Tag: Improving employee engagement

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?

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.

The Power of Organizational Alignment

ca. 2001 — Rowers Rowing Boat — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Vision is the compass that points people in organizations towards the fulfilment of their purpose. But as with all things, knowing the right direction, and being able to get there are two very different things. Making your dream happen is dependent on the alignment of plans and people all being in alignment. Otherwise, the organization will fall short as it fails to maximise synergies or, in some cases, even works against itself.

All of us can dream, have a vision or a design on how we wish to shape the world. But without the support of likeminded individuals, our grand visions often come to nothing. The risks of scaling up your organization, of expanding and undertaking new projects are heavily mitigated when everyone is aligned with your values, vision, and purpose.

First steps

Some organizations love measurement metrics, others fly by the seat of their pants. But how can you find the right balance for your organization? This all comes down to how well you plan.

Time spent on planning can sometimes feel like an added burden on resources. However, deciding how you will take everyone in your organization forward, in alignment with your purpose and vision, is key to driving continued success.

The first step in unlocking the power of organizational alignment is settling on your values and having a clear purpose. Once this is done, everybody can ‘board the bus’ knowing what the direction is.

Plan for others

While your plan may contain some sensitive company strategies, on the whole it will be a statement of desired intent. Showing where the company is now, and where your plan will take it if all the steps are fulfilled correctly is a powerful tool.

Make sure that your plan does includes the relevant people, departments, or partners, so they are involved (rather than feeling left out, or like the work they do isn’t important). Self-esteem plays a crucial role in how well engaged we are with the people around us. Failing to plan and account for each department is a sure-fire way to drive a wedge into any attempts at organizational alignment.

Also, it is important that you don’t only focus your alignment strategies on your executive team alone. Everyone has a part to play in executing the strategic plan in an aligned way that achieves the organization’s vision.

If you find you have employees or partners that aren’t part of your organization’s plan, you need to consider if this is because of a lack of insight on your part, or if they are superfluous in achieving the goal. In which case, even harder conversations about those employees or teams need to be had.

Find your rhythm

Once you have you plan, it is then about finding the right rhythm to monitor and adjust as necessary. Consider breaking the plan into segments such as a 3–5-year organisational strategy plan, an annual plan, quarterly and finally weekly or month team meetings.

The crucial element in finding your flow, is understanding that your plan will work from the top down, and from the bottom up simultaneously. The information and data gathered at weekly team meetings is pivotal in informing the larger business strategy.

The employees that have the most customer, or service user contact, are the ones best informed on what your audience is thinking and feeling about your business. Make sure you have ways of getting this feedback and have scheduled time to discuss what it means for the organization and its plan.

Your organization, and the teams within it, will work far more efficiently and effectively when they know their place in the plan and can feel secure in the rhythm of its expectations. Make sure that you communicate frequently to reassure everyone that there is strong leadership.

The sum of all parts

Smart businesses know that to achieve a goal, every element of the business must be aligned with achieving that purpose. Highlighting the interdependency between all areas of your organization is a strength rather than a weakness.

Examine how each part comes together, what its function is and how it might be improved to better meet the plan and achieve the desired goals. This is what innovative organizations do: remove any friction to make operations as smooth as possible, reduce time wasted and prevent the need for work to be done multiple times.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

When your organization is not aligned, the best plans will always have a part missing, face resistance or simply fail. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL our goal is to help you achieve organizational alignment, by working with you to create a bespoke plan for your desired vision.

We want to help you create an organization that thrives on honest and open communication, that builds functional and useful plans that include everyone, whether they are executives, customer facing employees, or service partners. Let us help you unlock your future potential, by realizing the power of organizational alignment… in practice.

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?

Improving Customer Experience

Customer satisfaction happy feedback rating checklist and business quality evaluation concept 3D illustration.

Defining improvement can be a tricky subject. At the most basic level, anything that is measurably better than it was before, can be considered as having made an improvement. The real issue is what we choose to measure.

Most of us love making improvements, whether they are personal ones to improve our health, or equipping ourselves better to perform the tasks that generate our financial stability.

Understanding customer experience (CX) and how to create successful CX strategies, is complicated by the vast range of potential measurables and how to implement actions that generate the desired changes.

Starting small

One common mistake in implementing effective CX strategies, is to take a top-down approach trying to implement ambitious changes all at once. This can create an enormous feedback loop in the system that can lead to a domino effect of challenges that had not originally been foreseen.

Making huge changes to improve one area can also negatively impact the more stable and successful areas of your organization.

