The voices are all very loud. “We care about our customers…. Our customers matter…. We’re in the business of exceeding our customers’ expectations.” There is no shortage of the chorus of voices extolling the ambitious intentions by many businesses, to deliver on promises of service excellence and customer happiness. A quick enquiry about the attribution list of customer experience successes, however, reveals a picture of shortages. There’s a gap between ambition and action.
I have no doubt in my mind, that businesses want to deliver customer happiness at a superior level. The problem is not even the inability to jumpstart such a journey to the hallowed halls of excellence. The real constraint, I believe, is “effort hesitancy” or the reluctance to subscribe to the level of effort required to achieve an excellence rating. Businesses seem to like “quick fixes,” a penchant that can render them vulnerable to the glorification of the “halo” effect of customer experience.
When businesses glorify the “halo effect,” they become fixated with the end result and fail to focus on the journey to the finish line. We marvel at the businesses that are nailing great service delivery and fixate in wonderment, at their customer success stories, often, with ours being one of the stories. But, when it comes to executing the sweat effort, all kinds of excuses are forthcoming, including the ever popular, “We don’t have the budget to go further.”
Businesses seem to like “quick fixes,” a penchant that can render them vulnerable to the glorification of the “halo” effect of customer experience. When businesses glorify the “halo effect,” they become fixated with the end result and fail to focus on the journey to the finish line.
In the pursuit of service excellence, closing the gap between ambition and action doesn’t mean that a business has to start at ground zero. Closing the gap requires elevating the customer experience practices, by executing what I call “essential actions.”
The first and most critical essential action, is that of recruiting and ensuring that the “right” people are on the business bus. No amount of effort at knocking people into shape, will yield the right results, if the wrong people are on board. We’ve heard the saying, “People are our greatest asset.” A more accurate statement would be, “The right people are our greatest asset.”
Another essential action, is mandating that all employees and not only close-contact employees become customer engagement experts. Half of a workforce that is trained in best customer experience practices, means that roughly half of the total number of customers will be served to perfection.
Closing the gap requires elevating the customer experience practices, by executing what I call “essential actions.”
Shifting from a training to a learning and reinforcement strategy for building employee competency in customer engagement skills, is an essential action. Far too many businesses operate under the misguided belief that if employees are exposed to training, this translates automatically into effective behaviour. Nothing could be further from the truth. A learning strategy, by its very nature, embodies testing devices to ensure that knowledge converts into competence.
When a business discovers (or designs) its zone of genius, this becomes a good start to differentiating itself within its competitive ecosystem. Some businesses differentiate themselves by being exceptional at leveraging technology for customer convenience and ease of doing business, others by serving up a great “can do” attitude by all employees. Yet other businesses are wizards at adding just the right touches that create memorable moments for customers. Remember the group of employees at the restaurant, singing “happy birthday” loudly, for the customer who was celebrating his or her birthday?
Metrics, metrics, metrics. How on earth can a business determine its standing and status as an experience provider, if this experience is not being measured through the lens of the audiences being served? An essential action is investing resources in tracking the cost and the benefit of service delivery on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
The first and most critical essential action, is that of recruiting and ensuring that the “right” people are on the business bus.
As with any self-respecting, modern-day business, cutting over to ecommerce and digitally-enabled operations should be a non-negotiable essential action. These days, even the most micro and small-scale business operation can create payment solutions that are linked to ecommerce and digital platforms. Need I mention that in today’s connected world, when it comes to customer convenience and ease of doing business, size does not matter?
Whilst we’ve been addressing the essentials actions that, when implemented, can begin the process of closing the gap between “the service delivery talk (ambition) and the customer experience walk (action),” there’s a high cost of admission to the process.
The cost? It’s a business possessing the mental obsession and staying power to scale its customer experience to “exceptional, outstanding or legendary” levels within its sector.
Hmmm…..no wonder why so many businesses fail to scale.