In our current era of customer control (thanks, social media!), it’s actually kind of surprising how many large, prominent brands still choose to put corporate profits above building a company culture that drives a positive customer experience. See it’s all been flipped on its head: Companies that wish to drive a positive customer experience first will be rewarded with handsome profits. When companies prefer to still operate as if they’re in the pre-social media decades, and they put company profits ahead of the customer experience, well, those customers are all too happy to become the anti-brand ambassadors, sprinkling their negative experiences throughout the interwebs.
Moral of the story: It pays to put your customers first.
A recent Forbes article highlighted how improving a company’s culture can improve the customer experience. The post details some great points about prioritizing how employees are treated and trained, as this has a direct effect on how these same employees will treat your customers. To expand on the author’s post, here are some additional ways to improve the customer experience – by starting with those hard-working employees.
How to improve the customer experience: Find out how your employees prefer to work
Employees these days have choices, and, it’s an unfortunate reality that in customer support roles, turnover rates often tip 35%. Why? Because employees are treated like a commodity. They’re not valued, listened to, or properly trained. If the company culture is built around increasing profits first, and employees are not valued, not only will these employees treat customers with a negative customer-experience mindset, but these same employees will likely leave the job in a hurry.
There’s a better way.
In support centers, the management has a heavy task of supervising multiple agents, monitoring metrics, and handling escalated customer complaints. There’s hardly time to figure out what employees need to thrive.
Many companies resort to employee surveys. They think: Hey! Let’s just see what employees would like, and we’ll have them fill out our questionnaire, and then if we have the resources, we’ll try to accommodate them.
See, the first problem here is that employees may fear repercussions, so they likely won’t really discuss their optimal working situation. The second problem is that internal politics often thwart any actionable change.
To really listen and hear and act on what employees need in their work environment, consider investing in a neutral research company that can come in and do confidential in-depth interviews with employees. Not a “business consultant” to optimize work, but a qualitative researcher who can spend time with employees, seek to understand their perspective, and package up the results in a comprehensive report that gives guidance on what employees need to be successful in the work environment. This sort of research breaks down corporate myopia and gives an objective view to what is so often impossible to see, as each business has its blind spots and protocols that may be doing more harm than good.
Interviews with employees can illuminate barriers that management may not see, and uncover opportunities to optimize how employees feel about their jobs. It’s a win-win, really.
How to improve the customer experience: Understand what incentives your employees appreciate
You’re sold on confidential in-depth employees interviews already, right? (C’mon? The last paragraph didn’t convince you how important this is?) Let’s assume you are sold on the idea.
In the questions that the interviewer will ask employees about, be sure to include incentives. See, people aren’t just driven by pay. In fact, there are often aspects in the working environment that employees find more rewarding than pay alone. Keep in mind that employees are unique individuals, and they will perceive rewards differently. To truly motivate employees, have your researcher talk about incentives and motivating factors for employees (this part should not be confidential), so that managers will understand what makes each unique employee respond positively.
How to improve the customer experience tip #3: Ensure that the management listens to employee concerns
Finally, to improve the customer experience by creating a customer-centric work culture from your employees, ensure that management is on-board with the research findings. The insights, analysis, and suggestions will be useless unless they’re actually respected and acted on. Clearly, some employee opinions may not be feasible (half-days but full pay?), but there will likely be tons of nuggets that can be used to transform the working culture into an environment that employees love, are excited about, and that gets them motivated to create an amazing customer experience, with each customer interaction.