A good employee experience leads to a good customer experience. What is exactly meant by that?
Let’s answer that by asking the question, whose responsibility customer experience really is. Is it marketing’s or sales’? Is it that of the suits or of the customer facing team?
Everyone in your organisation has the responsibility to provide a good customer experience.
Everyone means every employee. Across departments, across hierarchies.
But how does a good employee experience translate to a good customer experience?
LET’S DO A POLL
To answer that, let do a quick poll. Here is a quote from Sam, an employee at a mid-sized telecom company:
“I am the one who is facing the customer on a daily basis. But how I interact with them is governed by these suits sitting in the office who would never have met a customer in their lives!”
Now, which option do you most agree with:
- It’s me. I say that all the time!
- I used to be like Sam. Now that I am a team lead, I have made sure that my team members do not say such things
- A person like Sam does not exist in my team. I listen to what my team has to say about customers.
Now it doesn’t take much to guess that if an actual poll was done, most of us would probably choose option 1. Though, most of us would like to pick option 3 as our answers.
If you have actually chosen option 3, you are a unicorn! People would do anything to work for you. Your team members feel empowered. Your customers are extremely happy with you.
If you have chosen option 2, it’s great. However, you should validate this by running this poll with your team members. Depending on the results, you can either genuinely chose option 3 or see what needs to be done for those who have chosen option 1.
In most organisations, most customer facing teams end up choosing option 1. It is a bitter pill to swallow. But understanding why that is so is the first step towards empowering your employees to deliver a great customer experience.
WHY ARE TEAMS NOT FOCUSED ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
In the day to day operations and in the strive to meet targets, it is easy to lose focus from the customer. At a more senior level, organisational or team revenue targets can make leaders step away from the customers.
Now, changing these behaviours require cultural changes at the organisational level as well as individual level – both are which challenging and time consuming.
In very simple terms, the key to a good customer experience is listening to them and solving their problem. While doing so at a structural level has time consequences, listening and problem solving are natural skills all of us possess.
Here are some simple ways you can harness those skills immediately to set the ball rolling. They are so simple that you can start on these as you complete this article.
SET UP A CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS TO SOLVE A CURRENT CUSTOMER PROBLEM
Think of a customer who is facing an immediate problem.
Let’s say, as a Sales Leader at a telecom equipment company, you have a client whose bill value has increased after they have taken your product.
The IT head of the client is furious. He would not even listen to you when you say that your analysis has revealed that the increased bill has nothing to do with your product.
What you could do is to get your technical team member and sales rep together in the room and do another round of analysis. You may also invite your accounts team member. Now, look at the problem with a fresh set of eyes and brainstorm.
What this team could do is look at other reasons why the bill is higher. Remember that the customer’s problem is not with the product but with the fact that his bills are higher. As a team, you could list all possibilities for the problems and provide technical or non-technical solutions. Once the list is ready, send it across to the client.
This activity will serve two purposes: the client could be happier that you made an additional effort. More importantly, it will send a message to your team that sometimes it is more important to solve the client’s problem than simply selling.
TALK TO YOUR MOST DIFFICULT CUSTOMER – NOW
Whether you are in the B2B or B2C space, you have your share of difficult customers. Apple, in spite of its demi-God status amongst tech enthusiasts, has its share of strong, passionate customers. These are the people who would buy an Apple product as soon as it releases and complain to whoever listens why it is the worst Apple product ever.
An enterprise software product seller could probably have the customer who would write long emails at the hint of a small bug. This could annoy your team to the extent of not acting.
If you have one such customer in mind, do this exercise (disclaimer: apply adequate courtesy when doing so).
Call your sales rep and / or your marketing team member and get on a call with this customer. Just call up and tell the person that you want to understand the problem better. Do this with your team members on the line as well.
Speaking to a difficult client most of the times helps. The client rep may not be placated in the first attempt itself but you have established a clear channel of communication with them. Equally importantly, involving your team in that conversation sends a message to them.
You are not just telling your team, but showing them that every customer is important. That goes a long way in making them more customer focused.
INVITE YOUR BEST CUSTOMER TO MEET YOUR TEAM
Now that your team has spoken to a client they would possibly have avoided, it is time to move to the good part. Think of your best client. Someone who is happy with your work and refers you to people in her network.
Now, draft an email and invite her to come and meet your team. Check the calendars of your team and yourself and send the email with suggested dates and time. In the email, tell them how much you appreciate their business. Tell them how your team is happy working them. Then invite them to your office. Do not try and make it an extravagant affair. A simple coffee with the team.
You can ask them to talk to your team about their experiences with your organisation, product and team.
In today’s digital age, your client and your team may be getting less face time with each other. Or meeting the customer may not be a top priority. As a leader, you need to step in and facilitate that. It not only helps your team put a face to clients, but it also helps them get a deeper understanding of the human side of the clients.
MAKE IT MANDATORY FOR EVERYONE TO SPEND TIME WITH CUSTOMERS
Depending on the type or size of the organisation you work at, this step could be slightly controversial or even difficult to implement.
However, as a starting point, prepare a list of one team member from each department in your organisation. Now, tag each of them to 2-3 of your clients. Once this list is prepared circulate it amongst all those on the list internally with a request that they should try and spend a couple of hours in person with these clients. Mention that your team will help in setting up the logistics of these meetings.
The resistance would be from either different department heads or if you are a smaller organisation then from different team members only. However, in the communication, make it clear the reasons for attending these meetings. Have one on one conversations with those who are resisting very highly.
Once you get buy in from each team member, you can figure out the agenda and logistics of these meetings in consultation with the client, respective team member and your sales rep.
All the action points mentioned above can be initiated and completed immediately. You should not really need a comprehensive plan to simply listen to your customers.
And that’s what creating great customer experiences is all about: listening to them.
Creating great customer experience on a consistent basis does require a strong employee culture as well. As Mckinsey says, creating happy customers begins from creating happy employees.
Take small initiatives to establish that culture. One way of doing this is to create simple structures for the employees to build on. That done, you end up building a solid foundation for turning good employee experience into great customer experiences.