Tag: Representation

Jumpstarting Customer Trust

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

The power of the customer

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

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

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

Putting the customer first

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

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

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

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

The customer is always right

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

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

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

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

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

The wrinkle

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Engagement Focused Leadership

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

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

1 on 1

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

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

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

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

Leading with the right questions

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

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

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

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

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

The Value of listening

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

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

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

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

CX Looking to the Future

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

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

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

Access any time

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

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

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

Values-aligned AI

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

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

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

Individual Service

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

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

How to Build Unshakeable Customer Trust

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

Where to begin?

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

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

Practicing Empathy

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

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

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

The right thing at the right time

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

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

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

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

Tell the Truth

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

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

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

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

Building a better future

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

Why not see what SERVICEBRAND can do for you?

Communicating Organizational Values

Organizations are becoming more switched on to the importance of aligning their vision and purpose with their values. A set of clearly defined values can directly contribute to the creation of an inclusive, engaging, and strong organizational culture.

How well these values are understood has a direct impact on employee alignment. And also how well connected your customers and services users feel about your organization’s identity/brand as a whole.

The next hurdle

Defining these values can be a complicated task. We have dived into deeper discussions on how to identify the right values for your organization in previous blogs. The process, however, doesn’t end with a neat list of values. What comes next is the most difficult part. Successfully communicating them to your employees and to your wider audience as a whole.

Building understanding in a consistent and well explained manner is a keystone to developing company culture that supports your purpose and vision. This can be done by aligning everyone with actionable, values-led behaviours to embody while representing your organization.

Values are for living

Values are for living, not laminating. Of course, visual reminders can play a useful role in reinforcing the message around expected behaviours. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is the job done. The key is to focus on the specific behaviours you are looking to employ within your organization. For example if one of your stated values is ‘integrity’, you might put energy into ensuring that ‘We treat all of our service users equally.’

The words used as Values are nothing more than a label. They are highly subjective; each person might have a different idea about which behaviours they most readily associate with the words selected to represent the organization. That is why clear communication of the definition of the value word and the kinds of behaviour expected to reflect those values is so important.

The Leadership Shadow

The next important step in the effective communication of values, is also the most critical. People learn by example. Employees’ and customers’ perception is strongly influenced by the way employees in management and leadership roles behave. If the behaviour is in line with the stated values, then the perception of the brand is enhanced. If the behaviour doesn’t reflect the stated values, they will become, at best, confused, and, at worst, disenfranchised.

Anyone in a position of leadership must embody the values of the organization as a matter of personal behaviour. If you have disruption and discomfort in your leadership team around behaving accordingly, they might not be the right people to carry your vision and purpose forward.

Positive reinforcement from leaders will help employees feel supported and encouraged to adopt the right behaviours to best reflect the company’s desired image. Actions do indeed speak far louder than words. A key leadership role is to set the right tone of speech and behaviour for other employees to emulate.

Recognition and reward

Recognition (and sometimes rewards) is important in encouraging people to adopt new behaviours. It is not practical to fire people that don’t immediately fit and replace them with people that do. Change can and does happen, but it takes time, leadership, encouragement and sometimes incentives to change behaviours and perceptions.

When you see employees truly living your desired values, spotlight them with recognition and celebrate this widely to positively reinforce the desired behaviour. Other employees will understand the behaviours that are expected and those that are not accepted. Over time the desirable behaviours become the norm.

But be careful when instituting rewards programs, as they can and often do generate devious behaviours in order to secure a reward. They are great for spotlighting the right desired behaviours in the short term, but don’t have as much of a long-lasting effect as visual ques and learning by example.

SERVICEBRAND

It can be a challenge to identify the kind of organizational culture that would best fit your purpose. Figuring out how to communicate the values effectively and efficiently to everyone can present additional challenges. If you have already started or thinking to start down the path of a values, vision, and purpose assessment of your organization, and want to make sure that they are effectively communicated and embedded, SERVICEBRAND Global can help.

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.

Why Measurement and Insight Matters

Measurement and insight can be defined as the effective and efficient use of data to inform the future development of the organization at all levels. The purpose of collecting this data, is to give the organization’s leaders the best possible picture of the impact being made by the organization.

To impact in this regard means to have a strong influence or effect on someone or something. Impact is often associated with measurement and reward in organizations, especially those following a golden rule. “What get measured, gets done.”

If you are not measuring the impact your organization is having, nor the impact of external factors acting on it, then, how can you possibly create a strategy to effectively navigate the complexities of the organizational world?

The Measurement Matrix

Creating a measurement strategy can sometimes feel overwhelming, planning a strategy for how you will measure the things that will create this strategy can also feel like extra and unnecessary work.

Don’t let the multitude of strategic measurement and insight tools put you off, it is far simpler to create a flexible measurement matrix that can change and shift as you do, while retaining the ability to measure the right data.

Correctly measuring all the data available about your organization will give you a good indication about whether you are currently where you want to be. We start the process by looking at the organizations primary objective. What is the overarching goal of the business?

Once you know the answer to this question you can hold it up next to the collected measurement data and see if you believe the numbers reflect your goal, if you are underperforming against it, or if you have knocked it out of the park.

Target setting

Once you know if your overall objective is being achieved or not, it is time to start setting smaller goals or targets to help you course correct or plot a course to greater future growth in the organisation.

These goals can be slightly abstract, but your main focus should be in setting goals that are evidencable and measurable. If for example, one of your business goals is to measure customer experience. You must design surveys and methods of interaction, that allow your customers to give honest and in-depth replies. It is not enough to do one Twitter poll and consider your measurement achieved.

