In a world where many products and services are now seen as commodities, many organisations are struggling to find and retain customers. So, when your product starts to look like the others, what’s left is the relationship. As standard services and functionalities become similar, you must foster the emotions about and within your company.
Progressive businesses need to consider not only the relationship with its consumers, but its employees as well. And to build this lasting relationship, you need to know how to listen and when (and how) to act.
Rethink your customer relationship
Thomas G. Stemberg once said, “Forget branding and positioning. Once you understand customer behaviour, everything else falls into place.” While on the right track, analysis without action is just an academic exercise and many organisations are not good at either. Customers who have great experiences will remember them long after they have forgotten the price they paid.
And while you strive to deliver excellence, so does everyone else. Successful organisations need to focus on a unique resource, its relationship with customers. By understanding and servicing the emotional needs of the customer, you are more likely to develop a rapport.
And customers will pay more for the same product if they think your organisation is more likely to meet their emotional needs as well as their functional ones. Business consultancy Walker suggests that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
It’s about how the customer perceives and feels about what you do, as excellent products, great service and minimal effort all become a part of the ‘new normal’ expected from you and your competition.
More than an employee
While plenty of organisations are listening to the customer, fewer are paying as much attention to the people they expect to deliver those experiences, their employees. The Institute of Customer Service, stated that only a quarter of UK employees are actively engaged in their work, this leads to terrible repercussions with interactions.
In fact, 43 percent of customers said they would warn others not to shop at an organisation that has a bad employee experience. Everyone has experienced a potentially great experience let down by a disengaged, dispirited employee, soon enough neither you or they want to be there.
But more importantly employees are people too, and they might even be your customers. So, is the problem with the employee or with the organisation? The individual or the culture? The challenges organisations face in understanding customers are just as true with employees.
Listening to the emotional tempo of your organisation requires tools that are not widely gamed, such as those linked to compensation or promotion. Instead, look at the informal channels of electronic communication; chat boards, knowledge management systems and other proactive open discussion forums. This allows you to gain a fresh perspective.
Tying it in
When customers and employees are truly engaged amazing things start to happen: Relationships form, that transcend price or convenience, mere satisfaction becomes something deeper and longer-lasting (and profitable).
In a relationship we are prepared to overlook little niggles and forgive mistakes. Customers stay loyal despite your flaws and employees go above-and-beyond to promote your brand and values. There needs to be a re-commitment to the ‘relationship’ in customer relationship management (CRM) – you need to not just ‘know’ your customer, you need to understand them. Then you need to turn that analysis inward and think about employees in the same way.
There must be an authentic narrative that ties in both the customer and employee experience. Use the same tools, such as the ones we use at TTEC, to listen to the ‘Voice of the Employee’ just as you would listen to the ‘Voice of the Customer.’
Thinking about customer experience without considering employee experience puts you in danger of overlooking a valuable resource or a potential source of future trouble. True change requires paying attention to processes, technologies and people. It’s too tempting to think about customer experience solely as a function of the technologies or processes (the mechanics of CX) when these are the easiest things for your competitors to replicate.
Remember, when it comes to gauging real emotions, standard practices like surveys don’t work. The process is often riddled with biases and misleading results. Emotions are fleeting, and organisations need a better way to understand how people truly feel.
If you are operating in a commoditised sector, with competitors everywhere, where customers who defect the moment a slightly better offer comes along, consider the role of emotions and your business.
by Peter Dorrington. Director, Customer Insights at TTEC Digital
Inventor of the Customer Experience Vector – an entirely new method of combining data science with behavioural science to quantify Customer Experience and operationalise the results, Peter is a board-level adviser, information strategist and leader with nearly 20 years’ business development and operational experience in BI & analytics, customer experience and omni-channel marketing.
Peter’s work focuses on building customer relationship ecosystems that deliver lasting value for everyone; partnering with Marketing, Sales and Customer Care leaders to design and deliver simple, more human customer experiences that yield quantifiable business results.
If you would like to know more about how you can do that, I invite you to email me at Peter.firstname.lastname@example.org and a final word: action without analysis is anarchy – take a moment to think about your customer strategy, how much of it needs to be an employee strategy and how you will operationalise it.