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How to Deliver Sustained CX Performance

“You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” ~Napoleon Hill

Customer Experience (CX) is about more than designing how you engage technically with your customers. It needs to focus on how each customer or service user feels about your organization. It is good to remember that, without customers, your organization would not exist.

The organization matters in its entirety, from the boardroom to the front line end even beyond, to service partner organizations, local communities and investors. A singular focus on CX can lead to poor employee engagement. Similarly, the most brilliant employee engagement strategy in isolation will not work. Achieving alignment across all areas, understanding the organization as one single entity, rather than a series of silos, is a critical step on the path to delivering sustained performance.

Never stop measuring

It sounds obvious, but many organizations miss out on vital data and understanding because of a lack of systems and processes to measure, track and improve the experience of everyone that has contact with the organization.

‘Measurement and insight are expensive.’ is often used as a reason or excuse for a lack of customer data. But this pure cost perspective misses the point because it is the value of this data that needs to be recognised. CX data is a critical component of understanding the financial health of the business. It can provide insight into how to sustain, scale and grow your business.

Measuring and understanding CX might seem expensive and time consuming, but the value of the data is priceless. Imagine creating a customer experience journey so that any problems that arise are flagged in real time, and dealt with immediately, before they can negatively impact your brand reputation. By continuously collecting and measuring data, you can deepen and widen your measurement pool. There is a caveat, always remember that data is only useful if it is used to make decisions. There is no value in collecting data for the sake of it. What decisions does your organization make with the CX data collected?

Little and often

It can be hard to know where to begin, there are so many different metrics to measure, how will you know which ones matter?

You won’t. Not until you start measuring, capturing, analysing and making decisions. Then it will become clear which data is useful in creating successful CX strategies and which is superfluous.

If you are really struggling, begin with direct customer feedback. Consider carefully how best to collect this information because the method will vary according to the setting, organization and context. This might be a customer survey in a hotel or restaurant (hard copy, electronic or QR code), it could be a push button smiley face rating as you leave the security area at an airport and some organizations hold customer events to proactively seek feedback in a less structured format. Any time a customer or service user engages with you, feedback about their experience is valuable, what was great and what could have been better.

If you can make this an integral part of the service delivery, customers will feel engaged and you will keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Once again, there is an alarm bell to be aware of: always think from the customer perspective eg customers might not appreciate being requested to complete a survey every time they use their credit or debit card!

Anonymous or not?

We don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer here. The focus needs to be on receiving honest feedback and there might be a place for both anonymous and attributed feedback. For example, in this age of social media, sometimes customers want a very public resolution to their issues, queries, and complaints. In this situation, the faster and more personally you deal with the situation, the better your customer’s experience is likely to be and other people will have a positive view of your organization.

On the other hand, some customers are reluctant to confront issues they find uncomfortable, and this is where anonymous ways to give feedback can be helpful. Take for example a regular guest at a global hotel chain. They might like the chain, generally but have issues with the behaviour of some service personnel in certain hotels. Having a way to share their feelings, without it becoming personal or facing reprisals, will give customers the courage to speak honestly about their experiences.

Happy employees make for happy customers

J. Willard Marriott said “Take good care of your employees, and they’ll take good care of your customers”. One of the best ways to improve customer experience, is to ensure your employees are happy and engaged. The feedback principles used for CX are just as relevant here. Survey and meet with your employees frequently, formally and less formally. Ensuring their feel heard and valued, will enable them to communicate that same feeling to every customer they meet.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in an all-encompassing approach to customer experience strategy. If you are struggling with aligning the whole of your business or just want to improve one area such as measurement and insight, get in touch to see how we might help you develop your customer experience strategy.

Values Driven Organizations

“It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it” Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, 1982

Putting values at the centre of everything an organization does is the starting point to create a strong and authentic brand. This is particularly relevant for service organizations where people are a core element of their proposition. But the focus on values needs to be sincere and authentic rather than a lip service PR campaign.

Setting clear organizational values shapes business culture, supports your organization’s purpose and vision, and gives employees a set of guiding behaviours that align real time decisions with aspired values. This provides the foundation for sustained business performance over time.

Without values at the heart of decision making, an organization will struggle to establish a consistent brand identity. It will not be delivering brand aligned customer service. Customers, employees, and other stakeholders will be, at best, confused and, at worst, seeking to engage with other organizations.

What are Values?

A value is an emotionally laden motivator that influences action and behaviour. The world would be a very dull place if everyone embodied the same values or held the exact same beliefs. But there is power in setting a standard among a workforce for certain ideals and beliefs that you wish them to emulate while representing your organization.

