Aligning Employees Around Delivering Best-in-Class Customer Experience
Aligning Employees AroundDelivering Best-in-Class Customer Experience July |2010
Aligning Employees Around Delivering Best-in-Class CustomerExperienceCustomer – employee interactions are the very backbone of the customerexperience. Employees dedicated to serving the customer base deepen the overallcompany – client bond; indifferent employees providing poor service driveconsumer and value loss, damaging the company in a way that is oftenirreversible. Companies need to align their employees around delivering the bestpossible customer experience possible…Think of a rock band in which every member tries to please the crowd individually,as he or she best sees fit (with each trying to play a solo at the same time, forexample). The output would probably be junk, a bunch of sounds overlappingeach other with no discernible quality or value to the tune. Luckily, practicedbands know how to play in tune in an aligned manner, each stepping up to theforefront when needed, each contributing to the overall performance to deliverthe best possible product as possible.This concept of working in alignment is not much different in companies.Delivering best-in-class customer experience requires sales, marketing, customercare, and operations departments work in harmony across the multitude ofchannels they interact with customers through. Doing this is easier than said –whereas a band occupies the same place at the same time and is working aroundensuring they deliver one song perfectly, a company has a range of employees inall parts of the company in all different channels trying to deliver all differenttypes of things to a given customer.Not surprisingly, prior studies have shown that employees play the key role indetermining the overall satisfaction of customers. Varying based on industry andconsumer segment, between 40% - 80% of customer satisfaction and loyalty isdetermined based on the employee relationship. At Royal Bank of Canada forexample, studies show that the relationship customers have with the bank staffcan skew their perception of the bank’s services by approximately 40%.While some companies excel around delivering best-in-class customer experiencevia their employees, others struggle mightily. We believe there are five specificroot causes behind this failure:
Employee-Related Customer Experience Breakdown - Root Lack of Lack of Lack of Lack of Lack of Vision Competence Information Motivation IntegrationLack of VisionEvery company must have a coherent vision around the experience it wants todeliver to its customer base. This defined experience must be end-state specific(defining exactly the experience each customer should have throughout thecustomer lifecycle, and how he or she should feel about the experience), must besegment-specific (i.e. higher level of service for high-net worth customers), mustbe measurable (reflecting in employee job responsibilities and KPIs), and must bedisseminated throughout the entire company and its employee base.Such vision must come from the top down, and be integrated into the company’sculture and become “business as usual” over time. Without such a well-definedand coherent vision, some employees will place little to no importance on theservice they provide customers.Lack of CompetenceA well-defined and coherent vision is just the start – delivering best-in-classcustomer experience requires competent employees be the driving force,translating the vision into tangible actions that satisfy the customer. While someemployees will immediately embrace the vision and deliver on it, others won’t,with the reason being that they are not competent enough to do so.To overcome this competency gap, companies need to identify possible skilldeficiencies in their employee base as it relates to providing the desired customerexperience, and develop programs to address these shortcomings. Thistransformation is at the heart of cultural change management programs, whichaims to ensure employees share the desired set of skills and capabilities such thatthe company can achieve its objectives.Lack of InformationWithout information as to the interaction history of a customer, employees cando little to deliver on the customer experience. We as customers all know whatit’s like to contact a call center to follow up on a problem, only to have to repeatoneself all over again to the representative answering the phone. This informationblack hole traditionally happens for two reasons – first, the lack of an interactionhistory-recording CRM system, second, the lack of employees to do so.
