By Shep Hyken
I recently had a fascinating conversation with Vibhas Ratanjee on my Amazing Business Radio show. Ratanjee is the senior practice expert at Gallup. We discussed research they conducted on how to create a better customer experience (CX). We talked about both customer and employee engagement, which are two big drivers in the overall experience. Here are a few of the highlights from the interview along with some of my commentary.
1. Service values are similar to core values.
These define standards of service regarding how to delight customers, and they should also ignite and inspire employees. For years I’ve preached that every company should have a service or experience vision. I call it a mantra. It is every bit as important as the vision and mission statements of a company. It also sets up the service values. The key to a good service vision is to keep it short—one sentence or less. The Ritz-Carlton has a nine-word statement that sums up exactly what they are about when it comes to the guest experience: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” And then following that overarching statement, which is easily learned and memorized by all employees, there are 12 service values that everyone is trained to. This is what sets up the customer experience. Define your mantra and then back it up with a list of service values.
2. Leaders must recognize that the customer experience starts on the inside with employees.
Ratanjee said, “A customer-centric culture is one where everyone (every employee) is engaged in creating emotional engagement for our customers.” The keyword here is emotional. We aren’t interested in just satisfied or repeat customers. We want customers who are emotionally tied to us. That comes from the company and employees properly engaging with the customer and creating a connection. Furthermore, this can be measured in three areas: pride, passion and confidence. Are employees proud of where they work? Do they have passion for what they do? Have they been properly trained to the point of creating confidence in their work? And, if you flipped that to focus on customers, you could ask the same questions. Are they proud and passionate about the company they do business with? If so, would they be willing to share their experiences with others? Do they have confidence in the company? All that leads to an emotional connection.
3. Management plays a key role in the customer-centric culture.
Seventy percent of the variance in employee engagement is tied to the manager—how he or she interacts with and supports the employees. Mangers drive not only employee engagement, but also customer engagement as a result.
4. Leaders must immerse themselves in the customer experience.
In many organizations, there is a disconnect between the leadership and the front line. To avoid the disconnect, leaders should spend time doing at least two things. First, mystery shop the company. Find out what it’s like to call the company and ask for support. Second, spend time on the front line. That could be sitting next to a customer service agent and even taking some support calls. Or, it could be spending time with salespeople when they are talking to or meeting with prospects and current customers. The goal is firsthand experience and feedback from the customer.
5. Everyone is involved in the customer experience.
That includes people who have no direct interaction with the customer. All employees need to understand their impact. The person working in the warehouse never sees the customer, but if he or she packs the box the wrong way and it shows up with damaged merchandise, the customer won’t be happy. As Ratanjee puts it, “Even if you’re behind the scenes, you need to know how you directly and indirectly impact the customer experience and customer engagement.”
6. Give your customers a voice in the company.
You must know what your customers are thinking: what they want, expect, feel that they’re missing, and more. Consider actively involving them in problem solving. Give them a seat at the table for important discussions about new products, changes and more. In a customer-centric organization, you must always be thinking about how any decision will impact the customer. Making them part of the process ensures you understand your customers.
Leaders want a return on their investment in all areas of the company. If you want to bolster your customer experience, you have to prove ROI before leadership will approve your request. The Gallup research indicates that engaged customers represent a 23% premium over average customers in terms of share of wallet and profitability. Actively disengaged customers, or “terrorist customers” as Ratanjee calls them, can take back 8% from the company. I’ll sum it up with Ratanjee’s words: “Fully engaged employees and customers translate into greater profit and success for your company.”
This article originally appeared at https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2021/01/17/gallup-executive-shares-six-ways-to-drive-customer-and-employee-engagement/?sh=fd1cf667cd79