Values work best when they are the felt essence of what the organization aspires to be. Picking a set of values out of thin air or copying what other organizations are doing will not generate the desired positive results.

Your organization’s values should be a true reflection of the beliefs that drive you towards your organization’s purpose or reason for being and the achievement of your mission.

Making the right choices

Every year, large sums of money are wasted on employee oversight, constantly training, supervising, and correcting employees to do and say the right things. When you set out your values clearly and reinforce them, it helps employees to connect to and understand how you want to achieve your purpose.

You want the people representing your organization to be guided by a strong belief in the organization’s values. This will enable quick, consistent, and confident behaviour and decisions. It will avoid wasted time on several levels: individually, of colleagues and more senior leaders, and for customers or service users.

Making the right choices should also apply to your recruitment processes. It is far easier to hire and retain employees that share similar values as a part of their inherent nature, than it is to train people to embody values that are strange them.

If you can communicate why your organization exists and fill it with people whose personal values align with your professional ones, you’ll be well on your way to consistent growth and financial success. It is also important to state that this approach does not mean that you need to sacrifice diversity. Far from it. To take a simple example, imagine all the contributions that can be made by people from varied backgrounds, with different levels of knowledge and experience to promoting the value of ‘excellence’ in an organization.

Beware mixed messages

Mixed messages can kill customer experience and employee engagement. The values you live by and hire for will form your organizational culture. If the message isn’t consistent, employees will feel confused or marginalised and underappreciated when they see behaviours that are inconsistent with the espoused set of values.

The same is true for your customers. Every customer should be getting a consistent interaction informed by the values and associated behaviours of your organization. This is part of what makes large chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s so successful. It makes them a safe and preferred choice, no matter where you are in the world.

Motivated people motivate

Employees who believe in your purpose, vision, and values, really are the greatest asset you can have. At an individual level, you are more likely to retain them for longer periods of time, they often work harder, and with a lot less oversight and management. The sense of shared values with colleagues enables better teamwork and collaboration.

It is good to remember that perception of the organization (by any stakeholder) is strongly influenced by interactions with your employees. It is much more influential than advertising and marketing. Customers remember how your employees made them feel. Customers and service users who are aligned to your values are also far more likely to be loyal and be ambassadors for your organization.

When values are used well, all the employees in an organization exemplify them in their day-to-day behaviour. As a result, customers and other stakeholders who interact with your organization understand what you stand for and your organization’s reputation and brand is enhanced. Why would any leader invest an annual salary in an employee who is not reinforcing the organization’s values in this way?

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in putting values at the centre of organizational growth. When you can connect your values to actions and behaviours that embody them, you are on your way to supporting the achievement of your organization’s mission. If you are struggling to identify the values for your business, failing from too many attempts to copy the competition, sceptical about the danger of being seen as paying lip service to a set of values ‘on the wall’, or just unsure how to embed values in your organization, let’s explore what SERVICEBRAND Global can do for you.

Values as a Competitive Differentiator

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…” Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

It is no secret that we live in an oversaturated market for many products and services. Every day, businesses and organizations compete for our attention. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, product placement and subliminal messaging.

As a result, the majority of us forget a brand’s advertising attempts within three days of seeing it. The functionality of intelligent tools that let us search for whatever we need, whenever we need it, also plays a roll in this mass forgetting. We don’t need to remember where anything was or if it was good, because we have tools to access all that information.

So, if people aren’t really connecting to the branding and marketing for your products and services, how can you maintain their loyalty for the long term?

Setting up for success

Brand awareness can be complicated to measure correctly. Especially if you are unsure about what to measure in the first place, or how to properly extract meaningful insights from the data you gather.

Your connection to your customers and service users is about more than the product or service you are trying to sell them. People need a sense of feeling that they can connect with. They like to feel like their purchasing decisions matter and are more likely to support organizations whose values align closely with their own.

Do you know what your organization values? Is there a set of well thought out and simply defined values that are core to the way you do business? Critically, are those values communicated in a consistent way, not just verbally, but in every action and behaviour across the organization?

Benefits of knowing your Values

There is near limitless choice for customers. Anything we want we can get, and from multiple organizations.

We are motivated by story lines and remember them far longer, for the way they made us feel, than if we are told a series of facts about the product or service. The cost or functionality of a product or service can be replicated easily by competitors. When your organizational values are the foundation of every interaction your customers will have with you, they become a powerful differentiator which is not easily copied.

