Paul Weald was recently a judge at the Customer Experience Awards. He was so impressed with some of the finalists that he has highlighted the seven golden steps that you could take to improve your own customer experience.
1 Define your customer experience principles
The first step to delivering great customer experience is to have a clear customer-orientated vision that you can communicate with your staff. The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles for your organisation. One way to make this memorable is to create a mnemonic that reflects the key expectations that your customers have whenever they interact with you. For one awards finalist, the “SMILE” means Sharp, Mirror, Interact, Listen, and Energy.
Once these principles are in place, they drive the behaviours of your staff – the acid test of customer-centricity is that every member of your team should know these statements “off by heart” – because they are embedded into every training, monitoring and development task they do.
2 Understand your customers
Improving upon these customer principles, the next step is to bring to life the different types of customers who deal with your contact centre operation. If your staff are really going to understand customers’ needs and wants then they need to be able to empathise with the situation that a customer faces.
An innovative way that one awards finalist did this was to create life-size cut-out models of different customer types. They gave them names and personalities of their own that front line staff can recognise and understand.
3 Create an emotional connection with your customers
Why go to the trouble of understanding customer personalities as well as needs? You do this because memorable customer experience is enhanced when an agent achieves an emotional connection with a customer.
Building upon the core psychology of communication “it is not what you say, it is how you say it”, the award-winning team at Lebara Limited have translated a vision to “make lives better” into a powerful operational culture that reinforces this emotional connection with customers.
4 Capture customer feedback
So how do you know the impact that your operation is having on customer experience? Clearly you need to be able to measure it, by capturing feedback, ideally in a real-time manner. Post-interaction surveys can be delivered using a variety of automated tools via text message, email and post-call IVR surveys, and you can even make outbound calls to a sample of customers to gain more insightful feedback.
It is also important to be able to tie that customer feedback back to a particular agent transaction. That means every team member in your operation knows the difference that they are making to the outcome that customers really want.
5 Use a quality framework to drive coaching and development of your staff
Building upon the previous steps, you now know what customers think about the quality of service that your operation is providing compared to the customer experience principles that define “what good looks like”.
The next step is to be able to pinpoint the training needs for each individual member of your team. Many operations are already using call and email assessments to check the quality of interactions, and a quality framework takes this one step further by scheduling and tracking agent development activities through a variety of coaching, eLearning and group training methods.
6 Act upon regular employee feedback
Most organisations have an annual survey process whereby they capture the mood of staff, how engaged they are towards the operation and its ability to deliver exceptional customer service. But what happens in the intervening 11 months between survey periods?
This is where social media has a role to play within the contact centre, using tools such as Yammer to allow staff to share ideas and for managers to “take the temperature” of how staff are feeling – right here, right now. Many staff are already familiar with using Facebook within their own personal friendship groups, and Yammer uses similar tools in a closed user group business environment.
7 Measure the return on investment from delivering great customer experience
And lastly, how do you know if all this investment in people, process, technology and operations is paying off? The answer, of course, is in the business results.
For an award winner such as Lebara, this is much more than just using the typical operational measures such as first time resolution and net promoter scores. Within their mobile sector, reducing customer churn is the key business outcome that they strive for. Lebara measure the churn rate for all customers who contact their operation versus the equivalent churn rate for those customers that purely self-serve. They can then demonstrate the positive ROI that their customer service operation provides in protecting future customer revenues in a highly competitive market.
Just like the decision to invest in athletes training for the London 2012 Olympics, judging this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards demonstrated to me the value that investing in a great customer experience could have on the future success of the business.
How you approach the application of the seven golden steps will be different for each organisation that ventures down the path to excel in customer experience.
You need to decide what works best for your customers and your own culture.
Paul Weald is the Strategy Director of ProtoCall One.
Paul has also produced a white paper to find out how to bring these seven steps to life for your organisation.