In my last two columns I introduced the “7 Customer Needs that Lead to a Winning ‘Me2B’Culture”1 and the “4 Foundations Needed to Deliver Great Me2B Customer Experiences”2. Both are based on the research and interviews into companies that uniformly deliver great customer experiences that my co-author David Jaffe wrote in our latest book Your Customer Rules! Delivering the Me2B Experiences That Today’s Customers Demand (Wiley/Jossey Bass, 2015).
Last month after introducing the 4 Foundations I presented details on the first three, and this time I will describe in depth the 4th Foundation, and Energized Workforce.
The 4th Foundation, Energized Workforce breaks down into six core components: (1) the right hires; (2) the right role models, or mentors; (3) the right rewards; (4) the right metrics; (5) the right paths; and (6) the right empowerment. While these six simple expressions might seem self-explanatory, let me put them into context with examples from some of the Me2B Leaders that we interviewed and researched.
A good example for Energized Workforce overall, and all of these six components, is Yamato Transport. Based in Tokyo with far-flung operations around the world handling packages for business and consumers, Yamato is one of the top scoring Japanese companies for customer satisfaction and customer experience, rivaling well-respected firms like Disney and Amazon. Yamato has a huge ratio of aspiring drivers to open positions, and the company creates an apprenticeship-like program that matches newly hired drivers with experienced ones.
You might think that this is to teach the new folks how to navigate Osaka’s busy streets or Sapporo’s icy hillsides, but that’s only the beginning. Yamato wants to make sure that its culture spanning four integrated “satisfactions”3 can be carried on, and enhanced, with its new employees. To Customer Satisfaction, Societal Satisfaction, and Shareholder Satisfaction Yamato places Employee Satisfaction on equal footing. Defining Employee Satisfaction partly as an “Invigorating and fulfilling workplace”, Yamato celebrates its winning attitude with a “Compliments Bank”: whenever an employee receives a customer compliment s/he receives points that yield a shield that they proudly wear, some employees with multiple stars signifying many happy customers (see again right rewards and right metrics). These experienced drivers become the right role models, and the “apprentices” who obtain their approval are starting on the right path.
There are other excellent examples of companies adhering to this 4th Foundation for Me2B customer experience, Energized Workforce. Take a look at the T-Mobile retail sales reps as they work closely with current or prospective mobile customers, sporting the bright T-Mobile corporate magenta colors in the stores and around town. Or ask your local Starbucks barista to explain the meaning of the words stitched inside of their green or black apron. A few years ago Starbucks added the corporate mission statement “We create inspired in each customer’s day” inside of the aprons, along with the 4 key words meant to remind and empower the busy baristas: Anticipate … Personalize … Connect … Own. These and many other examples support the right empowerment and go a long way to create and sustain an Energized Workforce.
The right role models or mentors may seem obvious, but a little known fact is that we assign customer service reps to different supervisors (or team leaders) during their first year, on average 3-4 changes. Clearly this isn’t a way to build team cohesion or impart best practices from manager to rep. However, the Me2B Leaders schedule their teams over a much longer period of time, paving the way for mentoring and team building to happen naturally. A good example of the right role models or mentors, and Energized Workforce, outside of customer service teams is with the Fluke division of Danaher. Whenever Danaher acquires another instrumentation company and integrates it with Fluke, a core team from Fluke parachutes into the newly acquired firm to impart the highly successful Danaher Business System (DBS) that includes Kaizen principles and many other processes that improve customer experience. It works! Over the years Danaher has continued to show a high stock multiple coupled with very loyal business customers, some of whom volunteer to provide recommendations to improve the Fluke web support site3.
Finally, let’s spend a few minutes with the right paths. Many Me2B Leaders see their customer service staff as ideal candidates for internal transfer and promotion, for example into web development, marketing, or social media roles. In this way they reduce the punishingly high annual “negative” attrition in contact centers by opening doors that will increase motivation levels and provide a path with “positive” attrition. Amazon has been doing this for years, with many of its VPs today having started “on the floor” in the contact centers. What better place to find your future leaders?
More next month on Me2B Leaders and how they are made over time, and how they overcome competitive threats.
1. Here are the 7 Customer Needs that Lead to a Winning “Me2B”Culture:
- You know me, you remember me”
- You give me choices”
- “You make it easy for me”
- “You value me”
- “You trust me”
- “You surprise me with stuff that I can’t imagine”
- “You help me better, you help me do more”
2. These are the 4 Foundations Needed to Deliver Great Me2B Customer Experiences:
- Customer-Oriented Culture
- Streamlined Processes
- Integrated Channels
- Energized Workforce
3. From correspondence with the author during research for Your Customer Rules!
Great post Bill with easily digestible advice and case studies. I love learning from organisations all over the globe – the Yamato Transport example is a new one on me – thank you so much for sharing it!
Hi Bill: From what you wrote, it seems that tacit knowledge is vital for employees to adapt well to their positions. I recognize that there are tradeoffs for this, as many companies are resolute on documenting all necessary knowledge in ‘playbooks,’ and procedure manuals. But I agree that there are many vital things that are not learned from documentation, or are better learned through people.
I wondered if (or where) ‘right environment’ fits into your schema. It seems that being on the right team with the right challenges and the right tools are just as important as the other elements you mentioned.
Andy, good point! I like “right environment” and have always observed the best performance from the physical environment as well as the right challenges and the right tools. In fact, in a recent client workshop I added these three “rights” to the core in this article: the right metrics, the right [career] paths, and the right empowerment. Who knows? This could grow into a set of 10+ “rights”!