Consistency is key

Having values that set you apart is only as good as your ability to send that message to your customers and other stakeholders in a consistent way. The experience someone is having of your organization should reflect your values in action and behaviour and it should be the same at every point of service. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but when your organization gets this right, it will help you to improve stakeholder loyalty and performance and drive sustained profitability.

Finding the flow

Imagine a time when everyone in your organization is in full alignment with your values. Your employees don’t have to wait or go through countless steps of approval before acting. They embody and live your organizational values in every moment of their working day. They are clear about the behaviours expected and what is not acceptable. They are trusted to do the right thing without micromanagement.

The key to achieving this outcome is alignment across the areas of Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, supported by Systems & Processes and Measurement & Insight. This is the SERVICEBRAND approach which has delivered measurable success across a balanced scorecard of business measures for organizations in different sectors, of different sizes and in different geographies.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe that your organizational values set you apart. We can help you figure out the values sitting at the heart of your mission and show you how to bring these to life with all stakeholders. When used well, values can build transform business performance. Why not see what we can do for you?

Tools to Manage Customer Unhappiness

Is it admirable to pursue a business model or strategic plan that aims to ensure all your customers are happy all the time? Or is this approach unrealistic, leaving your organization open to criticism and self-doubt when faced with genuine customer dissatisfaction and unhappiness?

It is perfectly natural for customers and service users to be upset, frustrated, or annoyed from time to time. Sometimes this will be because of a specific incident with your organization. Other times, their interaction with you, was merely the last straw, before they reached their tipping point. The building frustration might have been caused just by your organization or by your organization and others. And sometimes, the issue might be related to other factors the customer is dealing with that has nothing at all to do with your organization.

Managing the unhappiness of others is complicated enough at a personal level, let alone in a professional setting. Knowing how to de-escalate difficult situations, with understanding, empathy, and emotional intelligence, gives the best chance of even the most unhappy customers being willing to give you another chance and remain loyal to your brand. To encourage you to strive for this, research indicates that customers who have had a problem resolved well are more loyal than customers who have had no issue in the first place.

What not to do

We have all had a bad customer experience and you can probably think of recent examples with little effort. Some businesses and brands seem to have a mindset that you can’t please everyone and don’t try very hard to mitigate customer unhappiness (anyone thinking budget airlines here?)

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” This explains why we feel unhappiness to a greater degree when let down personally or by an organization or service that we believed had good character. Our values play a key role in how we align ourselves to others. When something we trusted to behave a certain way lets us down, we feel that far more acutely than with an organization we know has a poor track record.

Set the tone

It is often the case that we don’t recognise what matters to us until we feel the lack of it. Empathy is one such critical value, whose absence is felt deeply. 83% of people want to feel connected with organizations in a compassionate and empathic way. Lack of empathy is cited as a motivating factor in switching business to a competitor.

Before you can resolve any potential issues, your customers must be able to trust that you will listen to them when they try to voice their dissatisfaction. Becoming confrontational, adversarial, aggressive, or rude to customers that are unhappy, risks losing them forever. One way to communicate this within the organization is that complaints, dissatisfaction, and constructive criticism are precious and welcomed. This feedback is what helps the organization to improve the service delivered to customers. If you know about it, you can take action. If you don’t know, you cannot take action. The following six step model has been used in demanding customer service environments with remarkable results:

Listen

The first step in dealing with an unhappy customer is to listen to them. Don’t talk over them, rush them, or immediately try to prove why they are wrong. Foster a deeper understanding by truly listening to why they feel so hurt and unhappy.

When people feel heard, they feel valued. A customer that feels valued and understood is far more likely to be forgiving and remain loyal to you. Keep yourself open to hearing their truth. We all interpret truth in different ways. Even if you immediately know the customer is mistaken, they will likely have been holding a great deal of tension around talking with you. If you cut them off before they can explain and release it, that angry, sadness and frustration are likely to come out anyway, often directed towards the customer service agent or call handler instead.

Empathize
Once you have listened to the customer and understood how they feel about the situation, you can show empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Demonstrate how you care about their feelings and the situation and want to help them. Customers respond to honesty. When you act with humility and understanding, it becomes easier for them to understand that even if you aren’t sure, you are actively willing to help them resolve their issue. It shows you care and will work to achieve the best possible outcome for them.

Apologize
This does not mean that you and your organization are accepting responsibility for every situation. It is your apology for the customer experiencing an unpleasant situation with negative emotions. Of course, if your organization is clearly at fault, it is best to own up to this.

