Tag: customer experience

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.

Creating Positive Organizational Culture

Culture is one of the key elements contributing to organizational success. A strong and sustainable culture makes it much easier to attract the kind of employees that fit. More importantly, it will keep them engaged. This will help you retain skilled and talented employees for longer.

Organizations that succeed in creating healthy workplace cultures, often find themselves a cut above the competition.

Where to begin?

It can be hard to know where to start, and difficult to admit that you might be getting it wrong. All too often we see organizations championing values like honesty, accountability, and respect. Yet, in the day to day, we do not see these values put into practice.

Employees that are punished for their honesty, are less like to be honest again. Unfair and uneven processes of accountability often breed resentment and demotivate employees from trying to do the right thing. Respect is a two-way street. You cannot demand what you refuse to give.

When starting the journey to a healthy and positive organizational culture, you must first consider what really matters to you. What is your organization’s purpose and values? Clarity about what you are trying to achieve and the way in which you want to achieve it provides a guiding compass that will sustain your business on its journey to success.

The value of different points of view

It is valuable to gain insight into what is important to a wide range of stakeholders, especially employees. This might be straightforward in a healthy, open culture and more of a challenge if you are attempting to fix a toxic culture. If your employees fear the leadership or management they work under, it will be harder to get an honest and unbiased answer. Getting to the truth of the real experience employees are having is critical to creating a positive culture.

Anonymous surveys can be a way to get genuine feedback. Prepare yourself though. Just because your employees aren’t complaining, doesn’t mean they are happy. They might be in fear of their losing their job or that horribly demotivating feeling of finally speaking up and still not being heard.

The way your employees see the organization is critical in understanding and exploring strategies to build more positive culture. Make sure to give them the time and space to express themselves. And try not to take how they feel personally. Your role as a leader is to create a safe and positive company culture through understanding, not blame-shift or deny the experiences of others, as they feel them. This is the same approach as encouraging and receiving feedback from customers.

Painting the right picture

Think of the creation of a healthy culture being like an artist painting a picture. They both take a delicate balance of structured planning and attention to detail to deliver the best result. Too little structured planning and the ‘canvas’ will become a jumbled mess, too much attention to detail and it will take too long to finish for fear of getting it wrong.

Navigating the path between those behaviours you wish to encourage and those that you must make clear cannot be tolerated is a complex one. Pay close attention to the way you train and teach what is unacceptable behaviour. If you train your employees too strictly over minor infractions, you risk creating a group of disengaged people that will likely only perform when they know you are watching. On the other hand, as Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker state “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.” It is a fine line.

Culture informed processes

Once you know your purpose and values, you can start to design processes that will eventually create a self-sustaining loop of positive culture. When you know what you value you can start to look for people that are already aligned with similar values. Your recruitment processes should always look for the right ‘fit’ for the company culture. Rather than talking about the organization’s values, you can reflect and reinforce the values in the process itself.

Skills can be learned, trained for, and developed overtime, but our values are wholly unique to our individual life experience. It is far better for your organization’s longevity and profitability to hire people that work well within the kind of positive culture you wish to create, than it is to hire an incredible seller or customer service agent that doesn’t work well in a team.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in creating bespoke strategies that focus on understanding purpose and values to drive organizational alignment. We don’t believe in copy and paste organizational cultures. We want to help you create a self-sustaining positive culture in the workplace that lets you get the best out of your employees because they are valued and part of a team. Why not see what SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can do for you!

How to Create an Encouraging Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of encouragement and support in your organization can be a challenge. Successful culture isn’t about maintaining positivity 100% of the time. It is more about employees feeling a sense of belonging, being part of something and contributing that is valued. They need to feel that they can engage with leadership in a common cause to achieve the organization’s vision and objectives. When employees feel seen and heard, it bolsters confidence to face challenges and improves resilience to overcome setbacks, knowing they are supported.

The pitfalls of positivity

It is not possible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time, group-wide or individually. It is also important to understand that everyone is unique and does not fit a standard mould when it comes to positive thought and action.

Leaders have a responsibility as well as a privilege to ‘set the tone’ in an organization. Encouragement at an individual level is key. When positivity is enforced without focusing on encouragement at an individual level, employees can lose their sense of self-worth and self-belief, leading to potential burn out. Toxic positivity is a leading cause of demotivation among employees. Telling someone to be happy, doesn’t make it a reality. On the other side of the coin, leaders can exert significant positive impact on any event. Employees welcome honest presentation of the facts (even when this might not be comfortable), an inclusive approach to identifying potential solutions and are generally motivated to make an improvement. If your employees are struggling to maintain a natural and balanced sense of positivity in the workplace, it is your role as a leader to discover why this is the case.

