Earlier this month we held a Customer Experience Breakfast Club in London, in partnership with Nimbus Ninety. The event generated some great ideas around rethinking and rebuilding the customer experience. Anar Bata, Research and Events Producer at Nimbus Ninety, reflects on the event in this guest blog.
We live in an on-demand world. Consumers often have a clear vision of not only what they want, but how and when they expect to get it.
Everything a business does must now be viewed through the lens of consumer demand. The bar has been raised; and today, consumers expect to reach out and grasp what they want simply and without effort.
Or rather, not without effort: it’s just that the effort is now yours.
External vs Internal Challenges
Organisations face both external and internal challenges when managing customer preferences. Externally, companies struggle with understanding their customers’ expectations, as well as mapping their end-to-end journey.
A customer is likely to interact with a company at multiple different points on their journey, meaning that they interact with different teams. Because traditional organisations generally operate on siloed channels, providing a customer with a consistent journey is hard. When you silo departments, you also silo employees’ field of view. Siloed employees miss important issues with a customer journey, and sometimes become parochial in their focus on their own processes at overall expense to the customer.
Almost all participants agreed siloed teams damaged their organisations’ ability to understand and meet customer needs in this vein. Departments often work independently of one another, when in reality there should be collaboration amongst the entire organisation to ensure a customer is properly taken care of.
This requires a balancing act as companies must not only ensure their services are secure and relevant, but also intuitive. Desiloisation becomes another challenge on the pile, albeit one key to solving the rest.
One approach is to understand that your employee is your #1 customer; and to act accordingly.
Employers should view their workforce as their largest customer base, as they drive business outcomes. Leadership should aim to identify the overarching business goals and what the company is hoping to achieve, and ensure that both the employee and customer journeys are organised with the key goals in mind.
If each employee understands their relevance to overall business goals and how they are specifically contributing to the outcome, they will be incentivised to work harder. Empowered employees will be better able to sympathise with consumers and should therefore be treated as integral parts to the customer journey. Automation should replace monotonous tasks, freeing employees to focus on more personal aspects within the customer journey. Employers who understand the need for empathy when interacting with customers will be better prepared to fend off competitors as they will have a deeper, more connected understanding of their customer.
A happy workforce will also increase customer loyalty. Ensuring that your employees are well taken care of will lead to them working with greater focus. Employees go from cogs in a machine to empowered decision-makers and representatives of you and your brand to your customer. Ensure voices are heard, make certain they are heard, and award responsibility.
Satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the company for longer and to be more productive on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, de-siloing organisations and making sure teams understand the other departments will help employees in providing the customer with a more consistent journey across channels.
Convenience will also bolster customer loyalty. If your services are easier to use, and consistent across channels, your customers will be more likely to stay.
One participant gave the example of when he returned a top, bought online, in store. He explained how he was initially dreading the process. Previously, he had attempted to return an online purchase and was met with confusion because the prices didn’t match up and the employees in store refused to return the purchase made online.
In this instance, however, the cashier was able to scan the barcode on his receipt and immediately refund him. This easy interaction made both the employee and customer journey better by allowing the employee to immediately and efficiently assist the consumer, whilst also saving time.
This provides the perfect example of what matters to the customer when they interact with a company. The customer’s loyalty, and the employees' time, are simply too valuable in this case to quibble over a couple of pounds for.
Bringing in Benefits
Understanding how to create a better customer experience is really about creating the best employee experience. If employees have more knowledge on their consumers, they will know which people to target and the best way to maintain relationships with them. Educating your workforce so that they have the same information about overarching business goals will allow them to provide customers with a consistent, reliable experience.
This blog orginally appeared on the Nimbus Ninety website.