Delivering great customer experiences doesn't just happen within one department of your organization. It happens when everyone from the CEO to product development, the sales team and customer service reps understands their purpose in the business. More importantly, they understand how that purpose benefits customers. It happens when customer experience is recognized as the most important component of business success.
How important is customer experience? Here are a few statistics that make the case:
Surveys repeatedly show that customer service commands a premium in the marketplace. A recent survey showed that 55% of customers will pay more for stellar customer service. Conversely, poor customer service can cost you: Customers are four times as likely to buy from a competitor if they encounter service problems, and 89% of customers have stopped doing business with companies that provided poor service.
So how do you guarantee that your customers will have a great experience with your company? I talked to several business leaders recently about how they're delivering great experiences for customers. Here are a few of their thoughts on how to empower people to transform the customer experience.
Empower the Individual
Paul Burke, the founder of augmented reality app, Guru, says that employee empowerment is the key to unlocking his team's creativity. Guru's team of designers, writers, and developers bring varied backgrounds and skillsets to create innovative videos and immersive storytelling opportunities that enhance customer experiences at museums, zoos and aquariums.
Says Burke, "We embrace each team member's distinctive qualities and perspectives. When team members are fully engaged in collaboration, bringing many perspectives to the table, it helps us develop apps that are more meaningful to our audiences."
The Guru team believes an open culture is the key to engaging employees more fully so that they are better at problem solving and communicating with users. These, in turn, drive greater customer satisfaction and growth. Says Burke, "Empowering individuals to provide a better customer experience requires an environment of trust, collaboration and transparency. These lead to individual engagement, which in turn promotes organizational growth."
Make Teamwork a Guiding Principle
Stronger Together isn't just a campaign slogan at ITsavvy, according to John Skeffington Director of Talent Management and Development. Says Skeffington, "We surveyed our employees to put together a set of guiding principles to take our company forward. One of the principles that came out of that was the idea of teamwork - that the company as a whole evolves when people move forward together."
With teamwork as a guiding principle, building great customer service teams takes on greater importance. Says Skeffington, "Each person contributes to the customer experience, and that leads us to growth and success. So we're looking to support each person's growth as they move us toward the goal line. We're doing that through internal programs that identify and recruit candidates that want sales careers, have the right attitude for delivering a great experience, and are cultural fits."
The program, called savvyU, provides three weeks of IT and sales training to help team members grow professionally and personally so they can become IT and customer service experts. Says Skeffington, "We wanted to show our team that relationships matter, and we're willing to invest in them, to support their role. We see our relationship with clients - we call them that, rather than customers - is one of partnership. That client relationship is about trust and teamwork. The team approach goes beyond our internal teams to how we partner with clients for success in IT, powering their growth, and inspiring success."
Paint the Vision
Sometimes it's difficult for people to envision the future, especially if a business is struggling today. Christopher O'Malley, President and CEO of mainframe computing firm Compuware, says that one of the biggest challenges his company faced when he started was turning around employee mindsets when the company was experiencing business challenges. O'Malley explains, "The culture had become one of resignation. No matter how hard people tried, they felt they couldn't affect the outcome."
To turn things around, O'Malley says, "We started painting the vision of how things needed to be in terms of the experience we wanted customers to have. We took pains to acknowledge that even though we weren't happy about how we got there, we also had to take responsibility for our own actions and do our part to turn things around. If you're going to change a company, everyone has to help. You can't expect more from others than you do from yourself."
Painting the vision of where the company was trying to go began a turnaround in the company's approach to its people. Says O'Malley, "Now, we're focused on success. We have celebrations and new launches every quarter. Celebrations really define us; gratitude triggers the positive mindset we need to deliver excellence. Celebrating success builds confidence every quarter, and we've seen an impact on the customer side that their sense of trust is starting to grow."
By empowering the individual, building teams, and communicating the vision of where you're trying to go, your organization can deliver customer experiences that don't just meet expectations, but exceed them. When every person in your organization understands their contributions and impact on the customer experience, it transforms your business from one that takes orders, to one that is a teammate and partner for success.