Leaders lead… in practice

It can be tempting for leaders in organizations to think that their role is to focus on the future and planning. Of course, this is true… but not at the expense of becoming disconnected from the need to support day to day operational delivery. Employees need the right tools to do the job alongside the encouragement to overcome challenges. It is a key leadership role to make this happen, and, if or where this is not possible, to agree another approach. Pretending the challenge does not exist is not an option. In general, employees want to do a good job. Of course, human error happens but usually when something goes wrong, the reason is a business process that is not fit for purpose, inadequate tools, poor communication or similar. When you face these situations, resist the temptation to place blame and, instead, encourage people to understand what went wrong, why this happened, the impact of the situation, the importance of identifying a solution and how future repetition can be avoided.

Every voice matters

Building an encouraging organizational culture starts with listening. This can be scary for leaders who sometimes think there will be an expectation for them to address every issue raised. However, an open and practical approach is generally appreciated “It is so helpful that, with your valuable input, we have now identified a wide variety of issues that need to be addressed. The XYZ team has reviewed the list and conducted a high-level assessment to identify how we can focus our efforts for the best impact. I will share this plan, so you know what we are planning to do and when. Your ongoing input will be critical as we progress to get the best results.”

Employees are often our first point of contact with customers and service users. What they say and do, has a dramatic impact on how the organization is perceived by customers. Because of this proximity to customers, these employees are also the first people to know when something is not working, unfair or causing problems. These ‘eyes and ears on the ground’ are priceless, so grasp the opportunity to tap into this rich seam of knowledge and make employees an integral part of the decision-making process.

When you encourage your employees to speak up and practice listening to what they have to say, you’ll keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Recognise, affirm, and reward employees for bringing their voices and positive contributions to the table.

On another practical note, there will be a minority of outlandish or even inappropriate requests. Don’t allow these to knock you of course by giving them to much attention or airtime. This is where your judgement as a leader comes into play – humour can be a valuable tool in some (but not all!) situations.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teams made up of people that think and act the same can be stagnant, uninspiring, and blind. Diversity of thought breeds innovation. What can you do to create more difference of people, background, character, and ideas?
Team building exercises and challenges are a well-established way to simulate the stress of a real crisis and give people the opportunity to bond, trust each other, and begin to trust their ability to get the job done. These kinds of exercises also give you the chance to model the kind of encouraging behaviour that you wish your employees to model – no derision if they make an error and, instead, supportive, and constructive feedback, encouraging them to try again when facing difficulties.

To create real value from this sort of activity, consider two points. First, team building shouldn’t only work horizontally. Vertical integration is pivotal in building the kind of lasting culture that sees strong teams trained to believe in their abilities and achieve greater results for the organization. Marriott’s Spirit to Serve program was a powerful global initiative founded on cross-functional and hierarchy workshops. The second point is to make sure that the team building experience and lessons is taken back into the organization, applied, and developed. Otherwise, these events can become a fond memory with no lasting impact on the organization.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe in the power of encouragement to create a healthy, flourishing and long lasting positive organizational culture. Perhaps you have an aspiration to build the kind of teams and culture proven to improve profitability, retention, and longevity or maybe you are struggling with your current organizational culture. Either way, why not see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can help you create new and more meaningful ways of engaging with your employees.

The Future of Customer Experience

Getting customer experience (CX) right is not always straightforward and often challenging. What made for good customer experience in the 90’s is vastly different from the kinds of experiences customers expect to have in 2022.

Changes in culture, society, availability, technology, and financial status have always impacted customer experience. Trends often only last as long as the moment or time frame that created them. So, what does this mean for creating a long-term customer experience strategy?

It’s just a sauce!?

In order to create a successful CX strategy, you must first consider how to add value to the customer journey. The more value you add to your customers’ experience, the more likely they are to remain a loyal customer and become an ambassador for your brand.

Predicting and planning for new trends is almost impossible. Fad’s pop up seemingly out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly as they arrive on the scene. But despite their rapid disappearance, they leave indelible marks on the cultural landscape. Some even carry on far longer than the trend itself. Consider the hype around McDonald’s Szechuan dipping sauce. So intense was the memory of the short-lived product, that 20 years later people still talk about it. A whole new generation of customers was created: people who had never tried the product clamoured and fought for it during a one-day re-release in 2017.

When customers are saying, ‘You had to be there’ when describing their inside knowledge to others, this is, perhaps, the epitome of the term ‘customer experience’.

