Customers who are raving fans generally don’t arrive thrilled. They are nurtured. They tend to require a winning experience that is highly personalized and sustained over time with a business, before they assume the title of raving fans. When we see businesses with many raving fans as customers, it’s because those businesses may have followed a painstaking process that would have evolved into carefully curated customer relationships.
Let’s take a quick walk-through of the journey to eradicating service laxity. Three big actions should be considered. Disturbing the norm, putting a minimum digital infrastructure in place and introducing a behavioural, cultural and business system shift. All of this is launched with a first question of, “What do we need to know about great customer experience?” By asking this question, the business is acknowledging its ignorance and boosting its chances of success due to its humility.
Disturbing the norm has to start at the top of the business. A useful and critical first step, is to make the topic of customer success a boardroom topic that has its own agenda. For this topic to be taken seriously across the business, it needs to be a priority item. In almost all of the transformation interventions in which I have been involved, there is a boardroom baptism, followed by a boardroom-sanctioned rollout across the business.
When we see businesses with many raving fans as customers, it’s because those businesses may have followed a painstaking process that would have evolved into carefully curated customer relationships.
Having roused the business out of its state of inertia, leaders should work on preventing slippage. One way of doing this is to stimulate an appetite for credible data, so that questionable “guesstimates” that may have been accepted previously as reliable references about service delivery quality, are abandoned. Data tells the business where and how customers are experiencing service failures and what can be done to fix the weaknesses.
Of course we can’t underscore enough, the need to integrate digitalization into how products and services are delivered to customers. Thanks mostly to the demands of a pandemic, there’s a new digital minimum to conducting business that has forced online convenience and comfort and produced a checklist of minimum infrastructure basics that businesses should have in place. For the record, I’m still amazed at how many businesses are lacking in this area, since the pandemic showed us the playbook with great clarity.
We’re now moving into the zone of compliance. This is the zone where laxity can be abandoned, for good. Here’s where the business can begin to demonstrate whether or not it’s serious about excellence by on-boarding the really disruptive changes that cause employees to realize that there’s a commitment to achieving a permanent change in the way service is going to be delivered, going forward.
Three big actions should be considered. Disturbing the norm, putting a minimum digital infrastructure in place and introducing a behavioural, cultural and business system shift.
So far, the changes that have been introduced are neither game-changing, nor revolutionary, they have been simply upgrades to what would have been regarded as the norm. It’s now time to put in new behavioural, cultural and operating systems that will provide a sturdy foundation to support spectacular customer outcomes that convert customers into raving fans. In short, it’s time to enable a new business order to take shape.
This is the point at which true disruption will begin to occur and where the business will experience successive waves of employee resistance to change. Irregularities are going to be stress tested and employees will begin to discover that their familiar habits and norms are being replaced. Whilst these are not easy pills to be swallowed, if eradication of laxity is the objective, then the business will need to press on with its change agenda.
Let’s say that the business arrives at the new future that it has envisioned for itself and its customers, what then?
Whilst these are not easy pills to be swallowed, if eradication of laxity is the objective, then the business will need to press on with its change agenda.
Well, the new mandate would be getting the changes to stick and for the new order to become permanent. At this point, it should be highly unlikely that the business would have transformed itself, without achieving a quickening of wisdom amongst its key players.
A lesson here would be that as businesses go through their evolutionary patterns, they should become cultures of learning. Sometimes, a business gets really lucky and this is exactly what happens.
At other times, it falls short and unfortunately, has to repeat lessons until they are learnt.