Employees must be made responsible for recording every interaction they havewith customers, no matter how minute in scale, across every interaction channel– be it the direct sales rep. capturing the reason a potential customer rejected anoffer or the dealer who sold an add-on service to an existing customer. Acompany’s employees cannot fully deliver on the customer experience withoutknowing enough about each and every customer’s past interactions andexperiences.Lack of MotivationWhile some employees lack the competencies to deliver on the customerexperience, others simply don’t care enough to be bothered. Particularly amongfront-line employees there may be little motivation to better serve the customerbesides those which are financial in nature – recognition and careeradvancement-related motivators tend to mean more to those in centralized /management functions.One effective way of motivating individuals to deliver on the customer experienceis for the delivery to be rewarded (or punished) via KPIs set into the employee’sannual performance review, basing a part of the bonuses, commissions, and raiseson the overall effectiveness in delivering excellent service (measurable throughcall audits, observation, mystery shopping, etc.). Another way is to hold occasionalcontests around customer experience, pitting different employees and teamsagainst each other in races to see who can deliver the experience in a bettermanner.Lack of IntegrationAs in bands, each piece of the company must work together to ensure there is aseamless, consistent customer experience. What one employee does in the backoffice around processing a sales application directly affects the original salesrepresentative who has to answer to the customer as to why an account has notbeen opened. When a call center agent fails to record an interaction with acustomer in detail in the company’s CRM system around a problem that has notbeen resolved yet, it’s the next agent who answers the customer’s second callwho is forced to apologize for not knowing about the situation.All employees who touch the customer to any degree must deliver together onthe promise around customer experience. As such, an effective way to do this isthrough the formation of a cross-departmental committee responsible fordelivering collectively on the customer experience. With representativesrepresenting and responsible for the various interactions around the customerlifecycle, the committee frequently reviews the experience to determine if thereare deficiencies around it, to identify improvement opportunities and responsibleparties.
Along these five dimensions, companies are at different points in terms of howwell their employees function. Some have complete employee buy-in around thecustomer experience vision, some haven’t even formulated one. The maturitylevels around these five dimensions are as follows: Maturity Levels at Employee Barriers around Customer Experience (CE) Lack of Lack of Lack of Lack of Lack of Vision Competence Information Motivation Integration The vision is in place and All competencies can be Employees across all Motivation of employees is The customer receives the fully disseminated across found among those channels have real-time no longer a root cause for same level of service from Best-in-Class the company, with buy-in employees responsible for access to interaction the failure to deliver on the employees across the entire from all stakeholders. delivering on the CE. records, with all recorded. customer experience. lifecycle. The competencies have been Employees capture all Periodical programs are Actions are taken via the The vision is tied into tied to employee roles and interactions and rely on past utilized to motivate committee to ensure a Advanced employee performance responsibilities, as well as interaction records when employees to deliver on the consistent experience across management. job requirements. interacting with customers. customer experience. the entire lifecycle. Rules around capturing Failures around delivering on Programs are developed Annual performance reviews Employees begin to partially interactions are developed, the customer experience are Progressing follow some guidelines. and being used to overcome with most interactions are tied in to customer identifiable and shared via a competency deficiencies. experience. recorded. cross-departmental comm. The competencies have been Systems are in place, yet The responsible parties are A basic vision is designed, Awareness around the need defined, but they are employees are not forced to defined for delivering on the Intent but not disseminated at all deficient, with no program capture customer to build motivators exists, CE along the customer across the organization. though no formal program. to address the problem. information. lifecycle. There exists no systems or There is no system for Employees do not There is no defined vision or The competencies required responsibilities around motivating employees understand how their Deficient desired for one around the to deliver superior customer capturing customer around the CE, those lacking actions affect others in the customer experience. experience are not defined. information. cannot be identified. organization around the CE.Companies seeking to understand where they stand around these dimensions canuse various tools (such as surveys, mystery shops, etc.) to do so. Once theassessment is completed, companies then need to create specific programs aimedat addressing the shortcomings, with a higher level of focus paid to problemareas. There may be significant variance between departments within the samecompany as to where their deficiencies lie, and thus, the focus also may changebased on the employee groups.By overcoming these five problem areas, companies will have gone a long waytowards ensuring that at the least, their employees are working in an optimalmanner around delivering the best possible customer experience possible. Otherfactors may cause the customer to become dissatisfied (due to, for example, alarge price increase in a service, or a product breakdown), but at the least, theemployees providing service will do all they can to make up for it.
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