React
Respond quickly, so that customers feel someone is watching out for them. Even a simple acknowledgement to buy time to diagnose the customer’s issue can help. Second, don’t shy away from responding to unhappy customers, even if you can’t immediately resolve their issue. Finally, even small gestures such as having agents sign their names or initials creates immediate value for your business. How Customer Service Can Turn Angry Customers into Loyal Ones

Notify
It is of limited benefit for customer issues to be resolved, even successfully, if other customers continue to experience similar problems. There needs to be a process in the organization to capture the details of what has happened, identify the root cause and take corrective action.
It can also be helpful to notify the customer of the improvements made so that they understand how the issue they raised has been dealt with and other customers will not have the same poor experience.

The above approach is referred to as the LEARN model and at a working session with a group of hospitality managers one of the attendees suggested a final additional step which has been added to form the LEARNT model. This is to thank the customer for raising the matter in the first place, expressing the importance of knowing about issues so that action can be taken.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global we believe in dealing with customer unhappiness and frustration in an open, empathic, and honest way. We recognise the importance of customer loyalty and consider lifetime value rather than focus on short term costs. We also strive for customers to play the role of advocates for organizations rather than the role of a saboteur. This is of particular importance in our super connected world of the internet and social media where customers can communicate their thoughts and feelings in a heartbeat to millions oof people around the world…. And you have no idea of their reach.

You might be experiencing high levels of customer complaints or low levels of customer loyalty. Or you just might be curious to know what the positive impact on business performance could be of improved customer service and loyalty. Either way, get in touch to see how we could help you build better practices in your organization.

Cultural Alignment


Understanding the terminology around Culture, Values and Alignment can be a challenge. This is a highly subjective area and, as such, every leader, employee, service partner and customer might have a different perspective on what certain words mean and which behaviours are appropriate or not.

Can your Values align with that of the organization without being a cultural fit? Or do you have to fit in with the company culture to be aligned with the organization?

What do you mean?

Being a cultural fit can be interpreted in different ways, but at its heart, the meaning is about how well an individual fits in with the rest of the organization, while retaining their authentic and normal self. The trouble starts when different individuals champion their understanding of what fits as the only right way or feel forced to change their everyday behaviours to fit in with other people.

It is a fine balance, but the bottom line is that speaking to the nature of your culture doesn’t make it so. This is especially the case if customers and employees are having a different experience entirely.
On the one hand, leaning too heavily on one idea of what organizational culture should be can cause problems. Sometimes it helps to investigate the true personality or nature of the organization’s culture from all perspectives. On the other hand, leadership need to grasp that it is their responsibility to create the desired culture and can have a strong influence. We love the quote from Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker that “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

The right people

The happier and more connected employees feel while working, the more likely they are to remain with your organization and to be consistently productive. Just because someone is occupying physical space doesn’t mean they are interested or engaged to be there. Take the time to find people that really connect with and love what they are doing. It is not rocket science that this investment of time is paid back over and over again.

Employees that aren’t a good cultural fit can also be damaging to the overall health of the organization. When people don’t mesh well together, conflict and toxic behaviours arise that can spread quickly. In a short time, there can be a widespread bad feeling about engaging with the business, even with those who are a good cultural fit.

What culture fit isn’t

Organizations seeking to create culture-based hiring strategies often look to the skills and personalities of their ‘successful’ (through one lens of success) people. They think it will be a simple process to identify those traits and then match external applicants against them.

The big problem with basing culture fit on skills and personality is that you end up with carbon copy employees that think and act in incredibly similar ways. Diversity is a proven generator of innovation. Having a wide mix of differing personalities, skills, and abilities, creates the ideal melting pot for continued growth and longevity within an organization.

Desiring a specific kind of culture, should never amount to creating barriers that certain people cannot pass. When companies like Abercrombie and Fitch for example created their ‘look policy’ a toxic culture of exclusion was created for anyone that didn’t fit that mould. Now this policy has finally been removed, it opens the way for innovators to rebuild the brand into something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The Value of Values

So, if designing culture around personality can lead to problems, and the same is true for skills, what can you do?

Values are the best starting point for any cultural design. When you study and understand what it is you truly Value and how your organization wants to bring that Value to the world, you create the perfect beacon with which to attract other likeminded people to share in your vision.

People can share common Values while embodying a multitude of different skills and personality types. If your organization designs its cultural fit around Values alignment, you’ll end up with the best people for you, all working towards a common goal.

