Tag: Strategic Implementation

Customer Journey Mapping

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” Steve Jobs

One of the most helpful tools for Customer Experience Management is customer journey mapping, used to understand and define the customer experience. There are many variations of this technique, and our aim is to highlight some points for you to bear in mind if you think this might be a useful initiative. Your customer’s journey is each of the interactions they have with your organization through your various touch points. This could be instore, via email or social media, the in-person service they receive or the online interactions they have with your employees.

65% of customers are more influenced by great experience than by advertising. If you get your customer journey right, you are more likely to create happy and loyal customers. Many of these will go on to be excellent word of mouth ambassadors for your brand, as well as repeat customers.

How to map your map

Start by considering the end-to-end journey of the customer, even if this includes areas over which you have little or no control. If you are a train company, the local car park is part of your customers’ experience. It will affect customers’ perception of your offer (even if it is provided by a third party) and might have an impact on your business (e.g., the car park is always full, is badly maintained or is prone to vandalism and there is another train station close by).

Common sense

At each stage of the customer journey, all the senses need to be considered to design and implement the optimum customer experience. In a banking client’s office, we discovered that mail room employees wheeled a trolley through the reception area, where important visitors were awaiting their host. The trolley had the loudest squeaky wheels you can imagine and clearly this did not support and reinforce the smooth, sophisticated image the bank wished to portray.

The senses can be used to emphasize the uniqueness of a branded customer experience. Abercrombie & Fitch was one of the first businesses to use scents in their stores and in their marketing. In Ritz Carlton hotels you will hear employees say, “It’s my pleasure” and never “That’s Ok” or “No problem”. Tiffany’s iconic shade of ‘robin’s egg’ blue, trademarked as Tiffany Blue is ubiquitous on everything from jewellery boxes to shopping bags to advertising.

Know, do, feel

It is also important to think about what you want the customer to know, do and feel at each stage of the journey or at key touchpoints. Using the example of a hotel registration, welcoming a guest back to the hotel and providing them with a registration card for their signature lets them know that you have remembered their previous visit, prompts them to provide their signature and makes them feel valued as a returning guest. The key card can then be issued in a small card ‘wallet’ displaying their room number and signature so they can present it to charge any services to their room account during their stay. This wallet can also include other information about the hotel’s facilities, and the receptionist can offer to make a dinner reservation before directing the guest to their room.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we help organizations to develop their customer journey maps as a foundational tool in their Customer Experience strategy. If you think this is an area that could help improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales, why not see how the SERVICEBRAND approach could help you?

Experience-led workplace design

Building customer experience (CX) can be a real challenge, it requires a great deal of data, understanding and the right application of insights about your customers’ desired outcomes. Not only this, but also how to create the kind of experience that leads customers to a better perception of your offering that they may not have had before.

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology” Steve Jobs

Experience-led design is not new, and most people will have experienced and benefitted from this approach using any Apple product, hence the Steve Jobs quote above. However, in commercial real estate, the ‘customer experience’ is often designed and delivered subsequently within the confines of the physical design.

There are clear and obvious disadvantages with this: imagine a new office with a beautifully designed reception desk but where there is a desire to reinforce personal service and a hosting style reception service with no barriers. The best results and least waste can only be achieved by designing the workplace customer experience first and then using this to inform the design of the built environment.

In practical terms, the first step is to create a strategic vision brief, articulating the purpose of the project, the values and brand concept and a high-level customer journey experience, covering all senses and the aspiration for how ‘customers’ will feel, what they will know and do. The built design and service delivery model can then flow from this starting point.

Well-being

Another dimension of customer experience in a workplace environment is the topic of well-being which has gained traction in the last 5 years or so – organizations are increasingly investing time and energy in this area. The well-being topic is wide ranging and covers a spectrum of topics from physical wellbeing (diet, hydration, exercise, sleep), an array of mental health issues, spiritual well-being (prayer facilities), employment factors (adequate pay and working hours), environmental factors (office design, ergonomics, biophilia, air quality, temperature, light and sound), social wellbeing (interaction and collaboration with colleagues), and even the benefit of an adrenalin rush.

