We need to start thinking more holistically about customer experience

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Within the business community, when it comes to customer experience, much of the talk and focus is dominated by touch-points and journeys and channels.

But, for a growing number of organizations, it’s about much, much more.

Increasingly, it’s not just about how a customer feels when it interacts with an organization but also about how they feel about the way that an organization…

….treats its employees

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, created a lot of news in 2015 when inspired by an academic paper that looked at how much money an American needs to be happy and the financial struggles of a friend, he introduced a $70,000 minimum salary for all of his 120 staff. To fund this, he took a pay cut of $1m, mortgaged his two houses and gave up his stocks and savings.

He intended to remove many, if not all, of the financial worries that a large proportion of his employees faced in the belief that if he did so, they could bring the ‘best version of themselves to work’ free from any financial concerns.

At the time, many commentators pilloried Price for the policy with some accusing him of being a communist. However, six months after the announcement of the initiative, the number of leads coming into the business from 30 to 2,000 per month, they had received 1,000s of new job applicants, profits had doubled, and client retention had grown from its already high base of 91% to 95%. Note: the industry average client retention rate is 68%.

Since then, according to the BBC, their headcount has doubled and the value of payments that the company now processes has grown from $3.8bn to $10.2bn a year.

….who it employs

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, a fast-casual chain of restaurants, has set up the Hope (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) initiative which partners with local institutions and hires people with special needs. It then teaches them how to plant, water, harvest and bag all of the herbs that Taziki’s use in their restaurants. Then, every Taziki restaurant hires at least one of these special needs individuals to work in their store.

CEO Dan Simpson told me that only 35% of people with disabilities are employed. But, he added that “We would be wise to become students of anyone who has special needs because their abilities outshine their disabilities and they bring joy and love into our environment that makes us all better off. And, guests have the same experience.”

….why it provides the products and services it does

Did you know that new clothing, and especially socks, are the most in-demand items at homeless shelters in the United States? Randy Goldberg and David Heath do, and that insight was the inspiration behind their clothing brand, Bombas. The business was set up to help support the homeless community, and they do that but donating one pair of socks for every pair purchased to the homeless community via 3,000 partners in over 50 states. Since the establishment of the business in 2013, they have donated more than 33 million pairs of socks and, in 2018, the company exceeded $100 million in revenue.

….and how it is working to leave the world in a better place than we found it.

The fashion and retail industries have been taking a lot of flack recently about their level of sustainability. In light of this, Nordstrom, the luxury department store chain, has just kicked off a ‘circular fashion’ initiative aimed at tackling part of its fashion sustainability issue. The initiative: See You Tomorrow is a secondhand shop located within its recently opened New York City flagship store.

The shop features a mix of ‘gently’ used pieces of clothing and accessories in excellent condition that have been bought from customers, in exchange for Nordstrom Gift Cards, as well as returned or slightly damaged items from Nordstrom’s Quality Center.

This effort is part of Nordstrom’s push to keep pace with fast-changing consumer preferences and follows in the footsteps of other resale, repair, recycle and up-cycle clothing initiatives from brands like Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and REI.

What is clear from these cases is that there are a large and growing number of inspiring examples of organizations that are thinking differently and more holistically about the experience of their customers, employees, communities and society at large.

They are stepping up and meeting the challenges that lie in front of us. In doing so, they are also setting the standard. The question is how long will it be before we see many others following in their footsteps?

Not long, I hope.

This post was originally published on Forbes.com.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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