Why do some companies seem to rise above the competition and have that “it” factor when their counterparts lag behind? The “it” company has great products or services; they hire “cool” employees and customers simply love them. In fact they often create a tribe of followers.
Researchers and analysts alike have studied these companies and discovered a very intentional approach to the way they view employees and customers. We know that regardless of your service or product, your people (employees) are the key to deliver them. A direct link between customer experience and employee engagement must exist in order to achieve any desired success. The National Business Research Institute reports that, "there is a direct relationship between employee job satisfaction and a customer’s repurchase intention."
Why start with customer experience strategy?
There are many ways to define your company’s customer experience strategy. In fact, this can be a bit of the “chicken vs egg” question: do you begin with your employee or customer strategy? From a business strategy perspective, companies should begin by defining its desired customer experience followed by your employee strategy. By beginning wth this step, you articulate the specific skills sets and experiences your employees must possess in order to deliver your desired customer experience.
Successful organizations recognize how integrated every aspect of the business is:
A great product ensures employees have something to sell well.
Engaged employees save the company money with higher retention and reduced turnover costs.
A clearly defined financial strategy outlines the necessary goals for product development, marketing and sales performance.
In this article, we’ll explore three aspects of a clearly defined customer experience strategy and how it links other aspects of the business.
Customer experience strategy > operational strategy
Southwest Airlines has this to say about themselves on their website: “We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way).” Think about the power of that statement. Company leadership (that’s you) makes its customer service a priority first, then ensures its operational execution (products and people) can effectively and efficiently support that promise. It’s operational excellence is fueled by how to streamline customer transactions (ease to re-book tickets, frequent flyer programs, boarding processes, etc); and, it’s intense selection process of employees seeks to hire the best attitudes then teach those willing attitudes about their role in the airline industry.
“We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way).”
Your defined customer experience will define your ideal employee
Imagine an employee who does not own a smartphone trying to sell an IPhone to a customer? Or visualize an employee who doesn’t like ice cream describing your “flavor of the month” to a customer? While it’s not impossible, it is difficult. And that product/employee mismatch is often the reality many businesses have. Nice employees, even knowledgeable employees; but they struggle to connect with customers and create that WOW! experience because they can’t fully communicate the experience your are trying to create with customers.
When you have a clearly defined customer experience strategy (how you want customers to think about your product, feel about your product and talk about your product), you are creating the building blocks of how the ideal employee can best interact with your customers. Depending on your product or service, the employee profile may include a specific skill set, mindset or even the absence of a certain skill or experience. Your entire employee strategy is based on those standards. You hire relentlessly to them and you promote according to them. And in great companies, that means you don’t select or promote certain people. Perhaps, that’s why so many businesses today have employees who show up but the WOW! factor is missing.
The following graphic demonstrates how Lancome charts its customer interactions.
Authenticity creates magic
This is where the magic happens. When businesses have a clear picture in mind of the experience they want every customer to have; and they have selected employees who are able to create that experience, a unique outcome occurs. That “it” factor occurs. An authentic exchange occurs within and outside the business. Your customers experience something your competition likely does not create for them. Your product or service adds value to them in some way and your employees interact with them in a way that keeps them coming back for more. They care differently. They understand customer problems more in a more in depth way. They are happy to assist in any way and customers know it. It’s a feeling or vibe that keeps customer coming back for more. And that is a story customers want to share.
Magician Sheldon Casavant shares the interesting phenomena that occurs in the human mind when we experience magic.
Strategy, intentionality and authenticity never happen by accident. And for businesses who want to be successful in today’s marketplace, they will take the time to create these disciplines. And when they do, they become a company customers can’t stop talking about.
Do you want keep learning about this topic? Our video segments are designed to take these conversations a bit deeper. In this video, we talk about the importance of creating authenticity in your employee behavior.
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Tony Bodoh and Kayla Barrett co-authored and published the #1 best-selling book, "The Complete Experience: Unlocking the secrets of online reviews that drive customer loyalty." Learn more about the coaching, consulting and services they offer at www.TheCompleteExperience.com.