Tag: improve customer experience

Measurement & Insight

“You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” John H. Holcomb

To have an impact means to have a marked influence – a strong effect on someone or something. Impact is often associated with measurement and reward in organizations, and the phrase “What gets measured gets done” has been attributed to Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, W. Edwards Deming, Lord Kelvin and others. It is true – impact is only seen historically, after the fact.

We define Measurement & Insight as the efficient and effective use of data to inform future development of the organization at all levels, including collection, interpretation, communication and decision-making. The purpose of Measurement & Insight is to understand what impact the organization has delivered in different areas and to enable decisions that will create the most value in the future.

Be careful what you ask for

In the decades to come, when organizational management from the 1970s to the 2010s is looked back on, it is likely that ‘metrics’ will be a key topic. We think that the use of measurement-based approaches such as KPIs (key performance indicators), SLAs (service level agreements), incentivized pay schemes and others might be viewed as, at best, misguided and clumsy and, at worst, crude and ineffective.
We are strong supporters of measurement and insight as an aid to decision-making and accountability. Measurement and insight in themselves are not the issue.

The digital revolution has made it much easier and cheaper to measure multiple dimensions of an organization’s activities and this has led to what has seemed like an almost obsessive, simplistic application on the basis that it is ‘the answer.’ But metrics are a support to, rather than a substitute for, thinking. It is the simplistic way in which they are applied by organizations’ leaders that can cause issues, and sometimes catastrophic damage. Measurement is immensely powerful – either for good or ill – and the outcome is dependent on the level and quality of leadership involvement, just like in the quote above.

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.” Barack Obama

The American Nobel Prize winner for economics Joseph Stiglitz observes that “What we measure affects what we do. If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things” – or, in other words, if you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing. The notion that you can’t manage what you don’t measure is a trap. Deciding what to measure is so much more important than the measuring itself.

We are in favour of a broader approach to measurement and insight, and we admire the way that, if used as intended, the balanced scorecard has stood the test of time since it was proposed in 1992. The triple bottom line (otherwise called the TBL or 3BL) is a more recent accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial. Some organizations have adopted the TBL framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value.

Measuring and sustaining behaviour

An over-reliance on simplistic measurement by numbers is dangerous. Impact also needs to be assessed at a less quantitative, more qualitative level. A combination of carefully considered metrics or quantitative measures (to provide direction) and a collection of qualitative data (e.g. narrative, story and open comments) clarifying the impact on individuals and groups of stakeholders provides a much richer picture of impact and the context within which this happens.

While stories might not seem ‘measurable’ by numbers, management educator Henry Mintzberg proposed starting “from the premise that we can’t measure what matters.” Mintzberg suggested that this gives leaders the best chance of realistically facing up to their challenges. Stories are a particularly fruitful way of communicating.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in the Measurement & Insight is the fifth (and final) Element of the SERVICEBRAND approach and is applied equally to the previous four Elements: Brand Identity, Employee Engagement, Customer Experience and Systems & Processes.

The SERVICEBRAND approach helps to capture and present your data and the insight generated from it as ‘intelligence’ to make decisions. If you are not making decisions based on your measurement and insight, why are you collecting the data? If this is an area you would like to improve, please give us a call, and see how we can help you.

Customer Experience and Growth

Research into the value of understanding the customer experience is consistently returning findings that show a huge percentage of customers are willing to pay more to have a better, easier, and more comfortable experience with the brands and organizations they interact with.

It is not just the customers benefiting from more care and attention being placed into the customer experience. Studies also show a huge increase in revenue in the three years after organizations have implemented a successful customer experience strategy.

Despite the positive research results, it seems many organizations are still reluctant to embrace the idea of investing in a quality customer experience strategy.

What is CX?

Despite customer experience (CX) being spoken of as the next frontier in business growth, many leaders and organizations don’t fully understand just how many elements feed into the experience customers have when they interact with a business.

CX can be considered as the journey your customer takes from the moment they become aware of your brand, to the moment they decide they want no other service but yours. It used to be that advertising companies would convince the customer of their need for your offering. But with such a competitive market in the present day, the onus is now on the organization to offer the best experience possible to customer, to keep them loyal.

When organizations are offering slightly different versions of the same thing, the experience becomes the key and defining factor in purchase decisions. If you don’t have a CX strategy, you are leaving it to chance and randomization as to whether your customers are all having the same positive experience.

