You are at the helm of a business, but there’s a burning question that’s keeping you up at night and that is; “how do I build a reputation for great customer experience in this business?” A big reason for the existence of this question is because you’re shifting the business to a digital platform and automating some workflows, your customers have begun to embrace the technology and your employees are feeling less stressed. Your concern is that you want to keep your customers (and your employees) happy, but don’t know where to start.
Your business sounds like a good qualifier for a “service makeover.” Would you be surprised if I told you that many businesses are in this situation and are looking for a journey map to guide their makeovers? So, are makeovers painful journeys? Yes, a little. Are they challenging? Yes, a bit. Are they worth the effort? Absolutely.
In order to set the state of play for achieving customer happiness, let’s take a close look at three important business adjusting shifts that should always be included in a “service makeover strategy.” Paradigm shifts, employee engagement shifts and leadership excellence shifts.
Paradigm Shifts anchor a business to the principles of urgency, time sensitivity and excellence.
Firstly, the business should adopt a “state of urgency” mentality to free itself from a generalised state of lethargy that prevents many businesses from elevating their service game. Secondly, the business will need to become “time sensitive” where all activities reflect that time matters and with time being treated with respect. Thirdly, “excellence” has to be an anchoring value for the business. If “anyhowness” is tolerated, then there’s an even bigger problem in the business than poor customer experience. These are the three deal breakers that determine whether a business is ready to move to the next level of service workmanship.
Next up would be the use of Employee Engagement Shifts to create a considerate employee community that enables empathy and care during customer interactions. When employee engagement is low and under motivation is high, there is a sharp decline in the ease of transactions, the enthusiasm to execute tasks and the effort to harmonise customer interactions. In other words, the state of internal care affects the quality of external care-giving.
Whilst low energy and low enthusiasm can spell death to great service delivery, early corrective action can reverse the deficit and create positive employee energy. Changes can include correcting attitude gaps through motivational sessions and redirecting energy to the new vision for great service. Skill-set imperfections can be corrected through customer engagement training delivered by hand-picked facilitators.
Some employees are slow to shift or change direction, so would need to attend embracing change sessions that help them to reduce their resistance to change. Often, change brings a disruption to an employee’s equilibrium and so, in these times of transition, leaders should not be tone deaf to the need for employee support.
Typically, the businesses that are led by leaders who understand the power of “collective fluency” tend to be gifted with more highly engaged employee communities. Collective fluency harnesses the power of employee energy by releasing teamness projects and feedback channels that enable the employee voice to be valued.
Now, here we are at one of my favourite inflection points. Leadership Excellence. I continue to be convinced that leadership incapacity is one of the prime suspects on the list of causes of service failure. Leadership incapacity often spawns culture rigidity that is counter-productive to service excellence. Some leaders and leadership teams suffocate their businesses and, by extension extinguish service vitality. The leaders who have made it to the mountaintop, show a remarkable blend of emotional, social and cultural intelligence; are not self-absorbed; embrace conscious capitalism and place humanity at the core of the business.
So, in a makeover situation, the authentic leader will be willing to stake his or her annual bonus to make customer centrism the number one priority of the business. He or she will commit to be on the journey “for as long as it takes to get the business to the landing point of being customer centric.”
A big problem is that leaders commit to a time-frame and not to achieving the goal of service excellence, leading to many businesses stopping short of achieving their goal, because they have reached the allocated cut off time. The result is almost always, slippage back to the “old way” of doing things and a declaration that the transformation didn’t work.
The businesses that stay the course, that are not guilty of failing early and failing fast, that dodge the bullet of self-sabotage, are those whose leaders can be found in the board room, speaking with ease about positive trends in business, service and employee metrics.
Oh and by the way, these are the same leaders who don’t forfeit their annual bonus and who tend to get a fairly good night’s rest.