In this way the gender divide, the age gap, reductive beliefs around people with disabilities in the workplace, all fall away in pursuit of finding people that live the way of being you value the most.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in placing Values at the heart of everything an organization does. Whether you already know what your Values are, or if you are at the beginning of your journey and would like to identify your values, we can assist in the creation and implementation of strategic designs that see your organization create the best cultural alignment possible. The key is alignment across the organization, vertically and horizontally. We have specific proven tools and approaches to do this. If you are stuck in a toxic situation or just wish to understand a bit more about the Value of Values, why not connect with us and see what we can do for you?

Sustainable Organizations and Values

“A sustainable business is resource efficient, respects the environment and is a good neighbor.” (Phil Harding )

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, and keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

There is no universally agreed definition of what sustainability means. There are many different views on what it is and how it can be achieved. The idea of sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the world’s first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The original definition of sustainable development, according to the Brundtland Report of 1987, is usually considered to be “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition.

Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating long-term value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities, etc. – and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

Sustainability on the move

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity. As an indicator, ESG news in April 2020 had almost double the coverage compared to November 2019. Investors are anticipated to spend $1 billion on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth).

BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed. In June 2020, global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative that aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

The triple bottom line theory expands the traditional accounting framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of a company. These three bottom lines are often referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. B Corps are businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. B Corporation certification (assessed by the not-for-profit B Lab) is given to for-profit organizations that achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards. B Corps have been around in the USA since 2007, with brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia achieving certification.

To date, there are over 3,000 Certified B Corps in 150 industries and 70 countries, and over 70,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. B Lab was named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020, landing at number five in the not-for-profit sector list. Since UK B Corps was launched in 2015, members have experienced an average 14% year-on-year growth rate (national economic growth 0.5%).
Values are the key

We believe that the reason this movement and B Corp companies perform so well is because they are creating a sense of shared values with all stakeholders, especially customers and employees. There is a growing body of research showing that there is a strong link between financial performance and values-driven organizations.

“Without exception, the dominance and coherence of culture proved to be an essential quality of the excellent companies.” (Tom Peters and Robert Waterman )

The key point here is that values must be alive to add value. We use the phrase ‘values are for living, not laminating’ because all too often in organizations, values are just words (and the same ones from one organization to the next) but they do not translate into practices or ‘the way things work around here.’ A recent study revealed that there is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees. The SERVICEBRAND framework helps to make this happen at several levels:

• The Brand Identity Element identifies the organization’s purpose and values
• The activities in the Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements are explicitly informed by the purpose and values
• The activities in the Systems & Processes Element are consciously designed to support the first three Elements
• The Measurement & Insight Element helps to identify a range of whole-system metrics to monitor, assess and guide performance

This is how using the SERVICEBRAND approach can help to deliver sustained performance over time.
What implications does the topic of sustainability have for your implementation of the SERVICEBRAND approach and each of the five Elements? What opportunities does it present? What challenges and obstacles will you need to overcome?

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling and battling with the creation of sustainable strategies and processes, why not see what SERVICEBRAND Global can do to help. We believe in connecting people with their true values so they can be of service to the world around them, while still turning a profit.

Organizational Alignment and Growth

Organizations are becoming more aware of the value alignment can bring in increasing profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. Research suggests that highly aligned organizations are 72% more profitable and grow revenue 58% faster than non-aligned ones. When your strategic plan, company culture, employees and customers are all aligned with your purpose and values, the chances of growth are significantly enhanced.

So how do you choose which area to focus on first? Knowing where to start building alignment can be a challenge.

Slow down to arrest momentum

Understandably, many leaders start with energy and enthusiasm to develop new strategies to create improved alignment. However, one area that is frequently overlooked is the impact of the ‘status quo’. How are your current strategic plans affecting organizational culture, customer experience and employee engagement? If misaligned strategies have been pulling your business off course, it is important to deal with these. ‘There’s no point hoisting new sails if you’re still laying anchor.’

The key here is to understand the impact of a change in one specific area on other parts of the organization. For example, if you put in place a productivity initiative to enable call centre team members to handle more calls, what is the knock-on impact on their behaviour and, ultimately customer perception/satisfaction?

When you begin to understand the interplay between all parts of your organization, it makes it easier to identify points of friction and drag. These challenges can be expensive in terms of money, time, effort, morale, and employee turnover and impede growth and development of the organization.

