Customer Service In Context: A Global Battlefield

April 8, 2014 — 2 Comments

Even though most companies inherently recognize the danger, they do not acknowledge and/or take action at the top levels of the organization to reduce the significant financial impact of poor customer experiences – instead they fail to develop and execute successful strategies that will stop the bleeding. Recent statistics indicate 91% of global companies wish to be considered a customer experience leader, yet just 37% have any sort of formal customer experience initiative… and we wonder why we lose business.

To realize a sustainable vision – and the many benefits – of owning the customer experience, organizations must give their employees the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the business (and human) needs of every customer. This requires investment in what many still consider sunk cost, however the expenditure on strategy driven by the customer experience is anything but money down the drain.

By investing in employee empowerment, breaking down organizational silos, and implementing flexible processes and technologies, organizations can deliver personalized, seamless customer experiences throughout the entire customer lifecycle.  When done with purpose and vision,  companies can expect a very real ROI:

  • Two thirds of corporate clients state that they are willing to spend upwards of 23% more with a company they believe provides an excellent customer experience, while three out of four global customers indicate they repeatedly spend more over an extended period of time with a company they consider a partner who provides them with positive customer experiences
  • Poor service leads to 20-30% in lost sales:  In the past year, over half (55%) the customers that intended to conduct business with a “partner” decided not to based on a poor experience that changed the dynamic of the relationship.
  • Accenture reports there is a potential $5.9 trillion of revenue at play in the global market represented by the ‘switching economy’ – companies that switch providers due to poor interactions.
  • Amongst those customers reporting a change in providers over the last year, 81% said that a positive customer experience could have prevented the “switch”.

Remind me why we don’t focus on the customer experience…

In order to succeed and not become a victim of the globally recognized “switching economy”, your organization must equip itself with the skills and knowledge to constantly improve the customer experience that will ultimately maximize revenue.  As a leader, you should focus on the following:

1.   Developing your organizations comprehension of the Customer Experience and Defining Moments:

A defining moment is any point in time when a customer judges the interaction they encounter. While some are more important than others, each defining moment has an affect on the customer’s impression of your organization – it either helps to build or destroy loyalty.  By recognizing and managing each and every defining moment, you create positive, memorable customer experiences ensuring your customers want to continue doing business with you.

2.   Putting the customer at the forefront of your business strategy:

Just as important as product and pricing strategy is your customer experience strategy.  You need to build a strategy that creates opportunities for your people to engage in customer experiences that give your customers every reason to stay with your company.

3.   Building your organizations’ ability to interact with new and existing customers at every touch-point:

Everyone in the organization should be ready and able to find fresh and exciting ways to tell new customers why they should choose your organization and strategically remind existing customers why they made a great decision in choosing you. Every employee must become proactive in meeting customer needs and ensuring all customers are aware of value-add activities undertaken on their behalf.

4.   Learning and imbedding the importance and value of meeting customer needs and expectations throughout your organization:

It is vital that your people stay current with what is happening with their customers’ business and the needs of their individual contacts. This puts everyone in a position to demonstrate that your company is a long-term ally and will always be there to help overcome challenges. Employees need to be in a position to solve problems as they occur and anticipate future challenges, ensuring they are not perceived as simply there to continuously sell the customer something.

Your first goal should be to develop standard customer-focused business processes, using observations of “best in class” within and outside of your company – or even outside of your industry. As you go through this exercise, also put a plan in place to evolve your organization towards focusing on the customer experience:

  • Link the customer experience education process (training, coaching, mentoring) to your vision and strategy. People need to know in what context the change is necessary.
  • Everyone should engage in the re-education process if you expect to change your organizational culture.
  • Set new customer engagement goals for every touch-point. Move away from internal measures towards customer driven metrics that pertain to how customers perceive their relationship with your company – your revenue will reflect your effort.
  • Tie everything together – develop a culture change initiative. At the heart of the change, focus on shifting behaviors to enable more personal accountability for the customer experience. Focus on four behaviors: Personal Ownership, Decisive Action, Risk Consideration and Customer Impact.

Communication is absolutely crucial. Not only downward, but just as importantly, side to side and upward. You need buy-in and support from your colleagues and top leadership – you need them to understand the purpose and direction you are taking and how it will positively impact them personally and the organization. There is no point in recognizing and rewarding behaviors that create high levels of customer engagement if the organizational leadership continues to focus solely on internal, statistical measures.

Major change takes constant reinforcement. The right kind of change – a focus on the customer experience –  gives people the roots to grow and the wings to fly. It’s wonderful to see people develop when thy believe in what they are doing. You have the opportunity to make that happen…

How Will You Make The Customer Experience A Core Strategy In Your Organization? 

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you intend to make the customer experience a key area of focus in your organization. Feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com,  stop by our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com or visit The Global LABB, The Resource For Leaders Across Boundaries & Borders.

sherimackey

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Sheri is The Global Coach, founder of Luminosity Global Consulting Group, Global Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Global Business and Cultural Expert.

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2 responses to Customer Service In Context: A Global Battlefield

  1. The material is incredibly intriguing.

  2. Very nice article, exactly what I wanted to find.

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