Service or experience?

It is easy to think that the terms customer experience and customer service are the same or interchangeable. But they aren’t.

While it is true that most customers will engage with an employee as their first port of call, perhaps making a telephone call, or speaking to a service agent or sales assistant, this service is not the whole experience. These interactions just allow time in the customer experience journey to offer great service and hopefully leave the customer feeling like they had a great experience of the brand.

Customer service is what happens ‘in the moment’. Customer experience is what happens throughout: the comments and suggestions from friends or family to try a place they have really loved; a built understanding in the head of the customer that this is the brand for them before they’ve even had their first physical interaction; a strong preconception that is then reinforced by the excellent service they receive.

Anton, an attendee at a workshop I delivered summed it up so well “A service you receive, an experience you take away.”

If the service doesn’t align with their desired experience, then you’ll lose a customer. It really is that simple. What you say you’ll do, matters.

But it is crucial to avoid the mistake of developing a CX strategy at the heart of your business, that is never supported nor trained into employee behaviour. In the Values Economy, customers believe their felt experience and the experiences of other customers than they believe the official corporate messaging. If what you say is not reinforced by the experience you deliver ‘on the ground’, at best, customers will be confused, and, at worst, they will feel intentionally misled.

Should I stay or should I go?

Building customer loyalty is one of the biggest challenges for any organization. It is often organic in nature and will only be successful in a sustained way with sound underpinning intention. Designing a CX strategy around cheap tricks or financial incentives to achieve customer loyalty might deliver results in the short term but this will only last for so long.

It is much better to design and create a strategy that studies and understands the needs of the customer, and then creates a pathway to bring them true joy.

When you think of businesses you have loyalty towards, is it really because of the product, or is it because of the service? There is a great deal of power in knowing that, whenever you interact with a brand, you are going to get the same experience. It is why people only stay in one hotel chain, have a favourite fast-food restaurant, go to the same brand of coffee shop in every place they visit.

Customers ask for very little in the way of experience, and give their loyalty in return. If your business hasn’t been honouring that loyalty, are your surprised that your customers are happy to leave?

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe that customer experience provides the life blood for any organization. Without customers, organizations do not exist. We help progressive leaders to create and implement CX strategies to understand where they are now and help them get to where they want to be… in practice. If you would benefit from help to put an effective CX strategy in place, why not see how the SERVICEBRAND approach can help your business.

Organizational Systems & Processes

“Systems and processes are essential to keep the crusade going, but they should not replace the crusade.” Simon Sinek

Organizations are complex adaptive systems. They consist of interconnected, interwoven components or sets of things that work together as part of a mechanism or interconnecting and dynamic network to achieve an overall goal.

If you take away or change a component it affects the whole system. Ralph Stacey, an eminent figure in the field of complexity, points out that all human systems are ‘self-organizing’ and not open to control. Interactions between humans are co-created and emergent, with multiple possible outcomes at each point of engagement. A complex environment consists of any number of competing factors, combinations of agents and potential outcomes.

The Ralph Stacey Complexity model

Supporting the right functions

The components of the organization system can be viewed in different ways. One perspective is a collection of different functions where the Human Resources (HR) team could be one component, the service delivery team another, the outsourced supply chain another and so on.

These functions are interdependent, so if there is a high performing service delivery team, but the HR processes and procedures are not working well, then the performance of the whole organization is lessened.

“Systems are not sexy – but they really DO drive everything we do!” Carrie Wilkerson

Systems & Processes is the fourth ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach. We think of this as the organization’s infrastructure: a collection of ‘assets’ assisting the strategic alignment and co-ordinated execution of the Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements.

We define the Systems & Processes ‘Element’ as the arrangement of resources, communication framework, technology infrastructure and governance to enable and support delivery of a brand aligned Customer Experience. Resources refers to people, functions, information, finance, property, and equipment.

Systems in support

The focus on an alignment and support role is critical because, otherwise, there is a risk that areas within your systems and processes can achieve a disproportionate level of importance to the detriment of the brand identity, employee engagement or customer experience. Can you relate to these quotes?