Building on strategies

Having a clear strategy will help provide direction for everybody in the organization. A focus on the purpose and values of the business will provide a strong foundation to build a strategy on. It will create a compelling reason for employees to want to work with you, and for customers and service users to want to engage with you. However, an inspiring vision on its own is not enough. It must be supported with a strategic plan that is believable and achievable.

There will be issues with an alignment approach if leaders are not honest and transparent about their motivating factors. For example, it is fine to have a focus on profitability but, if this is the case, avoid stating your vision and purpose as being one of service to the community just because you are trying to create a harmonious and aligned culture.

Take time to consider deeply what it is you are offering, and why. When you truly know the why, finding people that are interested in achieving that same purpose will become easier. Once employees are in alignment with your purpose and values, they can become the best sales force and brand ambassadors you could ask for.

Alignment and Culture

One of the reasons alignment fails is the lack of harmony between the espoused culture employees and customers think they are engaging with and how things operate in reality. Time should be taken to capture measurement and insight about the perceptions of various stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, investors, local communities) and their behaviour (through monitoring and observation).

Organization culture exists, whether this is by default or by conscious design, is up to you. How can you expect to scale your business as successfully as brands like McDonalds or Starbucks, if you don’t understand how everything is planned? Why would anybody expect to create alignment, assist flow, and make scaling and growth a natural and inevitable result, rather than something that is a constant struggle?

High performance needs high performers

Growth comes when we find the right people to tend to our vision. People that share the same or similar ideals and values to us, that can find a home and purpose by aligning themselves with our organisation.

Values are difficult to teach. It is far easy to make it clear what you stand for and let people who feel the same come to you. How you attract employees and engage them will play a key role in driving their performance and thus your growth. If you’re company culture or strategic planning are lacking, alignment will quickly dip, as the employee realises your organisation isn’t the beacon, they had been looking for to help achieve their own desires for a meaningful and purposeful life.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in fully understanding the relationship between alignment and growth. We want to help organizations understand what is holding them back and how to create strategies, cultures and performance that will keep them on the cutting edge of their chosen industry. If you are looking for help in understanding how to elevate your organization to one of consistent alignment and growth, why not see what we can do for you?

Problem Resolution and Customer Experience

An enormous number of customer interactions are related purely to the resolution of an issue the customer has with your organization. How well you make yourself available to your customers, and how well you can resolve the problems defines how much trust and loyalty those customers are likely to place in your organization. Ultimately, it can make the difference between retaining and losing a customer.

Complex answers to simple problems

Customers often contact your organization to seek solutions, find out information, query something they don’t understand, or challenge an issue they have had in the use, purchase, or access of your service. Automated phone services and online chat bots are a useful application of technology. But the focus needs to be on enhancing the customer experience, not cutting costs.

Having AI assisted customer service can be efficient and effective. This happens when it is fully able to understand and resolve queries and complaints. On the other hand, giving general and unhelpful feedback frustrates customers as much, if not more, as waiting on hold to speak in person to an agent.

Remember that you do not define your customers’ expectations. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in convenience (Amazon leading the way), use of mobile transactions and direct-to-consumer delivery models. As a result, customers’ expectations have risen. They compare your speed of delivery or response to Amazon, your mobile interface with Uber and your delivery model with Apostrophe.

Balancing customer experience

On average, customers and service users will tell between 9 and 14 people about a positive experience they have had with an organization. They will tell between 15 and 21 people when they have had a negative customer experience. When this is multiplied across every customer suffering the same issues it can rapidly and dramatically affect the profitability and reputation of the organization.

While it is the dream of every organization to have perfect relationships with their customers, this isn’t realistic. You can, however, balance the needs of customers against the potential weight of their negative criticism. This is where AI can come into its own in providing you with the insight so that you can make conscious choices about how individual customers are managed.

By filtering complaints as quickly as possible (probably to a human being), you dramatically offset the likelihood of that customer being a brand detractor and speaking ill of your organization.

Refining your strategies

When you build a strategy centred around resolving customer complaints, firstly on an individual level, then on an organizational one, you dramatically reduce the likelihood of repeated customer complaints about the same problem.

This requires a counter intuitive mindset and healthy communication within the organization. Issues and complaints from customers can be welcomed if you treat them as an opportunity to improve your business. The customer’s problem is your organization’s problem and with detailed feedback you can identify and correct the issue.

Marriott used a problem resolution model attributed to Walt Disney which considers two elements: first the impact on the guest and secondly the degree of responsibility of the hotel.