Strategies that work for you

The pandemic forced a major change in the way customers access products and services. Organizations that were hesitant to digitize their channels may have survived the pandemic, but certainly haven’t thrived in the same way that early adopters have.

Finding the right strategy to build a great customer experience starts with how you engage with your customers and service users. When you provide an omnichannel experience, are customers able to move between each of those channels with minimal effort and achieve the same style of experience?

One of the biggest detractors to customer experience comes from the implementation of channels before they are ready. We all have painful experiences of talking to chat bot on the phone that just doesn’t understand the request we are trying to make. Or talking to an AI in a browsing window that just can’t figure out how to answer our question.

The more options you give customers in the ways they can connect and interact with you, the more likely you are to better service the market with your product or service. But your channels are often the first point of contact for customers with problems or queries and, if your services are gimmicky and not fit for purpose, nothing will turn a customer away faster.

AI is great, and often an almost free way of handling massive amounts of information. But make sure you have humans capable of resolving complex queries. When customers can trust they are being truly heard, it will build a more positive impression in their minds.

Managing the moment

Everyone wants to feel important, to feel special. Thanks to predictive AI, the relationship between organizations and consumers has never been more individual and certainly never so intimate. Sometimes advertising agencies know more about us through our search histories and online usage than even our partners, family and friends do.

This level of hyper targeted individualisation has heightened our expectations from the organizations and services we engage with. We feel good when we are understood. When services cater to our needs without our having asked, we feel valued and connected to the organization in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Customer experience used to be easier to manage with advertisers tasked with creating campaigns to target and direct products and services at people. Effectively telling them what they want. This is no longer the case; there are so many products, so many services, and billions of hours of adverts streaming every day. This bombardment means your customer experience strategy has to be tailor made to hook and keep the customer happy within seconds of engaging them.

Cheap AI and poor customer service agents are not the way to achieve experiences that will keep customers connected and interested in your organization for long.

Is this what you are looking for?

The future of customer experience is tied to an organization’s ability to create personal yet repeatable customer purchases. Organizations that dial into tailoring subscriptions and services directly to specific customers, are far more likely to create long lasting customer loyalty through engaging and personal experiences. 91% more likely in fact!

By targeting individual customers in this way, you ensure that although every customer will have a different experience. They all get the best experience for them.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Navigating customer experience and building effective strategies to build and keep a loyal customer base can be tricky. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe in a personal and omnichannel approach to building quality customer experience. If you are struggling to create meaningful relationships with your customers or service users, we can help you develop strategies that fulfil all your customers experience needs.

Engagement Focused Leadership

Whether you are new to a leadership role or have been in one for many years, finding the right tone and balance with your team is crucial. Sometimes you might have been leading the same team of people for a long time. Other times you might have more change in the team. Whatever the situation, it is important to be able to assess each person’s abilities and motivation, and balance that with your own and the pressures of delivering on achievable goals.

This blog looks at three key areas for leaders to consider improving engagement with their employees.

1 on 1

Far too often, 1 on 1 meetings are viewed as a waste of time. Something to get through that doesn’t really contribute anything meaningful to the organization. 67% of employees feel like meetings inhibit their ability to get on with being productive at work.

As a manager and a leader, it is your responsibility to come to 1 to 1 meetings prepared to engage and get the most from your employee. Use this valuable time wisely eg avoid giving organizational updates that could be sent en masse in an email or given in a group huddle.

Also remember to respect your employees and that it is not their responsibility to manage your time. Setting up meetings that you frequently rearrange or cancel at the last minute due to other ‘priorities’ will send your employee engagement plummeting. If employees don’t feel like their time is being valued, they will disengage.

Word of mouth spreads quickly in any organization. If your employees feel like their time is being wasted in these meetings, be sure that everyone else will rapidly hear about it. On the positive side, the news of productive meetings will also spread fast.

Leading with the right questions

Knowing what questions to ask members of a new team can be a challenge. As Stephanie Perkins says, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” These early experiences
will often set the tone for your team’s perception about the kind of leader you are going to be. When you are in a one-to-one conversation with an employee you can be business-like and make it personal at the same time. You and the employee are both performing roles for the organization… and you are both people.

A critical mistake that is often made is trying to give the employee too much time to share their views and opinions, out of a desire to be a good listener. This can put pressure on the employee and result in them talking for the sake of it and in different directions. As a leader, you can lead the conversation with questions that are designed to get the most from the interaction.

