Think that customer experience doesn’t matter? 89% of U.S. adults switched to a competitor because they had a bad customer experience with a service provider. Worried about profits? 86 percent of U.S. adults will pay more for a better customer experience. Is the customer experience being discussed in your management meetings? Is customer experience part of your customer service training meetings?
Exceptional Customer Experience Starts with Employee Engagement
It’s nearly impossible to create an exceptional customer experience without trained, effective, and customer-focused employees working with the customer.
Companies today have customer loyalty issues because their employees who work with customers don’t like their jobs. Disengaged employees don’t contribute to an exceptional customer experience. Too many employees are treated poorly and aren’t trained effectively. Yet, because of this companies are literally driving customers away through their employees. And, they blame their poor business results on the economy.
“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must do. American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service… Ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty.”
-Jim Bush, Executive Vice President, World Service at American Express
Knowing this, note the statistics and the sad state of the workplace:
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- 50% of employees say that their managers fail to make them feel valued and important.
- 55% of employees are unsatisfied with their jobs.
- 65% of employees say they weren’t recognized at all last year.
- 77% of employees say they are looking for another job.
- 80% of employees say they get no respect at work.
- 75-80% of the workforce are disengaged and not committed to the company’s goals.
- 88% of employees say they don’t get enough recognition or acknowledgement at work.
4 Proven Steps to Engage Employees and Improve Customer Experience
Rick Conlow, CEO with WCW Partners, consults and trains organizations on developing a plan for engaging employees and improving customer experience. Let’s discuss the 4 step process to engage employees and create an exceptional customer experience.
The 4 proven steps will focus on involving your employees in the customer experience process. Employees need to be committed and know that we rely on them to do more than just answer the phones, they need to create an exceptional customer experience. Engaged employees are employees that are involved in the crafting of the mission of the organization. They feel like their input matters, the work they do is meaningful, because they are the key part of the process of creating a positive customer experience. Involving employees helps them feel connected with the customer experience mission, and know that the work they do is valued and really matters. The work they do really does matter, it’s their words, actions, attitude, and behavior that creates the customer experience, good or bad.
1. Plan the Customer Experience with Employees
With your employees, analyze customer feedback, then, as a team, plan specifically how you want your customers be treated. In teams, establish standards, then have managers measure your customer satisfaction real-time and report it to all managers and employees for review. This plan needs to be executed daily, and reviewed often. Create committees in your organization for planning the various aspects of the customer experience and assign employees to help in committees. They’ll love it. They’ll engaged with it. They’ll commit to it.
2. Train About Customer Experience with Employees
Develop employees’ service knowledge, attitudes, skill and habits through simulation, group discussion and role-play in key service competencies. Assign employees to research a topic, practice, then teach it. As you do this, they’ll more quickly master the subject. Then do it again and again. This needs to be done consistently over time to really work.
Conduct “train the trainer” so employees get a chance to practice the concepts and master the subject. This will build their commitment to on-going improvement. For example, using weekly service and sales training sessions with employees, a services company increase results to existing customers to all time highs.
3. Involve Employees in Coaching the Customer Experience
All employees can use coaching to increase performance. Most employees feel they are performing better than they are while most could significantly improve their performance. Effective coaching will empower employees to serve customers better. Employees coaching will empower employees to better understand the principles for effective customer service. To create meaningful improvement you need a culture throughout the company that “lives and breathes” customer engagement.
4. Reward Employees Based on the Customer Experience
People are more loyal to people, than to corporations. Encourage employees to make personal connections each day with your customers. Reward employees for making those connections. Leave out post cards for your employees to write notes to your customers. Reward your employees for thanking, and treating the customer. If a customer gives you good feedback about an employee, reward them always for it.
Customer Experience and Customer Loyalty Start and End with Your Employees
If you want greater customer loyalty prepare your leaders and employees better. Exceptional customer experiences and customer loyalty begins and ends with employees. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who work with customers, help customers, solve customer problems, and make connections with customers. It begins and ends with them. But for the process to be successful, you’ll need a supportive organization in the middle planning, training, coaching, and rewarding employees who make the customer experience process.