By way of examples:

1) There is a rain shower as a guest is accompanied to their car. Low impact, low responsibility – EMPATHY: “I hope you will dry off quickly and have a safe drive home”.
2) A guest goes to their room and a light bulb is out. Low impact, high responsibility – FIX IT: “Thank you for letting us know and apologies. I will see that it is replaced immediately. When is the best time for you?”
3) Wine is spilt on a guest’s jacket. High impact, high responsibility – RED CARPET: “I am so sorry. The Housekeeper can deal with this now or, if you prefer to keep your jacket, please have it dry cleaned and send me the receipt so you can be reimbursed.”
4) A guest has travelled to the airport and left their passport in the room. High impact, low responsibility – HERO: “Yes, we found the passport in your room and my colleague is on the way to the airport now. We have checked traffic information and flight times and you will be in time for your flight. Let me confirm your mobile number so he can contact you when he arrives.”

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in refining the customer experience by removing as much friction as possible. We can help you to develop strategies that will dramatically improve the overall customer experience and reduce the number of complaints you are receiving, by taking an organization wide approach. Why not see how we might help you win more new customers, retain existing customers and convert customers into brand ambassadors.

Jumpstarting Customer Trust

Building customer loyalty requires trust. On the surface this sounds simple and the anonymous quote “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair” reinforces this one-dimensional approach. Here, we will explore why trust is important but more complex than is often portrayed.

The power of the customer

While the act of selling a product or service has become intensely personal, the reputation of your organization is still a collectively understood entity. The impact of how you treat and respect your customers is not limited to their own purchasing behaviour. It can also spread to existing and potential new customers via reviews and word of mouth. The internet and social media have turned up the volume regarding communication. We can now share our feelings and comments with millions of people all over the world in a heartbeat.

Developing a trusting relationship with your customers and service users is made even more difficult by the ever-changing nature of the customer market. Mass-marketing started in the 1980’s, where organizations hired advertisers to convince the consumer of their needs and desires. This has been replaced to a certain extent with more tailored, individual, and personalised customer experiences.

So how do you get customers to trust you, when by their very nature, they all have different ideals and expectations of the services they seek?

Putting the customer first

Over 75% of customers and service users expect a personal service when engaging with any brand or organization, not only during their first interaction, but in all subsequent ones. Using outsourced, cheap AI, or call centres, shows a lack of desire to create a customer first, service driven business.
More money is lost every year through ‘money saving’ schemes and cost-cut outsourcing than would be lost over the lifetime of an organization that focused on building lifelong loyalty from fewer, but trusted customers. You might gain substantial profits in the short term, but these businesses rarely have real long-term viability.

Hiring employees that are customer focused and customer friendly is key. Yes, every customer might have different desires. Well trained and adaptable customer facing employees can create a bond with each individual customer.

If customers and service users can’t get in touch with your organization, can’t log or register complaints, or can’t get their queries resolved easily, don’t be fooled by the silence. These customers might never use your service again, they might become negative ambassadors, actively talking down your business to everyone they meet.

Take care with your data collection strategy. What message are you sending if, for example, you don’t give customers the ability to customize the data you collect from them, or the ability to decide which tracking cookies can follow them around the internet after using your service? It might appear that your ability to mine personal information is more important to you than the customers’ awareness, choice and privacy. If, on the other hand, you are open and provide clear choices, and behave appropriately with the information, the customer will begin to develop a trusting bond with you.

The customer is always right

This is not in the sense that you should always do everything your customers demand. However, 9 in 10 people trust what other customers say about an organization, more than what the organization says about itself. Customers are therefore potential brand ambassadors… as well as potential brand destroyers.

This is why it is so important to collect customer and service user feedback and be transparent with this information. Your customers can trust you have nothing to hide.

The good and bad, reflect the true experience each customer has had with your organization. In some cases, it might have been a one-off, in others it might indicate a further ingrained systemic issues that needs to be trained out.

Either way, by championing transparency, customers are more likely to trust you. Especially if they have had a really positive experience despite a few negative reviews, it will communicate that you actively listen, address, and resolve those issues for future customers.

Some businesses are tempted to manufacture or ‘manage’ the feedback, but, once again, the truth will get out, probably faster than you thought possible, and where will that leave your customers’ levels of trust?

The wrinkle

We believe that the impact of time on trust is overstated. Instead, the key driver is the quality of trust gained and trust lost.

Also, reputation and trust are often confused. Having a “good reputation” doesn’t say much about trust. For most of us, ‘trusting’ a company just means we like their products, or ‘trust’ them not to violate laws. That’s a pretty low bar.