You might try an alternative more basic approach by simply starting with the customer. Make sure there are ways to gather feedback, and record complaints to deal with the individual as soon as any issue happens. Analyse the information and decide if the feedback is contextually valid and requires further action. Then ensure that action is taken to fix the problem, address it and most importantly, let the customer know the problem is being taken care of. So much customer loyalty can be won by simply letting customers know their complaints have been taken seriously and addressed. And a customer who has a complaint resolved well is more loyal than a customer who didn’t have a complaint at all.

So, what do I measure?

There are several ways to go about this, but the basics are the same. You might choose measurable data points that paint a simple picture of your successes in managing customer experience. Or you might focus on problem resolution, measuring just the negative comments from customers or service users.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is a middle ground, achievable by looking at the positive and the negative, as well as how they affect each other.

For example, focus too much on only resolving issues customers complain about and you will miss out on feedback around the things you are doing to successfully engage them.

If you want strong and useful data, metrics should be chosen that reflect your organizations values, vision, and purpose. 60% of new business in the UK go bust in the first three years; a poor understanding of data metrics and how to pick and apply them is one of factors that contributes to such high rates of failure.

Everyone wants to make money quickly, but outlasting the competition, building a strong brand identity, and most importantly developing a loyal consumer base, will pay off far more in the long run than two or three years of in a business relying on quick profits over customer experience.

Measure profit, in terms of revenue and sales growth, but also make sure to measure customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. Measure how your customers are interacting with your organization and find a way to do this where they feel comfortable engaging. Automated options only work if the customer base will use them.

What if its unmeasurable?

Sometimes there are too many variables and getting an accurate numeric measure on the success of a project can be ambiguous. Customer experience is a highly subjective area. Soft as well as hard measures can be a valuable way to establish the whole story; in the hotel sector, there might be a guest satisfaction survey in the rooms and, at the same time, VIP guests might be invited to a drinks reception hosted by the hotel manager to share their feedback.

You can use the tangible data to build strategies and tactics that give you more room to take risks on some of the more subjective elements of customer service.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in understanding the customers’ journey, from start to finish. Not simply understanding the impact on profit margins, but developing those personally subjective relationships with each and every customer but connecting the organizations values and purpose to the way it then engages with its consumer base. If you are struggling to navigate the complexities of building great customer experience, we can help you create strategies and systems of measurement that will give you greater insight into where you are and help you get to where you want to be.

Employee Engagement is a two-sided coin

In an increasingly technology dependent world, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that people (employees) are often the first point of contact your customers or services users have with your organization. When they are motivated and equipped to do the job, employees can be valuable ambassadors for your brand, but, at the same time, if their needs are ignored, they can become despondent and unmotivated, not performing at their best and having a potentially damaging impact; both of these outcomes have a critical effect on your organization’s image, and overall performance (including financial performance).

When you are able to establish a sense of shared values, engaged employees become the best asset you have for representing your organization and what it stands for to others and, in turn, this will create sustained performance over time.

The flipside of employee engagement

When done well, employee engagement will become a powerful tool. But when it is not managed well, it can cause serious challenges with an employee’s ability to cope and manage their workload and stressors. Burnout occurs when people reach a point of consistent mental or physical exhaustion; most commonly brought on by periods of prolonged stress.

How you implement your employee engagement strategy will play a key role for employees in determining the health of the relationship they have with the work they do. Engagement and motivation are achieved through connecting to an employee’s sense of worth and purpose. But this is a starting point rather than a silver bullet. Constant care and attention are needed in understanding the demands of day-to-day work and how different people respond in different ways. Stress associated with achieving results can have a positive impact on one person and the opposite on another. Managing the differences at a human level might be the single most important aspect of employee engagement and leadership.

Motivational balance

Having employees driven by purpose, aligned with your organization’s values will add consistent and positive value to your business. But purpose driven work can also create huge pressure where employees might not be able to switch off from their work, creating potentially destructive stress cycles. By way of example, consider some people who work in the health care sector. They are highly committed to providing the best level of care and service possible but sometimes this is at a cost to their personal wellbeing.

It is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of their employees’ wellbeing, to ensure that their engagement doesn’t come at the cost of their health. And sometimes employers might be tempted to take advantage of high levels of commitment. Do you know people who have worked when they are sick, not taken holiday they are entitled too, or worked on their days off? These examples should not be taken as examples of employee engagement because they are instead examples of abuse of employee engagement.

Sustainable practice

Correctly motivating and engaging employees is a complex process. In a world where stress can feel like a normal state of being, the sense of burnout that can occur from being in a constant state of anxiety, will more often than not have a negative impact.

The best employee engagement practices are those that focus on sustained commitment and performance over the long term rather than short term performance and financial results.

Responsible engagement

Responsible engagement begins with the employer correctly identifying the values and purpose of the organization, before communicating that to the employees. But it is not enough to tell the employees what they should value. It needs to be lived in the way everybody in the organization behaves when things are going well, and especially when things aren’t going well.

