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The Road to Stellar Customer Experience Is Lined With Engaged Employees

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Various variables contribute to customer experience: your product line, painless processes, engaged employees... Giving your employees the opportunity to maximize the impact they have on customer experience enables your business to offer a memorable experience while improving the key "Moments of Truth" in the customer lifecycle.

A voice-of-the-customer (VOC) program is a vital step toward understanding your critical customer touchpoints. By adding VOC, you not only get deeper insight into those experiences but also engage the teams that deliver them.

A Three-Step Effort

Follow these three steps to engage your employees and create successful (and profitable) customer experiences.

1. Ensure commitment


A company culture that fosters customer-centricity must be built, by example, from the top. Issuing an edict that states "we are now a customer-focused business" won't do the job. Executive teams must genuinely support such a program and commit to investing in projects that will move it forward.

Moreover, employees must want to create great customer experiences. Offering financial incentives won't motivate them. Rather, employees need to feel that they are part of a structured, intentional, and comprehensive effort that truly makes a difference. Customer champions in all departments—not just those that are customer-facing—can keep the momentum going, helping the sense of empowerment to go viral.

When employees want to deliver great experiences, the feedback they provide is insightful. Although customers may be the ones who report dissatisfaction with an experience, your employees are the ones who understand exactly which failing process actually caused the problem. Provide a channel that encourages your employees to offer that insight, helping to uncover solutions to fix key customer issues.

2. Arm employees with critical information

Give your employees the ability to listen to the voice of the customer, not in monthly reports, which remain unread, but in live interactive dashboards that enable employees to see how they have an impact on the lives of their customers.

One successful approach that some companies take is to tap into their employees' competitive spirit. You can set up dashboards to showcase departmental performance with individual statistics. By providing customer feedback in this detailed way, you foster positive competition, ultimately creating a stronger team.

Employees often act based on their own view of reality. Giving them access to customer data will ensure they're able to understand how customers feel about their interactions with the company. Advanced VOC platforms not only provide charts, graphs, and customer comments within dashboards but also enable employees to listen to audio clips, view photographs, and even watch video clips of customer feedback captured via mobile device. Such dashboards provide a compelling picture of customer experiences that employees can really grasp and engage with.

By performing a gap analysis on the perceptions of both customers and employees, you can identify what sort of training would better equip your employees with the ability to deliver positive customer experiences. Training is core to giving your teams the skills they need to delight customers.

3. Say thank you

Appreciation is hugely empowering. Recognizing the contribution of employees, both their feedback and the experiences they deliver, is crucial to generating long-term success. Such recognition must be an ongoing process in which the employees and teams who make a real difference to your company feel that their contribution is appreciated by peers and management.

A well-executed voice-of-the-customer program should simplify the identification of high-performing employees by automatically driving alerts to managers when a customer provides satisfaction scores. Such a program makes it simple to recognize the right people, and helps those employees understand how their contribution brings success to the entire business.

The Bigger Picture

No matter what you do to try to guarantee great customer experiences—implement advanced technology, exhaustive communication plans, and complex strategies—none of it will work without engaged employees who feel empowered to deliver those experiences.

Simply put, engaged employees deliver great customer experiences, and great customer experiences make money.

As you build your customer experience program, consider the following:

  • Engaging employees won't change the company overnight; typically, you'll have a 3-6 month lag between such programs' implementation and noticeable change to customer loyalty.
  • The voice of the employee is a fantastic data point that gives real insight. However, don't be tempted to use it instead of the voice of the customer. The programs are complementary. Employees will give you an inside-out perspective, colored by their knowledge of your processes and internal policies. To achieve clarity, you need to blend that view with the outside-in perspective of customers.
  • You must share feedback across the company, breaking down silos that prevent that feedback from delivering value. All employees can cultivate great customer experiences, not only customer-facing teams. And they should all have the opportunity to share their views on how your business can improve.

Empowering employees is not about just making them happy. When you talk to them, listen to them, and take action and recognize them, you develop a clear line of sight between what affects them on a day-to-day basis; the experiences they provide; and, ultimately, your profit margin.

(Image courtesy of Bigstock: Superman)


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Carolyn Hall is product marketing manager at Confirmit (www.confirmit.com), a global vendor of software for customer feedback, employee feedback, and market research. She can be reached at carolyn.hall@confirmit.com.

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Comments

  • by Rishi Fri Aug 24, 2012 via web

    Great article, and its important that you pointed out that (first-line) employees have better insight into the failing processes in your business, since they look at it from both the business' the customer's perspective. I would also like to mention the importance of using social monitoring tools that track the conversations and moods of various customers (or potential customers) on the internet. Check out our marketing tips and tricks including "How to Improve Website Usability" at http://mdv.to/NmISj3

  • by Michael O'Daniel Mon Aug 27, 2012 via web

    This is a fantastic article, and I congratulate Carolyn for writing it, even if possibly there was an underlying agenda of selling CRM software... :)

    To be truly effective in their mission, marketing people need to pay more attention to the front lines, to both employee and customer feedback, even to the extent of getting involved in the hiring and training process, input into the CRM process, etc., instead of being so obsessed with analytics. There is no substitute for anecdotal feedback from a live human being. Let the customer talk! For example, customer surveys can be an OK tool, but you often get more valuable information by accident when the conversation veers "off topic."

    Many years ago a colleague and I came up with the concept of HCRM, a marriage of Human Capital Management with Customer Relationship Management. The premise was that organizations ought to value their employees equally with their customers, especially those employees in customer-facing positions. Far ahead of its time then and still so today in this era of management by spreadsheet.

    One additional point to make about CRM: the metric ought to be how successful the CSR was in solving the customer's problem, not how many calls were completed or tickets closed per hour / day / week (once again, the human equation vs. the analytical one).

    Get out of your office and listen in on your CSRs' conversations with your customers! You'll be amazed what you learn.

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