– “Your details cannot be located because the system needs a case number.”
– “I cannot serve you with a cup of hot water because it is against the company health & safety policy.”
– “Do you have a reservation?” in an empty restaurant.
– “Unless you have your booking reference, you will not be admitted to the event.”
– “The delivery day cannot be changed so if nobody is at the address it will be delivered the following day.”
– “I can only issue you with a uniform when the approval form is received from your department manager.”
– “To collect your train ticket, you must have the credit card you used to pay for it.”
– “Your query will be dealt with by the foreign exchange team. I am unable to transfer you and they do not make outgoing calls so please call this number…”
– “I do not know why you were able to make a reservation for those dates because our arrival date is always a Saturday.”

In all these examples, for whatever reason, the organization’s systems are not helping to achieve the best outcomes and, in some cases, present an active obstacle. Many organizations have issues like this and others: people are swamped by systems that require a lot of maintenance, and meta-work (work about work e.g., meetings, project planning, progress reviews) can take more time and effort than the work that needs to be done.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Using the SERVICEBRAND approach helps to maintain a focus on what is important (aligned brand identity, employee engagement and customer experience) and to keep in check the component parts within the Systems & Processes ‘Element’. In Simon Sinek’s words above, they do not replace the crusade.

The Power of Affirmations

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.
Muhammad Ali

An affirmation is defined as a statement or proposition that is declared to be true. Self-affirmations were first popularized by French psychologist Emile Coué back in the 1920s, so they have been around for some time.

Proponents of the “law of attraction” often credit self-affirmations as being capable of magnetically drawing positive things such as financial success, love, and renewed health to us. But it is our belief that more than positive mental visualization is required to be happy and successful.

Of course, as highlighted in our book (co-author @Steve Payne) My 31 Practices, affirmations play a crucial role in directing our attention and awareness to the areas of our lives that we would like to improve. But the important part of our process, is a recognition of the actions that must accompany these thoughts to bring them into reality.

Here is an explanation of why the affirmation approach is effective by Manprit Kaur – it is great to see such clear focus on practice:

“Remember, by making affirmations, you are consciously programming your mind to think in a certain way, so that hopeful and happy thinking becomes a part of your being. Affirmations are a way to train the mind; and training happens when you practice, practice, practice! Training requires conscious effort, discipline, belief, and consistency. That is exactly how you need to practice your affirmations.”

What do they look like?

Affirmations are simply statements that are designed to create self-change in the person using them or to reinforce current wanted behaviour. They can operate at a number of levels (a simple reminder, inspiration, focusing attention) with the potential to develop and embed positive and sustained change. Over time it becomes natural.

Four Guidelines for Effective Affirmations

1. First person: begin your affirmations with “I”. This makes your statements personal to you, and easy for you to associate with and take responsibility for.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.
Watty Piper The Little Engine That Could

2. Present tense: write your affirmations as if they are already happening. This means saying, “I offer thoughtful gestures to people” rather than “I will offer thoughtful gestures to people”. The present tense is far more compelling than the future tense where you can find reasons that this is not what happens right now. For a similar reason, avoid using the phrase “try to” – this creates an opportunity for you to find an excuse or reason not to do something and weakens your commitment.

Do. Or do not. There is no try.
Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

3. Positive language: focus on what you want to do rather than what you do not want to do. For example, “I enjoy making healthy choices when eating” rather than “I no longer eat fast foods”.

4. Emotional, personal words: these positive emotions are powerful motivators. For a similar reason, use specific words or phrases that you use or relate to. For example, “I hang out with my pals to feel happy” rather than “I spend time with my friends,” which sounds impersonal and like a bit of a chore.

Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose yours well
Robin Sharma

How do you use them?

We believe that the daily discipline of my31Practices is an important factor in building affirmations that work to creative positive change in your life. But what is more important than what we believe or think, is what works best for you. Different people have different preferences.

Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.
Jim Rohn

This is why you can set your affirmation reminder at a time to suit you. In line with the myPractices approach we suggest that you take some quiet time to focus on your affirmations for the day. You might like to write it down, repeat it out loud, leave notes or associated quotes around the house. Then at the end of the day before you sleep, spend some time considering your experiences during the day. Just take five minutes to try these things for one or two days and see what differences you notice.

So what? Do they work?