When an organization becomes involved in a scandal, we lose trust in those companies quickly – not because trust loss is quick, but because there wasn’t much trust there to begin with. Take a very personal example of a long-term trusted friend who doesn’t show up for a meeting as planned. Depending on their level of responsibility and the impact on you, you might choose to brush it off or you might treat the matter more seriously. The key point here is that whether loss of trust happens quickly or slowly is a function of how much trust we had, the impact of the violation and where the responsibility lay: it is not a function of the calendar.

SERVICEBRAND

Building customer trust is not easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it much better. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we can help you understand a true and honest picture of the state of your organization. Let us help you get connected to the heart of your business. A little trust goes a long way, why not see what we can do for you.

Why Do Organizational Values Matter?

There are numerous benefits for organizations in declaring a set of core values that embody the way you wish to go about achieving your mission or purpose. Driving collaboration and teamwork between likeminded individuals is one. Streamlining decision-making process by aligning everyone with the same ideals about the way the organization does business is another.

One of the most powerful aspects of having a strong set of organizational values is the ability to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your stakeholders. This is the case for customers, employees, service partners, investors and local communities. In the emerging paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy, successful organizations will establish a sense of shared values with all stakeholder groups. When everyone knows what your organization believes in and trusts you mean it, they have no reason to go anywhere to have their needs met. Nothing creates brand loyalty faster than trust.

Who are you?

Around 82% of people believe that a good and well understood set of values can give an organization a competitive edge. It is no wonder that so many leaders are desperate to tick this box.

But simply laminating some words and putting them up on the wall, doesn’t create a successful values-based organization. To know what you value, you must first know what you stand for. Our values are never more consciously present than when they are being tested, or when we succeed.

You cannot copy another organization’s values and expect to achieve the same outcomes. Effective values statements reflect the truth at the heart of the company. They are unique and not transferrable.

It is important to follow a robust process to explore the essence of the organization. Why does the organization exist? What does it hold true to the core and will never give up? What differentiates it from others? If you are people driven, your values will reflect this, and, if you are profit driven, that is fine too. Values are neither good nor bad, they are an expression of what matters to us. For example, if money/financial performance/return on shareholder value is important above all else, it is better to be honest about this. You might discourage some people, but you will also attract the kind of customers and service users who are aligned with that kind of value ideal. What is critical is to avoid a situation where you claim that the organization stands for something and then does not live up to this with behaviours and decisions that are made by employees (all levels).

Who do we want to be?

Once you know who you are, it is easier to decide where you would like to go. You can develop a purpose statement and set of values that will serve as a beacon for every stakeholder that engages with your organization. Now is the time for clarity and simplicity. Have confidence in the words used by the people in your organization rather than feel drawn to copy and paste other people’s values. The words need to be yours. Then when you have the concise wording, give thought to how this can be communicated to every person in the organization and, more importantly, put into practice.

Community Culture

Organizations are effectively a community, comprising of the various stakeholder groups. Just like in the rest of the world, there are healthy, flourishing communities and less healthy ones. When you articulate your values, it makes it easier for likeminded people to find and align themselves with your purpose and what you stand for.

The notion of improvement and growth is applied and understood in most areas of business. So how do you apply this to the area of values in your organization? What perception do your various stakeholders have of how well your organization’s employees live up to the stated values? If you do not know the answer to this question, how can you take action to make improvements? If your values are important to you, why would you not measure your performance? We offer a corevaluescore survey which provides a snapshot of stakeholder perception of the way in which your organizational values are lived in practice.

Remember that, as with personal values, organizational values might adapt, change, and grow. Over time, the organization will be presented with new situations, opportunities, and challenges. Sometimes the core values will remain the same but might manifest themselves in different ways. In certain situations, you might feel that there is a need to re-examine or refresh your values. The key point is, from time to time, to ask the question “Are our values (and associated behaviours) still relevant and reflect our essence?”

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe strongly in the power of organizational values. We have been delivering award-winning projects with measurable impact in this area internationally and in UK for nearly twenty years. When values are done well, they create shining beacons for employees, customers, and all stakeholders to follow. Not only that but values aligned employees and customers have much higher productivity and loyalty. You might be right at the start of your values journey or feel that it is time for a refresh, or you might be struggling to embed your values effectively in practice. Whatever stage you are at, we would love to help you take the next step so why not connect with SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL to see how we might help you create a healthier, values-driven company culture… in practice.

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