives growth and provides free word-of-mouth marketing that builds brand credibility.
However, today,customers are a lot pickier and less loyal mainly because there are a lot more choices available to them. The internet and social media have made it possible to extensively review any product or service within a few on-line clicks which is how long it takes to form an opinion about it. This, in turn, determines whether or not a customer will respond to a call-to-action in an advertisement. In today’s world, just providing good customer service does not ensure customer loyalty.
CX is the new CS!
Businesses need to go far beyond and be tuned in to the entire “experience” that they are delivering. Today, Customer Experience (CX) is to a business what Customer Service was fifteen (or more) years ago!
Customer Experience (CX) or bust!
The CX journey starts from managing the expectations that are created through advertising messages (“Delivery within 30 mins or it's free”, “We respond to all queries within 24hrs”, “The best service / product / money can buy”). The bar of expectations is subconsciously set much before any conscious decision to purchase is made.
Touchy touch points
To achieve a successful “close”, it is imperative that the very first interaction of a potential customer with any of the business’s touch points (hotline, retail outlet, web chat, etc.) is memorable and for the right reasons!
The experience also determines if they come back and even more importantly if they bring their friends and family with them when they return! And this is where the life cycle of the customer begins.
For any business, big or small, this is a lot of ground to cover. So how do they manage to successfully navigate this journey?
CX starts with "Employees"
Yup, your employees!
Problems that manifest themselves at the customer facing “front end” of a business more often than not have their roots in the gut of the business. They relate back to the Culture that an organization creates and nurtures.
There is extensive research (Gallup, TINYpulse) to support the theory that when employees change jobs in under two years of service, the primary reason is not money. More often than not companies lose good employees due to lack of respect and appreciation from managers, little or no scope for career growth, limited opportunities to utilise their true talents, a “toxic” company culture and environment…. the list goes on.
Disengaged employees who decide to stay for any number of reasons typically internalise their dissatisfaction slowly becoming a liability rather than an asset to the business.
The same research shows that work relationships (with managers, co-workers and subordinates) and the broader company culture impacts retention to a great extent.
So what does this have to do with CX? Actually,a lot.
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast"
When employees are unhappy, unfulfilled and disengaged it is most visible to customers and manifests through slip shod service, a pass-the-buck attitude and lack of ownership of the process.
A company that encourages open dialogue between employees and management automatically encourages higher employee engagement, productivity and commitment to performance. Where there is transparency, inclusion and respect you automatically break down silos and discourage ego wars.
So, what does a healthy company culture look like?
When a business protects the needs and interests of its employees it elicits their loyalty and encourages them to take ownership of the service they deliver, internally to their colleagues and externally to customers. It cultivates a sense of pride in being part of the business.
Policies that reward and promote employees based entirely on merit and experience ensure that “Managers” are competent and capable of identifying and developing talent in the teams that they are entrusted to manage.
All this goes towards creating a supportive, healthy and cohesive culture.
And this seamlessly manifests itself at the “front end” of the organization through employees that deliver on company promises, display loyalty, go the extra mile helping customers and “show up” when the going gets tough!
Nurturing a healthy company culture is a simple yet powerful way to ensure the most valuable asset of a business, it's human capital, is invested in building, growing and sustaining the business by delivering an exceptional customer experience.
A healthy culture entrusts your employees to guarantee customer loyalty and keep them coming back for more!
Saadia Bokhari is a Customer Experience Coach and a Management Consultant with 25 years’ work experience in the corporate space, as an entrepreneur and business owner. She helps shape businesses to create customers for life through delivering exceptional customer experiences.