There is a range of opinion in recent research. On the one hand, some researchers suggest the benefits of using affirmations include:

– protection against the damaging effects of stress on problem-solving performance

– fostering better problem-solving

– helping deal with threats to our self-integrity

People can be affirmed by engaging in activities that remind them of “who they are” (and doing so reduces our need for defensive responses when faced with implications for self-integrity of threatening events).

There are other researchers who cite the lack of supporting scientific evidence and see possible advantages and disadvantages for different groups of people.

Another school of thought focuses on mindfulness and a commitment to an alignment of values and behaviour.

And?
So where do all of these seemingly contradictory points of view take us? Well, we believe it can all be distilled down into the following:

Affirmations by themselves may be of some value to some people, BUT, when used as part of a broader approach (alongside other techniques such as mindfulness, practice, recognition and reward, reinforcement, and others) can TOGETHER be a powerful approach to the way you think, behave, and feel. Perhaps we should invent a new word: Affirmactions.

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
Epictetus

Awareness: Part 2

In the first blog on Awareness (here) we looked at NLP, calibrating changing and the link between intention and awareness. The second part focuses on feedback loops and the way perception affects our sense of awareness.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” -Abraham Maslow

Feedback loops

In your day-to-day life you are experiencing feedback loops all the time and these feedback loops give you a clue about what to do next. When you talk with other people you are usually scanning for signs of connection, understanding, resonance and so on. When you watch two people speaking, notice how the listener will often nod their head or make sounds such as “uh huh”. This is valuable feedback for the speaker.

To demonstrate our need for feedback, find someone to talk to and when they are speaking, keep your head perfectly still, do not make any gestures or sounds, keep your face completely expressionless and just look at them neutrally. Notice how quickly the other person becomes uncomfortable. This demonstrates the importance of feedback; without it we do not know what to do.

The next time you meet someone, be aware of the tone in their voice, their gestures, their energy shifts. What is this non-verbal communication telling you about how they feel and how do you respond to it?

By bringing awareness to the way these cues affect you, you will be able to better control the way your cues affect other people. In this way, you will be able to build better and longer lasting relationships with people, as you will understand better the place where their feedback is generated. You’ll be able to see the emotional driver behind the mask. Allowing for deeper and more meaningful connection.

It is obvious that you can be aware of things that are tangible, such as objects, other people, the weather and so on. But you can also be aware of things that are less tangible, such as how you feel about something, including when something “just doesn’t feel right”.

This is very true when it comes to your values. Although we can be consciously aware of some our values, often they may be out of our conscious awareness; they may be sitting in the subconscious. You may become more aware of these values when they are being honoured or compromised.

By way of example, have you experience a situation where everything just seemed “right”, where relationships, actions, decisions, results were all so easy, enjoyable, and successful? It is likely that your value/s were being honoured.

On the other side of the coin, have you ever been asked to do something, and you had a funny feeling about it? It just didn’t feel right? Did you sense some form of discomfort internally, perhaps in your gut? This was likely to be a subconscious signal telling you that one of your values was being compromised.

Awareness of feedback loops trains us to better engage the world around us, to better understand ourselves and our own values, so we might be of more service to others. In a more understanding and compassionate way.

Perception

Perception is all about awareness. You can only respond to what you are aware of. The British anthropologist, Gregory Bateson, said that to really understand any situation fully, you need to examine it from at least three different perspectives. Take the example of a disagreement between you and someone else. There will be your opinion, the other person’s opinion and then what a neutral observer may see.

Take a look at the diagram below. From one perspective a person may be certain that they are looking at a circle, from a different perspective another person may be certain the object is a square and yet from another perspective, the truth becomes more apparent.

How often do you view something from just one perspective? What more might you discover when you take a different viewpoint?

The Truth perspective

Raising our awareness that the meaning in every situation depends on how we look at it will enable us to make more informed choices with potentially better outcomes.

To change unhelpful patterns of behaviour or habits you must be first become aware of them. If you are looking to change certain patterns of thought and/or behaviour, it is important to notice when you are doing and/or thinking or doing something that works against your higher positive intention and then take action to do something about it.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe awareness is a key factor in the healthy development of the self, both professionally and personally. By training in awareness, through better understanding of perception and feedback, we can all move closer to being fully aware human beings. People who act on their values in a positive and meaningful way, rather than a reactive and emotionally shallow way. Our 31Practices approach can help you build a sense of awareness and conscious practice at a personal or organizational level.

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 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.

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