Facilities management plays a key role because the function delivers so many of these wellbeing related services and facilities. The BCO’s 2018 research report, Wellness Matters, states that employee wellbeing is intricately linked to employee productivity and is boosted by spacious, naturally lit offices with good air quality and amenities.

Built environment

The scope of the physical design can also be extended to how different styles of workspaces can support different types of work (e.g. confidential calls, deep concentration, collaboration, creative thinking etc) and the importance of areas to take a break.

Some workspaces are designed deliberately to create specific traffic flows or impromptu ‘meetings’. I remember an office I visited in Johannesburg where the CEO had escalators installed as a central feature – wanting to avoid the silence he had witnessed between groups of employees when they used the elevators. There has been an increasing interest in biophilic office design: bringing the outdoors into the workplace and results in improved productivity, increased concentration levels, greater creativity, enhanced wellbeing, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and improved employee retention.

The cost versus investment perspective is well demonstrated by looking at the decision about whether to provide catering and/or kitchen space in an office. From a pure cost perspective, this is often a large area of expensive real estate, especially if the space is only fully used at lunch time. On the other hand, the space can be a highly effective vehicle for organizational communications, a potential area for collaboration and informal networking, a way to provide healthy food for employees and is convenient, avoiding any need for people to leave the building. As we are now learning, employees that have time to make and build friendships at work are far more productive than those that don’t.

We also know companies who do not have catering space because they have made a strategic decision to support the local business community. You can see that what might seem to be a simple decision at face value can involve a complex set of considerations and COVID-19 has added a whole new dimension with the office versus work from home (or elsewhere) dynamic.

Style

The final layer is the style of service delivery. The combination of the style of service, range of services and built environment are a strong message to employees and visitors about what is important to the organization, and we recommend to clients that the area of corporate real estate services is given sufficient focus and attention.

Research shows that workplaces that have been designed in tune with employee sentiment deliver a significant upswing in pride. There is a commonly held belief that people who experience a certain level of admiration derived from the efforts and achievements of their employer are more likely to become brand ambassadors for the company in question, and this can only go on to have a positive impact on a customer’s experience.

The new ‘workplace’

This area has taken on a whole new dimension now that the scope of ‘workplace’ has been extended by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two fundamental developments:
1) For many office workers, the office is no longer the de facto place of work. The organization leaders in workplace need to consider how employees can be equipped to be as productive and fulfilled as possible, individually and collectively.
2) Because there is a viable, and often desirable alternative to the office, the organization leaders in workplace have a challenge to make the office a place that employees want to come to work … with experience-led workplace design.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in experience-led workplace design. Twenty years ago, I moved from the commercial hospitality sector (five-star hotels, conference centres and restaurants) and used this experience to implement experience-led workplace design with an award-winning One Team supply chain approach. If you are looking to improve the design and service delivery in your organization’s workplace to attract and retain talent and maximise productivity and fulfilment, let’s explore how SERVICEBRAND Global can help.
This blog is based on Chapter 19, Workplace from The Values Economy

The Power of Affirmations

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do they look like?

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

Four Guidelines for Effective Affirmations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you use them?

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

Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.
Jim Rohn

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

So what? Do they work?

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

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

– fostering better problem-solving

– helping deal with threats to our self-integrity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awareness: Part 2

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

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

Feedback loops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perception

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

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

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

The Truth perspective

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Building a Community at Work

We are social beings and find isolation challenging. This simple statement is well understood, yet the damaging nature of a lack of interaction and connection with others seems underrepresented and underestimated.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront issues of isolation and loneliness. It highlighted the stress we feel when our sense of community and connection is taken away. The impact can be immediate and is detrimental to varying degrees. Our mental health and sense of well-being is affected as well as our personal and professional relationships.

Hybrid work is now becoming a new reality for many organizations. So how can we build a sense of community among different people that aren’t necessarily inhabiting the same physical space?