If you are coming to a new organization or team, here are some general work-focused questions you can consider beginning with:

What brought you to this organization?
More importantly what is your best hope for working here?
In your opinion, what do we need to start doing here?
What do we need to stop doing?
What is important that we continue to do?
What one change would improve the customer experience most?
What one change would make this a better place for people to work at?
What are you most proud of about working here?
What irritates you about working here?

The most important way you can build engagement is by showing your employees that you trust their knowledge, experience, and opinion.

The Value of listening

Once you know the right questions to ask, it becomes a matter of practicing truly concentrated listening. Managers often get stuck on the first level of active listening. Have you been in a 1 to 1 meeting, that feels like you are talking to a parrot? The other person just repeats back what you are saying. Repetition shows that you have been heard, but that doesn’t mean the person you are talking to has really listened.

If you want to engage your employees into deeper and more meaningful conversations, you must show them you fully understand what they are trying to say to you. Take what they have told you and reflect it back them in your own words. Show them how you understand what they have said and make sure your way of understanding it, is in line with what they were trying to express.

Self-expression is complicated. Youmight feel like you are the best explainer on the planet and yet someone else might not understand what you are explaining. There is no harm in being sure that what has been said is what was actually meant.

This applies even if you don’t agree with what you are hearing. The goal is to build a trusting relationship that is more likely to keep your employees engaged and willing to share their views and opinions with you.

By actively listening, employees will trust that they can bring issues to you while they are still small. This can be so much more beneficial than employees holding off until it is a big problem before being able to count on your attention.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in the power of values-driven employee engagement to improve retention, productivity, loyalty, and advocacy. We help managers and leaders appreciate the value of listening to and understanding what their employees have to say. Too often businesses fail because of a poor attitude to the importance of having employees engaged, motivated, and directed towards achieving your organization’s mission or purpose.

If you feel like you are struggling to connect with your team, or your employees, we can help you create effective planning strategies to greatly improve the way you interact with them. This can only have positive and beneficial results!

CX Looking to the Future

The quality of a customer’s experience sits at the heart of successful organizations. Every customer needs to receive an excellent experience at every point of service, irrespective of time, geography, and channel. This can seem like an overwhelming and perhaps even unachievable aspiration. But with the right approach, it is possible to ensure that every customer and service user that interacts with your organization, has a positive experience.

The implementation and use of AI services and functions has exploded in the last ten years. In particular, it is a powerful tool for data collection, targeted marketing, and the management of ever more complicated automation processes.

Organizations are now increasingly seeing the opportunity to deliver great customer experiences every time by using more advanced AI: to connect with customers and to address their problems and queries. In one-way, Artificial Intelligence might be the future of customer experience.

Access any time

The world is no longer a Monday to Friday, 9-5 place. This has been evolving for some time but has been accelerated dramatically by the impact of COVID-19. Hybrid working schemes are enabling people to work to their own rhythms. This is changing when customers usually engage with products and services.

In a world that doesn’t sleep, keeping up with providing a positive customer experience, can be challenging. This is one area where AI will always have the upper hand on humanity. It needs no sleep, rest, or breaks.

AI that is consistently accessible and able to deal with multi-layered queries, problems or concerns is pivotal in the digital age. Customers don’t want to wait until your opening hours for a response. If they can’t get it from you, a competitor will surely address their needs.

Values-aligned AI

How your customers and service users feel about your organization is largely down to the experience they have, not only of the goods or services they purchase, but the experience of buying from start to finish. If they encounter difficulties on this journey, they are less likely to make a purchase or become loyal customers.

The same is true of implementing AI systems and processes into your organization. If they aren’t aligned with your values, they will not generate positive customer experience. Consider Virgin Media, who prize heartfelt service as one of their core values. And yet, it is next to impossible for customers to reach them. An unending complaints system does nothing but create digital feedback loops, sending customers round and round in circles.

AI can be of incredible benefit to your organization when used innovatively to create benefit/value. But not when used as a cost saving exercise to replace humans that could more satisfactorily solve complaints and queries.

Individual Service

AI is vastly superior to humans in learning and storing information. The more experiences it is given, the better and more adaptive it becomes at resolving problems. Herein lies one of the key benefits for using it to enhance customer experience.

Human service agents are of course still far better at providing a positive sense of feeling and engagement with the customers. But this is often only done at the point of service. AI can improve all elements of the customer journey. From initial contact to complaint resolution, and most importantly into post purchase relationships. It can provide highly specific and targeted advertising content to individual customers across a range of platforms instantly.

The best human customer experience manager might be able to keep up with hundreds of personal preference, desires, and personalities. AI can handle millions of data points, predicting behaviour and acting on it in real time.

