I’m a cyclist. Yes, one of those Lycra-clad, Sunday morning riders that invade the countryside in pursuit of speed, coffee and cake. There’s a growing culture around the sport and riding as a group requires leadership, team work, trust and communication, leading to the continuous improvement of fitness levels and enjoyment of the individuals.
I mention this to explain my stance on developing successful customer experience (CX) strategies.
The success of the Great Britain cycling team has been well documented. In a bid to win medals, the head of British cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford, introduced a system that would become known as “the aggregation of marginal gains”. The theory is that there is no single thing that will propel you to success. There’s no magic wand or easy fix solution. It’s about looking for small improvements in everything you do that when aggregated will make a difference.
In cycling terms this means not just fine tuning the most aerodynamic bikes but in considering the minutiae of all the elements of training a cyclist and racing; an athlete’s diet at all stages of their training, their sleep patterns, their recovery periods, their kit, and their metal well-being. Whilst each factor may only improve their speed by a hundredth of a second, the accumulation of many may be enough to win.
Likewise, in business when cultivating a customer-centric focus the same theory might be applied. Rather than thinking you have to turn your business inside out to be successful, look at all the small changes you might make to be a winner and concentrate on the people.
A Winning Company Culture
Your company culture is likely to be the main influence on your CX. Fostering an internal culture that puts people first and considers their well-being will also be reflected in how the team deal with customers. Being customer-centric needs to start at home so look for ways that help influence a positive work environment.
It might be tempting to put everyone on a course and tell them that from now on we are doing things this way. Sadly, it’s not that easy and this is more likely to have a negative impact than influence any sort of positive change. There’s no quick fix if you want to encourage cultural change – it will take time and will need small wins before you experience a difference.
For a start, make sure you ask and understand the issues that your people are facing. Everyone in the organization is a stakeholder and needs to be treated as such. Valuing their contribution and making them feel heard will empower them and let them take responsibly for themselves. Each small gain will be multiplied as the positive impact is felt. Everyone wants to be on the winning team and the momentum will drive the cultural change naturally.
A successful CX strategy needs buy-in across all departments and is at it’s most effective if your sales, marketing and customer service are intertwined. It doesn’t work if these are stand-alone functions, they need to work in unison, creating a cumulative effect from their interactions.
Using Technology for CX
Fortunately, technology is on hand to help streamline communication and facilitate your omni-channel experience. A CRM system is an essential part of the picture and will bring numerous small gains. Creating a CRM strategy that integrates your sales, marketing and customer service will amplify the gains and provide the cement for your new company culture.
Keeping track of your sales and managing your customer relationships is an obvious one. But if your sales team can also see what the marketing guys are up to and how a customer has responded to a campaign, think about how this might influence their next call. And what if they can also see any interactions the customer has had with your support team, instantly able to view records of any issues raised and how they’ve been resolved? This is powerful information that will let you deliver an extraordinary experience to your customers.
Yet, like changing company culture, successfully implementing a CRM takes careful management. Sales people, particularly, don’t like being told what to do so they need to see the benefits to them and it needs to be easy to use.
Using automation and AI in your CRM immediately brings benefits and cuts down the workload. Integrated to your website your new leads are delivered straight to the CRM and automatically sets follow up tasks for your sales people. Automated email campaigns start to engage with your customer and AI lets you track which leads best fit your customer profile. Your touchpoints are frictionless and on-brand, and your communication is personal and timely.
Perception, Expectation and Experience
Successful CX is about making sure the experience meets your customers’ expectations. If the perception of your communicated brand values mirrors your company culture, with a little bit of help from technology, the result should be a positive experience for your customer, and maybe one that even exceeds expectation.
Back to my cycling analogy, working as a group requires leadership, team work, trust and communication, leading to the continuous improvement of the business and the enjoyment of the everyone involved. Looking for small advances that start with the well-being of the team will collectively make the difference that will, in time, have you winning medals.