Transforming the Customer Experience

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Episode 007 – CX Depends on Hiring Right

Hiring Right – Episode Number 007 Shownotes…

So much of this work is dependent on hiring the right people to execute the desired customer experience. If you have people that aren’t concerned about customer service and making the customer happy enough with their experience doing business with you, then you have a little additional work to do.

As you have found, since you are in the C-Suite or on the leadership team of your company, you know how important it is to have the right people in the key roles of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are a large company or very small business, if you have the wrong people in place to run your business, things will malfunction.

If you can’t rally the troops, you have the wrong troops. You can’t be making decisions that you don’t feel confident your teams will be executed well.

You need to hire the right people. Front facing, behind the scenes, everyone.

If they don’t work face to face with a customer, they are working to support someone who does.All of these dots need to be connected.

You have got to be decisive and strategic about who and how you hire. This is key.

How well do they feel welcomed into your company? Do they feel like you’ve planned to have them there? Do they feel like folks are ready to welcome them in, show the basics of the layout, introduce them to other staff? Do they feel valued as a person and for the work they have been hired to do? Do they feel engaged? Are they listened to? Do they feel they serve a purpose in a bigger picture of company success?

When you have the right people in place, knowing what their responsibilities are in the customer experience and how they individually impact the outcome, are dedicated to doing their best, they put in the time and effort, the benefits are seen by the customer the company earns their loyalty.

On a side note… if you are looking for a good book on leadership and teamwork, there is a book called Boys in the Boat and it’s about the 1936 American Olympic crew team. It’s seriously a fabulous true story about a few of the boys on the team and their struggles individually and as a team on how they actually made it to and won the 1936 Olympics in Germany. I was literally holding my breath in the last part of the book. But there are many lessons on leadership and the importance of timing of skills and knowledge that are relevant in business today.

It’s also important to remember that when we consider employee churn we need to remember that it is becoming more widely recognized that employees don’t leave their jobs, they typically leave their managers. Think about it… their next job is likely to be very similar to the job they had with you. So why did they leave? Studies suggest that it’s because they weren’t getting what they needed from their managers and leaders. So, they move on.

Hiring the right people and providing everything they need to succeed in training and value when you do this, you are completely on the right track to delivering a customer experience the right market will want to repeat over and over again with you.

For now, understand that when you focus on getting the right people in place, it will start to systematize the consistency of your customer experience. Knowing that you can count on the people you have in place to help navigate through the initial set up stages of the customer experience work will make it much more likely to succeed. I want you to feel that when you have a solid plan from which to work, you’ll have the right people in place that if it has any chance of succeeding, it was worth it. If the plan doesn’t work, you’ll have the solid confidence of knowing it was the plan, not the people, that wasn’t right.

Action steps –

Identify the characteristics and type of people that make good employees.

Look at your current employees that you would be truly heartbroken if they were to leave. Ask yourselves, what is it about them and the way they add value to your business, their positions, and the customer experience that makes them stand out?

During the hiring and interview process, you also need to be sure you hire to fit your culture and those that also hold true to your core values, understand them and embrace them.

In Customer Experience – It’s the Customer’s Perspective that Counts, Not Yours

Customer Perspective is really the only thing that matters in Customer Experience (CX) work. I know this seems a bit extreme… please bear with me.

I know that you are doing what you think is best for your business and your customer. I know that most of you are looking to create solid experiences for your customers that will bring them back to you time and time again.

But what if your customers don’t think the same way you do? What if you think the billing process you currently have is fine, but it’s driving your customers nuts? What if they think your invoicing or billing practices are inconvenient or confusing?

What if you’ve invested in a state of the art contact call center, but your customers can’t stand it?

That’s the rub. Many companies feel what they have in place is just fine. And, in all likelihood, it probably does the job. But just consider this… your customers aren’t comparing you to your competitors. They are comparing you to wherever it is that they do business where they feel important, valued, and listened to. They unconsciously compare you to any company that makes things easier on them than you do… Amazon perhaps? So if they make a suggestion to you, or even complain, about your billing practices and you don’t at least seriously consider it, you have a problem on your hands.

Because who drives your business? Yes, you are leadership… but your customers are giving you their money that helps you stay in business. If they leave, you won’t have a business to run. You should consider putting the customer perspective in the driver’s seat, at the head of the table, in the position to help guide your business and operating decisions.

