Increase employee engagement and satisfaction to better manage the customer experience. Research has shown that unengaged, dissatisfied employees are unlikely to provide good customer service, properly represent your business, or pass vital customer feedback along to supervisors and management.
Motivated, well-trained, and empowered employees are critical to providing an exceptional end-to-end customer experience. First-contact solutions, cross-selling and up-selling, preventing future unnecessary service contacts (via customer education), creating an emotional connection with customers, and collecting customer information for the Voice of the Customer (VOC) are the primary responsibilities of your employees.
An exceptional customer experience begins with a culture in which employees have the freedom to break the rules, use their empowerment, and leverage technology to create memorable, cost-effective connections
However, before you can begin to build a customer-centric culture you will need to hire the right employees. Seek out candidates that demonstrate a propensity for engaging customers and a commitment to helping customers successfully navigate the customer lifecycle journey. During the hiring and selection process screen for candidates that fit your brand’s image and core values. For example, Trader Joe’s serves up an image of fresh and organic alongside happy, knowledgeable employees. The company carefully selects employees that are congruent with this image. New hires are vigorously trained, immersed into the culture and educated on the philosophy of exceptional customer service.
Be sure to create a job description that clearly makes the employee accountable for using their power and skills to effectively serve customers, seeking an emotional connection with customers, and providing regular input into the Voice of the Customer (VOC) process.
Next, train your employees on how to handle the most common, specific types of issues that they will encounter. Provide real-time information about the customer’s situation and give them the flexibility to offer tailored service solutions when necessary.
Talk to them often about the importance of customer experience management. Periodic informal discussion sessions can help to reinforce customer-centric principles explained in formal training sessions.
Encourage open communication throughout the organization around the customer experience and establish sources of employee input in the form of employee surveys, advisory panels with company-wide representation, and real-time communication via email or even texting. Stories of customer experience across the employee base (not just front-line employees) should be collected, shared, and collated into a central database. Conversely, communicate results from customer feedback mechanisms back to employees.
Great customer service should be the responsivity of every employee – regardless of position within the organization. Executives must demonstrate a willingness to prioritize customer service. Supervisors should trust well-trained employees to properly serve the customer. Moreover, supervisors should coach employees, provide meaningful feedback, and explain how feedback from customers is used to improve customer service.
Finally, exemplary customer-centric behavior should be regularly recognized, rewarded and celebrated. A great way to motivate employees is to connect formal rewards (e.g., raises, bonuses, promotions) to performance on customer experience metrics.
To learn more about the importance of focusing on employees for developing the optimal customer experience check out Customer experience 3.0: High-profit strategies in the age of techno service, by John Goodman (2014).