Why stress matters

Stress comes in many forms and is a natural reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. The great philosophers suggest we need a certain amount of eustress to feel pushed and driven to overcome the challenges of life. However, too much stress seriously impacts our health, both physical and mental.

We might feel anxious, doubt our self-worth, feel irritable and be unpleasant to be around. All these things affect our ability to work well in teams and further push us towards greater isolation and loneliness. Loneliness and lack of connection are distressing, causing greater levels of stress that, in turn, create behaviours that result in further isolation. It is a vicious downward spiral.

Even before the Covid pandemic, stress related illnesses were a leading cause of hospital admissions in the UK, costing over £8bn in 2019.

Getting connected

In a pre-pandemic world, in countries like UK, we are likely to spend 9 and half years over the course of our lifetimes in the company of the people we work with. If workplaces no longer provide this connection, we will become distanced from one another. The part of us that desires a sense of community, that doesn’t want to be isolated, might start to feel stressed in this situation.

Good company culture isn’t just about employees doing a job. Its about connecting employees to an overarching sense of meaning and purpose, that makes them valued, involved, and fulfilled, while working with others to achieve a goal.

There is nothing wrong with having a strong individual work ethic. Some people are better equipped to work alone. But individualism has its limitations. No matter how frequently you might hear workplace rhetoric about being ‘the only person for the job’ or ‘doing it myself, because others won’t get it right’, ultimately, performance is delivered by people working with other people.

Building community

Building community within any organization is about more than an office pizza day or a zoom coffee morning check in session. Henry Mintzberg highlights the importance of ‘communityship’ Rebuilding Companies as Communities (hbr.org) and shares these lessons:

1. Community building in an organization may best begin with small groups of committed managers.

2. The sense of community takes root as the managers in these groups reflect on the experiences they have shared in the organization.

3. The insights generated by these reflections naturally trigger small initiatives that can grow into big strategies.

4. As these initial teams promote change, they become examples for other groups that spread communityship throughout the organization.

5. An organization knows that communityship is firmly established when its members reach out in socially active, responsible, and mutually beneficial ways to the broader community.

In summary, Minzberg refers to a healthy society balancing leadership, communityship, and citizenship.

I can relate this concept of communityship to several roles in corporate organizations and cultural transformation projects. In all these situations, the goal was to create a strong sense of community spirit, for every member of the team to feel a sense of belonging and value, and to be proud of what the team was achieving. There were several pillars that enabled this. They might have looked different for different situations but shared these common underpinnings:

1. A clear, well communicated statement of the team vision
2. The importance of every person’s contribution
3. Interdependence
4. Everybody had a voice even if not everyone could decide
5. Acknowledgement of the person (not just the role they performed)
6. Respect and support collective decisions (even if you do not agree personally)
7. Recognise and celebrate achievements
8. Share disappointments and learn for next time
9. Equity and no ‘seniority privilege’

These principles have been applied and been effective in a single business unit, multi-site organizations, a large global organization in different locations around the world and even in ‘extended team’ settings such as supply chain service partner groups.

This collection of research in the area will be an interesting follow on read for those who are curious to know more Workplace Communities: The Research (cultivateall.com)

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in creating a sense of community in organizations. The SERVICEBRAND approach and associated tools and techniques enable this. When your business runs in an interconnected way, your employees will be happier, more motivated, and far more efficient and productive. They will be loyal and proud ambassadors for your business. If you are struggling to build a strong company community, why not see what SERVICEBRAND Global can do for you?

Engaging Employees

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek

Everybody has days of low motivation and energy from time to time. But in some organizations, for many employees this is the norm rather than the exception. They are content to set themselves on autopilot – not to do bad work, but not focused, engaged or directed to excel either.

It is not that disengaged employees are intentional in their desire to reduce your organization’s efficiency, reputation, and profitability. They just aren’t motivated and passionately engaged to give their best.

