We see it everywhere: Companies claiming to be “customer focused” or “we exist to serve our customers.” If companies really are embracing true customer experience, why are so many companies still struggling with getting the whole company to be the customer’s advocate?
The problem is that while companies now wish (or proclaim) to employ a holistic customer experience, the responsibility to do so is often stuck within the confines of a single department. Aligning a company and its employees along customer experience issues and findings means employees better understand what is happening in the minds of their customers. Employees thus carry out tasks more efficiently and effectively, as they know what the customer wants.
Let’s dive into two examples to understand this better.
In this scenario we find a company with a department in charge of researching the experience that their customers are having. With this research uncovering all kinds of issues that customers have across the entire company.
But here’s the issue: The findings are bottled up in long reports that are too complicated for other employees to decipher. Hence, simplified reports of key findings are created for department managers and upper management. Along the way though, the real voice of the customer is lost. This report is then given to upper management and although it is read, upper management ultimately shelves it, with it failing to be seen by the rest of the company.
As a result of this, there is a lack of commitment to customer experience by the rest of the company. As upper management hands down ideas and plans about what needs to change to improve the experience for the customer, there is a lack of understanding of where these changes are coming from. Commitment from employees to new changes is weak, as they do not see the connection between these changes and the customer.
They do not understand why the changes that have been handed down to them are important, and as such cannot engage with real enthusiasm for something that they do not understand the motivation of. As departments in this company receive findings by upper management, they are so diluted and vague that they instead debate amongst themselves what the customer wants or needs, as they have very little direct understanding of the customer.
This scenario begins just like the previous one, in that this company also has a department in charge of customer experience research. However, the internal workings of this company are slightly different from the previous scenario.
In this company the customer experience team still does the research to advise strategy, however in this company the customers voice is the strategy. Everyone in the company focuses around listening to the voice of the customer and not distilled reports or findings.
Raw data and feedback from customers is passed up to upper management to advise their strategy, with frontline reports not shelved or simplified for upper management but instead handed straight to the top.
Strategies that are created are then communicated in such a fashion that employees understand why they are important and why they work. In this company there is an unimpeded sharing of information about why strategies are the way they are. Reasons why strategies and goals are created are outlined, and in turn how they remedy problems that customers may have raised, are all openly shared amongst employees.
As everyone in the company has a real understanding of what the customer needs rather than assuming what they need, they feel more engaged. Knowing that the goals they have been set are solving real customer issues that they themselves have been informed about, means employees are more enthusiastic to carry out such tasks and find more worth in their own job.
This is radically different from scenario one, where employees view goals and transformations as merely corporate initiatives that are created with what appears to be very little to do with their own problems, and very little information as to what is the cause of such initiatives. In scenario two, employees see the cause behind initiatives that are created. They no longer see orders handed down as just the ponderings of upper management, but instead as a result of what customers are saying about them.
How to do it
Aligning people in your organization as was outlined in scenario two, seems all very amazing but it does not seem like an easy idea to carry out. Here at CustomerGauge we are big supporters of the Net Promoter System®’ and its ability to easily align a company around customer experience.
NPS provides a simple metric and commentary that can be easily understood right across a company. The information that arises can easily be filtered throughout a company. Initiatives that are created make sense for all employees, as it is possible to present them with the reasoning behind such initiatives. While employees feel a greater sense of purpose in fulfilling initiatives that are the direct result of what customers have said.
The simplicity of the metric also means that it can be tracked over time and act as a source of motivation for employees. It is a means by which to understand whether particular strategies were successful and hold people accountable for customer experience errors or successes. With employees able to hear the ‘voice of the customer,’ employees can better resolve customer issues through their direct realization of what customers are saying.
For example, one-way to practically spread NPS and the ‘voice of the customer’ throughout a company is to put up digital signage throughout a company. This signage can display the overall score of the company, and the individual feedback and score of customers. In this way employees right across the company are in touch everyday with what customers are saying about the company. As one of our clients, Phil Granof of Black Duck, puts it:
“With the NPS score and customer comments on screens across the organization, you can’t get coffee or lunch without seeing the score. So it invariably provokes conversation. And that presence makes it part of the organization.”
NPS's simple line of questioning and thus simple results means it functions not just as research tool but as a means by which to align a company around the customer. Rather than act as research that advises customer experience strategy, it acts as the strategy. With NPS, employees and executives alike are able to understand just what their customers are saying.