I wrote this on the plane last week as I was on my way to New York to spend a few days with pals. And having been in the US a few times over the years, I was pondering customer service. Because, whether you like how it’s done over there or not, they do have a strong service culture.
But is it right that we always put the customer first?
I don’t believe so.
And Richard Branson agrees. He was one of the first business leaders to publicly (and rather unfashionably I’d say) call it out - “Learn to look after your staff first and the rest will follow”.
The ‘why’ is pretty obvious if you ask me. If you’ve created a dog-eat-dog company culture with poor quality managers leading largely disengaged people, I can only imagine what your customers will experience. You’re fighting a losing battle every day to ensure that your people are doing the right things for your customers.
Just think for a second about what it would be like to work in a company that was the polar opposite. How much easier would it be to deliver customer service in an authentic, honest and human way.
The strong link between people and strong customer experience (CX) performance was called out at a briefing I attended a fortnight or so ago.
The CX Company was presenting the findings from its 2017 Irish CX Report, calling out the best and worst companies, as rated by their customers. We learned that people loved the Credit Unions, Lush and An Post but are less enamored with brands like Phonewatch, Insomnia and PrepayPower.ie (who are at the bottom of the list). You can read the full results here.
As part of the briefing, the company’s MD, Michael Killeen, highlighted eight things companies needed to focus on in 2018 if they really wanted to improve customer experience.
It was interesting – though not surprising - to note that five of the eight were directly related to people:
Staff first, not customer – Do the things that make your company a great place to work. Listen to staff experiences and ask them to help find the things that get in the way of great customer experience. By doing so you create a really engaging workplace where your people WANT to do the right thing for your customers.
Keep staff in the loop – Create and roll out a strong communications strategy; and develop engaging leaders who can help their teams to see how their roles fit with delivering amazing customer experience. Tell the stories of great customer experiences and put those who delivered it on a pedestal; explain why what they did was amazing and show others how to replicate it.
Staff culture eats business strategy – If you want to deliver your business strategy, first create an engaging culture where staff have a voice and feel appreciated.
Give a damn - Creating a culture where your people go the extra mile makes a huge difference for your customers. The very smallest of things can make a huge difference to how that person feels after their interaction with your company.
Bring emotion to work – To offer a truly great and human customer experience, your people need to bring their whole selves to work - their emotions and feelings choice among them. As Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
None of this is rocket science really. It’s all pretty common sense.
But that’s the funny thing about common sense – it isn’t all that common is it?
You have a nice day now. ;-)
I’ll be running another masterclass on ‘Creating a Culture of Change’ on 21st March in the Irish Aviation Authority in Dublin. You can find out more and book tickets by clicking here.
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