The space when customers think about your organization might only be for five minutes of their day. Having the ability to target specific advertisements and offers directly to this window is an incredible powerful tool in driving organizational awareness and sales growth. Done well, it simultaneously gives the customer a positive experience of your offering.

The Future

There is a reason that Amazon is so popular. It is not luck, but innovation driving its success. Putting AI to work, knowing what we want before we want it, and ensuring we get it within a day, has driven huge financial success at Amazon.

Their offer and performance even cause some people to look past our social and environmental responsibilities because the customer journey has become so positive, we know it will feel good to keep ordering the things we want.

The next big question is coming because of this era of instant gratification, where anything we want is available: Will AI continue to facilitate customer experience, or has it already begun to lead and direct it?

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we take a positive and forward-thinking approach to the future. It can be anxiety inducing to face the challenges of the coming decades. If you are struggling to identify the right way to engage with your customers, the way that best fits your organisation, we can help.

How to Build Unshakeable Customer Trust

Building customer trust is a complicated process that takes time and patience to achieve. When you get customer trust right, your customers become ambassadors for your brand. In turn, other customers are more likely to purchase your offering based on their recommendations. More consistent customer interactions can only lead to increased sales.

Where to begin?

The foundation of any trust relationship is empathy. This is the ability to recognise and understand the difficulties of your consumers. Your entire organizational policy should centre around the consumer viewpoint. Remember who you are trying to serve. Without customers, there can be no success and, ultimately, no business.

When building strategies and hiring new employees, be sure to select people that are empathic to the customers’ point of view. People that can consider the situation from both sides are key in building trust and bridging the gap between customers and organizations.

Practicing Empathy

Understanding the experiences of others can be a challenge. How do we put ourselves in the shoes of people, that have lived experiences vastly different from our own? Sometimes it best to take a practical and hands on approach. Take Barclays bank for example. They have been training their employees with an age simulation suit (weighted with decreased visibility) to provide the experience of someone with vision problems and mobility issues trying to access their services. These suits are even capable of inducing temporary joint pain!

Building the experience of your organization around the people that struggle most to engage is a genuine and fulfilling way to build trust with those customers. The elderly and disabled people should be treated as equally entitled to access your products or services without having to face unnecessary barriers like poor access.

Training in empathy and awareness is far from straightforward. How can you simulate the pain sometimes experienced by elderly and disabled people? But If you make the effort to do the most for all of your customers, not just the ones that are easy to serve, the returns in customer loyalty and trust can be enormous.

The right thing at the right time

Organizations flouting customer trust has become an ever more common occurrence. Worse still are organizations that only act with decency and morality when it suits them. Consumers often forget how much power they hold over the organizations and institutions that serve them.

Activism can be polarising. That is why understanding your organization’s core values and purpose is so important. Embracing causes or any of the fights for social justice must be woven into the very fabric of what you do, not paid lip service to for moral clout.

Fashion outlet BooHoo is an example of getting it wrong in terms of building customer trust. In the wake of the BLM movement on social media, the company committed to support more diversity and inclusion. At the same time, they were linked to illegal sweat shops in the background.

One of the biggest metrics for customer engagement is the extent to which customers trust the organization to do the right thing. That is not to say you must take up the torch for every cause, that is not always possible. But you can design your strategies around the issues that represent your values and organizational goals. If you are a coffee company, you might commit to sustainable and fair-trade products. If you are a clothing company, you might commit to reducing fasting fashion and ban slave labour practices.

Tell the Truth

Customers and service users are not fools. They will be able to tell the authentic from those that are not. If your organization makes a mistake, be honest with your customers about it. Trust is built through cycles of trial and error, growth and expansion.

Too often toxic company culture prevents people from owning their mistakes, by overly punishing a single mistake, rather than the consistency or frequency with which mistakes occur. One mistake is not a problem, it is a learning experience.

When you come down hard on a first-time mistake, it doesn’t correct the offending behaviour, it only teaches more subversive behaviours. When there is no room for growth, employees are less willing to step into the line of fire and have a growth moment.

And it is always the customers that pay for these learned behaviours. If your employees are so fearful of making a mistake they pass the blame onto the customer, trust will be permanently damaged.

Building a better future

Customer trust is a tricky subject. It requires understanding, empathy, and honesty. At SERVICEBRAND our three goals are
1) To help you understand your core values and purpose.
2) To create plans and strategies to empathically connect with your customer and service user base.
3) Help you create an honest and open company culture to facilitate trust building internally and externally.

Why not see what SERVICEBRAND can do for you?

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