Performance indicators

The next step in making the measurement matrix as valuable as possible, is identifying which Key Performance Indicators you will use to keep your organization on track. For example, in the service industry, keeping track of the number of rooms booked, or event tickets sold, versus the number of complaints. Comparing positive and negative aspects of business is a great way to track and measure performance.
When you set reducing the number of complaints as a KPI, you build a strategy that focuses on identifying customer issues and resolving them as a matter of priority so that they don’t continue to affect other customers’ experiences.

Metrics and Analysis

The next steps seem like the easiest, but often tend to be where organizations struggle, as they fail to connect the dots between all the data they have collected and what they should then do with it to improve their organization’s performance.

It is impossible to cover every single metric, but with more collection strategies, you have more building material at your disposal to create plans and frameworks to greatly improve what your business does.

How you choose to analyse the data, will also affect your strategic planning. You might have very different results between online surveys and in-store or on location ones. If you aggregate these insights together, no one gets the data they need to make well-informed decisions. So, it is important to organise your metrics in a way that lets you create tangible KPIs for specific areas of your business. A nuanced and targeted approach is required to maximise effective and efficient strategic development.

Insight

The last part of any effective measurement matrix is insight. You have decided what data you want to collect and have successfully gathered it. Now is the time to combine each area of the matrix to create a fluid measurement strategy that lets you track your process, adapt, and overcome challenges and sets markers for potential future growth and direction.

The strategy becomes a compass that points always towards your organizations key objective. When the matrix is well-designed, it becomes easy to gain insight and perspective on your organization. It will tell you when you aren’t on track and guide you back to your goal.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we specialise in helping you plan your plan. We are strong supporters of measurement and insight as an aid to decision-making and accountability. It has never been cheaper or easier to collect data, and yet without strong leadership and understanding of the core objectives of the business, all of this information goes to waste in strategies that are too basic to accurately account for all the issues facing the organization. Let us help you get back on track.

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

Customer Experience on Modern Style Illustation. with Orange Arrow and Hand Drawn Icons Around. Customer Experience – Business Concept. Inscription on Brick Wall with Doodle Icons Around. 3D.

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.

Alignment And Governance

The last in our blog series on alignment, looks at governance, and the way in which conflict often arises when organizations move away from their values, causing misalignment with their service users, customers, and employees.

Governance is an amalgamation of policies, systems, and structures, along with a strategic, operational framework that aligns organizational leadership to take action, so that they can make effective decisions with accountability.

People over profits

In order to be successful organizations, need to move away from quantitative governance, towards a more qualitative model. When the discussion is always centred on quantity, alignment is at risk.

A common model for defining corporate governance is to describe it as comprising of four pillars: the board of directors, management, internal auditors, and external auditors. Gaining alignment among these pillars is not easy, but it is possible when you live your organizational values. People always have a sense of authenticity about the organizations they interact with. If the governance is strong, values-led and aligned purposefully, that message will permeate employees at all levels and out to customers, service partners and local communities.

“To lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The statement is so simple; it is easy to overlook its profound impact. With this statement, the Roundtable CEOs are acknowledging the impact their organizations have on all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, communities, and investors/shareholders) and linking the value they provide to these stakeholders to the success of their companies, communities, and country.

They have committed to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal fairly and ethically with suppliers, and support the communities in which they work. This is quite a change from the profit and shareholder focussed approach which (in the extreme) takes advantage of customers, pays employees as little as possible for as much performance as possible, intimidates suppliers to provide more for less and uses communities and environments as resources to be exploited, depleted, and consumed.

Shared values

The people who live most purposefully and boldly embody their values, are not always the best able to teach that value back to others. There are repeating and noticeable trends of the effect of misalignment, anytime a major CEO leaves the company they built; consider Steve Jobs, leaving the company he built when the governance? fell out of alignment with his purpose, only him to be re hired 11 years later, after consistent profit falls. He may not have been the best able to articulate his purpose, but he lived it consistently and his passion to live purposefully, helped build Apple’s cult-like following.

Today, people pay a premium for Apple products, in part because they relate to the company’s purpose of enriching people’s lives. This example should serve as a reminder to any governing body, not to fall out of alignment with the vision, purpose, and values of your organization.

That is not to say, you must live completely unrestrained and give everything away! More, it is about finding the balance between the head (governance and profitability) and the heart (Values and purpose). This is where alignment is key, when you are able to find a way to communicate purposefully, the profits come as a result of practicing authentic purpose. Lead with the heart but keep the head on track.

Governance evolved

The world is ever changing, the rigid reactive structures of old are being broken away, in favour of more active and fluid processes. These frameworks are more fit for purpose in the way they allow for quick changes to be made when things aren’t going right. Having a governing board that is not accountable to anyone else, will never generate meaningful results.

The same is true, when a board spends all of its time in conflict over the outcomes of misalignment, poor public image, low profit, unhealthy workplace cultures etc. It’s tough work, but if there is a problem with outcomes, it’s important to examine the root cause of those issues, not just talk about the issues themselves. Don’t get mad at the rain, understand why it’s raining.

When done right, governing bodies will not be waiting for the next crisis, they’ll be actively tackling the issues, to build trust within the societies they sit, rooting out unethical behaviour and giving people faith in their purpose.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND framework can support governing bodies because of the ‘whole organization’ approach we are able to provide. Starting with how the organization’s purpose and values inform everything that organization does (the good and the potentially limiting).

We can help you realign your organization, from the top down, across all service partners to provide the best possible customer or service user experiences. Tailor-made measurement and insight processes will cut away procedures that do not add value and implement effective communication, reporting and corrective strategies to ensure everyone knows how to be the best brand ambassador for your organisation.

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