Exercise more, eat healthier and… deliver extraordinary service?
It’s that time of year when many of us resolve to do something differently, something better. Is it possible for businesses to just “resolve” their way to delivering better customer experiences? You might be surprised at the answer.
It might sound naïve, but when businesses – or, more precisely, the individuals working within them – make a conscious choice to impress their customers, remarkable things can happen. Yes, business process impediments and technology obstacles might still remain, but when front-line personnel make a personal commitment to exceed customer expectations, it can yield better customer outcomes even while those other organizational limitations persist.
Like any New Year’s resolution, to first make this commitment and then stick to it requires intrinsic motivation. Here are some examples of how organizational leaders can plant the seeds that will help employees make this conscious choice.
Give them a sense of purpose.
Why does your business exist? To make money? To maximize market share? To be the best in its industry? These are not the type of charters that inspire employees (or customers, for that matter) over the long-term.
If your staff feels they are part of a noble crusade, a purpose-driven mission that transcends traditional financial measures, it’s far more likely that they’ll be emotionally invested in the endeavor.
Help them see their role in the big picture.
OK, so you’ve defined and communicated a compelling organizational purpose. Next you’ve got to personalize that message for every function, and potentially even for each role, across the firm.
No matter how noble and inspiring the organizational purpose is, if – for example – the people opening the mail don’t see how their roles fit into the larger purpose, then you’ve gained nothing.
To be motivated, employees (particularly those who don’t directly interact with customers) need to be shown how their role – no matter how junior or senior it is – represents a critical link in the business’ value chain.
Continually reinforce the message with real-life examples.
Lots of companies have town hall meetings or internal newsletters where they highlight how individual employees went above and beyond to exceed customer expectations. These public pats-on-the-back are a very useful management tool, providing much warranted recognition for these employees but also a model of desired, on-brand behavior for all others.
Opportunities abound for front-line sales and service staff to achieve this type of recognition, often making non-front-line support personnel feel isolated and potentially even slighted.
To underscore the critical importance of everybody’s link in the chain, it’s important to cast similar accolades and attention on deserving employees who operate behind the scenes in support functions. You might have to look harder, but there are likely plenty of examples where these individuals’ heroic internalefforts helped create a very positive external customer outcome.
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There’s no doubt that a company’s customer experience is strongly influenced by the quality of its products and the infrastructure surrounding its services. In most industries, though, even if you’ve got great product, superior technology and flawless business processes – it can all be overshadowed in the consumer’s mind by employees who fail to live up to your company’s brand promise.
Start the New Year right, and guard against this pitfall by articulating a persuasive organizational purpose that not only inspires and engages your employees, but also helps them calibrate their personal behavior to your company brand.