The Plague of disengagement

When have you experienced that contagious feeling of disengagement? It might have been as a customer, dealing with a disengaged employee, or as an employee yourself, perhaps excited to begin a new role, only to discover that your colleagues are not as engaged or connected to fulfilling the same purpose.

In these moments, the lack of motivation and engagement is palpable, and spreads easily. It can spread seeds of doubt, dash hopes and make people reconsider and re-evaluate their choices. People become less focused on being the kind of employee they thought they’d have the opportunity to be, instead focusing more on if their choices are right, or even if they matter. Disengagement is powerful and not to be underestimated.

Why engagement matters

Having the ‘right’ people is only as good as their level of engagement, motivation and alignment with your organization’s purpose and values. When your employees are engaged, they stand ready to do more than just the bare minimum. They will be excited to face challenges, to innovate and foster creativity, all the while having a high level of pride in the work they do.

One third of employees are leaving their jobs to seek new challenges that better engage, motivate, and align with their values. If you don’t take action to address how you are engaging your own, your top talent will leave in search of a more meaningful existence.

Engaged employees are around 21% more efficient and productive than their disengaged counterparts. This translates to tremendous added value in terms of performance, efficiency, profitability, retention, and customer satisfaction.

Employee Experience

Employees are organizational stakeholders in the same way as customers are. In both cases the objectives from the organization’s perspective are similar: attract and retain, engage, make productive, and create advocates of the organization. The term employee experience and the abbreviation Exis being used increasingly in a similar way to the use of CX was adopted in the field of Customer Experience. In Chapter 7, Employee Engagement in our book The Values Economy, How to Deliver Purpose-Driven Service for Sustained Performance we identify eleven stages of the EX. In the SERVICEBRAND approach a critical feature is the alignment of brand identity with employee engagement because, just as with customers, the employee experience does not exist in a vacuum. The experience is more relevant and meaningful when it is rooted in the organization’s brand identity.

Appreciation

In my experience, the best return on investment in business is appreciation (including recognition). When employees feel appreciated, the levels of engagement, happiness, and productivity increase, sometimes dramatically.

Appreciation (and recognition) works best when it is intrinsic. This is not to say that you should not consider some form of financial or material reward, but this should not be the dominant element. It also needs to be proportionate, so, if your company achieves record profits because of your employees’ hard work, consider how to express your appreciation of their efforts. This can be from a whole range of options from a personal thank you from the CEO, some form of team based ‘reward’ or more tangible compensation and benefits ideas.

The role of hierarchy is an interesting area. There is often a focus on recognition from senior leaders and we know that this instils a great sense of pride. On the other hand, if you want to boost your employee engagement, encourage peer to peer recognition. This will incentivise your employees to support one another, feel more connected, and be more engaged with the organization as a whole.

Peer to peer recognition frees senior management from being the gatekeepers of praise, and highlights behaviour that is valued ‘on the ground’.

Finally, people have an excellent ability to sniff out disingenuousness. If you aren’t being authentic with your thanks and backing this up with credible action, your employees disengagement can slide from passively unmotivated to actively malicious. The bottom line is to express appreciation for your people, or they’ll seek it elsewhere.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe in engagement as a powerful tool for productivity, employee satisfaction and retention. Why not see how the SERVICEBRAND approach could be tailored to help the leaders in your organization to build a more satisfied, engaged and productive workforce?

How to Deliver Sustained CX Performance

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

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

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

Never stop measuring

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

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

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

Little and often

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

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

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

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

Anonymous or not?

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

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

Happy employees make for happy customers

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Values Driven Organizations

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

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

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

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

What are Values?

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

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

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

Making the right choices

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

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

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

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

Beware mixed messages

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

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

Motivated people motivate

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Values as a Competitive Differentiator

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

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

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

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

Setting up for success

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

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

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

Benefits of knowing your Values

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

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

Consistency is key

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

Finding the flow

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Tools to Manage Customer Unhappiness

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

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

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

What not to do

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

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

Set the tone

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

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

Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

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

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