The key point is that motivation and engagement are not necessarily wholly positive elements in themselves. They need to be correctly managed and understood, so that employees have the time to give their best, to learn, grow and develop, and to feel a sense of fulfilment.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, our mission is to help organizations create effective employee engagement strategies, that don’t place profit over people. That help you find the natural grooves in your values and purpose to create excellent customer experiences for your customers and service users, while teaching your employees how to recognise their worth personally and as part of a larger organization.

Customer Service and Effective CX Strategies

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Customer service is one of those areas that seems to be written and talked about by experts and put forward as the key to business success. And yet how often do we experience outstanding customer service? Rarely. Outsourcing of customer service functions, poor understanding of the importance of quality service and limited ways to effectively resolve issues all play a part in making customers feel at best frustrated and at worst, invisible with no voice once an organization has taken their money.

This approach to customer service takes its toll because if customers aren’t having a good experience, they are more likely to try out a competing brand or service. It is good to remember that your competitor is only one mouse click away.

CX reimagined

Imagine a world where customer service is the key strategy… in practice; where customer service delivery shapes all decisions and choices by everybody in the organization; where the best measurement and insight tools create tailormade user profiles for each customer, specifically designed to give everyone the best possible experience and interaction with the organization; where the business leaders are obsessed with creating and improving purposeful interactions, that keep the customers feeling valued, in a sustainable but ever evolving way.

What is it and why should I care?

A customer experience (CX) strategy is a plan that focuses on a value-based holistic approach to customer service and interaction. One that places less important on making customers buy the product or service, and more on how they feel while they do it.

This is by no means an easy task. It requires a detailed understanding of not only the purpose of your organization, but a willingness to view customers through the lens of their values and emotions, rather than just their wallets.

Most important is a thorough understanding of the customers’ journey. Here are some questions to consider:

• How do customers find you?
• How are you making your products/services available to customers?
• What are your customers’ motivators e.g. necessity to buy, lack of alternatives, best value, ease of purchase/delivery/use, values alignment, loyalty to your brand or organization?
• If they are loyal, do you understand why?

Consider the simple matter of how easy it is for customers to make contact across a range of channels. If it is difficult and/or complicated to get information or to make a complaint, customers might become disengaged from your organization, and far more likely to change their brand allegiance.

Where do I start?

The world of marketing and advertising has evolved. Previously, the product or service was created and then ‘sold’ to the customer, not just on a rational (often financial) basis but emotively as well. But as the markets have become flooded with competing brands, creating positive differentiation has become more of a challenge.

The key to starting a good CX plan is to consider the customer experience, before the product, and work your way backwards. What do people value and what are they missing? How will they feel if they can get what they consider to be lacking or be connected to an organization that shares their values.

Start there and work your way back to the product/service you offer and then the processes necessary to create and implement it. When you not only meet, but exceed a customer’s expectations, they are far more likely to be repeat customers, and not only that, but are also more likely to become brand ambassadors, offering ever-valuable free word of mouth recommendation. Today, your organizational stakeholders are the new marketing department.

Listen to the people you want to serve

One of the common errors in effective CX strategy development, is a failure to effectively measure, understand and then implement changes on customer feedback. Profit is not a great indicator of customer service. When given competing options, customers have no reason beyond you having met a basic required need or service, to not jump ship when treated even fractionally better by another brand.

Creating multi-channel lines of engagement is a great way to not only gain vital feedback but to also give customers a freedom of choice in how they interact with you. Some may prefer social media, others email, and still others to speak to a human being on the phone. But the key to this is having as many ways as possible for customers to feedback about their experiences, if you can’t effectively measure their experiences, then how can you hope to improve their experience?

When you have taken the time and trouble to collect data, make sure that it is analysed and used to make decisions. If this doesn’t happen, what was the point in collecting the data in the first place?

Effective resolution

If you are looking to improve customer service, don’t wait until there is a problem to be fixed. Take a proactive approach, for example having a live chat assistant on your website to help deal with any queries about your organization before they become complaints. Or by having a dedicated customer support line for customers to voice their concerns before making a purchase. Two key points to remember with problem resolution: first, do everything possible to resolve an issue at the first point of contact; secondly, always view the problem from the customer’s perspective (and understand that this can vary from one customer to another).

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL our goal is to help you create the most effect CX strategy, regardless of your organization’s size. We can help you understand the limitation of your current strategies, and help you create and implement strategies that offer the best customer engagement possible, through measurement, insight, and optimization. When coupled with an ability to continuously learn and adapt to your customer feedback, your CX strategy will begin to take on a life of its own, one that will always be aimed at creating even better customer experiences.

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