Now I’m not suggesting that you will go out of business simply because your invoicing is confusing, but if you aren’t taking suggestions or feedback in one area of your business seriously, I would venture to guess you likely aren’t taking it seriously in other areas as well. Just be aware that it is a psychological pattern that how you do “something” is highly indicative of how you do “everything”… both in our personal and professional lives.

Customer-driven companies… it’s an OUTside IN approach… meaning you find out what is important to your customers, find out what they prefer, and make things happen as much as possible as you can according to their preferences. If you do this well, I promise you, they will stay loyal to you.

You are basically telling them… “Hey, we value you. Thanks for your business. Let us know what you like and we’ll try to do it.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a customer that wouldn’t feel important to your business with that approach.

Because every single human alive has their own opinion and perspective. And everyone’s perspective and belief is their reality. Our perspective is what drives our beliefs, decisions, and actions.

So in business, the customer’s perspective is their reality. If they believe that your billing practices are confusing, then pay attention to that. Because if you want to keep them as your customer, you need to address it.

When the customer perspective serves as a guiding light to your operations… it’s a beautiful thing.

To listen to the podcast covering this topic… click here.

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Episode 005 – CX From the Customer Perspective

Shownotes

  • Customer Perspective is really the only thing that matters in any Customer Experience work.
  • I know that you are doing what you think is best for your business and your customer. I know that most of you, simply because you are listening to this podcast, are looking to create solid experiences for your customers that will bring them back to you time and time again.
  • But what if your customers don’t think the same way you do? What if you think the billing process you currently have is fine, but it’s driving your customers nuts? What if they think your invoicing or billing practices are inconvenient or confusing?
  • That’s the rub. Many companies feel what they have in place is just fine. And, in all likelihood, it probably does the job. But just consider this… your customers aren’t comparing you to your competitors. They are comparing you to wherever it is that they do business where they feel important, valued, and listened to. So if they make a suggestion to you, or even complain, about your billing practices and you don’t at least seriously consider it, you have a problem on your hands.
  • Because who drives your business? Yes, you are leadership… but your customers are giving you their money that helps you stay in business. If they leave, you won’t have a business to run.
  • Now I’m not suggesting that you will go out of business simply because your invoicing is confusing, but if you aren’t taking suggestions or feedback in one area of your business seriously, you likely aren’t taking it seriously in other areas as well.
  • Remember back in episode 1 we covered what CX is… I spent some time talking about how it is customer driven… it’s an OUTside IN approach… meaning you find out what is important to your customers, you find out what they prefer, and you make things happen as much as possible as you can according to their preferences, I promise you, they will stay loyal to you.
  • You are basically telling them… hey, we value you… thanks for your business… Let us know what you like and we’ll try to do it.
  • Because every single human alive has their own opinion and perspective. And everyone’s perspective and belief is their reality. Remember I warned you there’d be a lot of psychology lessons along the way here. Our perspective is what drives our beliefs, decisions, and actions.
  • So in business, the customer’s perspective is their reality. If they believe that your billing practices are confusing, then pay attention to that. Because if you want to keep them as your customer, you need to address it.
  • Now, there is a possibility you don’t need to change a single thing. Maybe what you have is a very clear and logical billing system, but it’s confusing to your customers because they don’t understand it.
  • That’s why you need to ask your customers for their perspective along the way.

Episode 004 – It’s All About the Money

Episode 4 – It’s All About the Money

Shownotes:

  • Money and profits – not bad words
  • CX is now recognized as the tipping point
    • in 2014, 89% of companies planned to use CX as their primary competition platform by 2016. It’s 2018 now… that means that 89% of companies are aware of CX, what it is, and are trying to use it as the tipping point to gain customers. If you are new to this concept… you are in the right place, and not a moment too soon.
    • in 2014, $3.7 Billion dollars were spent on CX programs. In 2019, it’s expected to nearly triple to $8.3 according to Markets and Markets 2015 report.
    • Back in 2015, customer relationships were ranked =THIRD of top challenges for CEOs, stated by AMA in 2016.
    • 80% of businesses believe they provide “superior” customer service. But only 8% of their customers would describe the service they’ve received in such glowing terms. When customers aren’t happy, there’s often significant damage done. In fact, U.S. businesses collectively lose an estimated $83 billion a year due to shoddy customer service. This comes from The Customer Experience Index released by Forrester in 2012.
    • So knowing all of that, how have things changed? Not much, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Temkin Group, American Marketing Association and MaritzCX, most companies still struggle with making any real improvements.
    • Why? In the research I do and the work I do with clients, my observations are there are high expectations with no real plan or accountability.
    • You can’t wish for results. You have to DECIDE. You have to DECIDE if you are only Interested or truly Committed. So if there hasn’t been much improvement in the past 5-10 years, why is everyone all up in arms about it? Because the key is that MOST companies haven’t noticed a difference. SOME truly have and that is where the magic happens.
    • Once you commit and quitting and failure are not options, you almost have no choice but to see improvements.
    • Lifetime Value of a customer is the first important number you should know. If you don’t, it’s fairly simple to calculate
  • For our purposes here… this is extremely simplistic and should not be used as any final number for accounting purposes, but its a good place to start.
  • Start with your sales in the last 12 months or fiscal year. Divide that number by the total number of customers, not repeat sales, but the number of unique customers of your company, and that is your average spend.
  • Remember, we are not going to complicate this yet and break things down by tiers or levels of spending, right now we want the average spend per year.
  • Now… how many years is it reasonable to hope or expect that a happy customer would likely do business with you?
  • That is the extremely simplistic calculation of your average lifetime customer value.
  • Two examples… If you run a grocery store, you make think that a customer is worth about $100 to you as you see them walk through the front door. But people need to eat, and they need to eat daily, that means they’ll need more food. So, to keep it simple, let’s assume they come back every week and spend another $100 in your store. Over a year, they spend about $5,000 in your store. That’s not something to just throw away, but you also wouldn’t have to close up shop if that person moved out of town. 
  • Let’s assume they stay in your neighborhood for 20 years… do the math… $5,000 times 20 years becomes $100,000 spent in your store. I don’t know of any company that wouldn’t be concerned about losing $100,000 if the customer felt that another grocery store a few blocks away had better parking, better lighting, longer hours, kept the floors clean, always had the most popular food items in stock, and made sure that all of the carts had wheels that rolled the same direction.
  • Did you notice something about those small items I just mentioned? Not one of those had anything to do with customer service! We didn’t talk about friendly staff, people who would walk you to the product you needed rather than just wave in a general direction or suggest an aisle number. That’s because as we talked about in episode number 1, the CX is EVERYTHING, not just customer service skills.
  • Now, for a contract example… one of my clients is in a contract business model. Their average customer spends $12,000 annually with them for a contract term of 5 years. That’s $60,000 per contract. They have typically experienced an average of 3 contract renewals per customer, so that brings the lifetime value of each customer to $180,000. Now, they have some that are worth many times that amount, and some that are worth significantly less.
  • Don’t consider your customers as mere dollars walking through your doors. THEY ARE PEOPLE. As Marilyn Suttle states, “People do business with people, not with companies.”
  • So CX considers everything about your business from the customer perspective as people. what are their irritations? If the irritations persist, they’ll leave. you might not think that a gas station that can’t seem to understand that they need fluid in the bins that the windshield squeegee are left in need to be filled would be that big of a deal or that customers would leave over that. But they do. I’m married to one of them. It annoys him to the extent that he will drive a few blocks out of the way and maybe spend just a bit more to have the squeegee be wet enough to do the job it was designed to do. And he’s not an uptight guy, really! But that is a very simple example of something in the experience impacting the buying decision of the customer.
  • And that brings me to my next point… Now that you hopefully have a general idea of what your average lifetime value of your customers is, now we can see what it will do to your bottom line if you focus, or don’t care about, the CX.
  • transactional businesses are focused on return frequency and spend per visit.
  • Contract, or subscription, businesses are concerned about retention, cross-sell and up-sell.
  • Medallia found that in transaction-based businesses, the customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
  • They also found that contract based customers, they used a gym as an example, who had poor experiences only had a 43% chance of renewing their contract a year later. Conversely, gym goers who rated their experience one of the top two options had a 74% likelihood of renewing.
  • So use the numbers in these studies and consider your average lifetime value of your customers and see the impact that makes.
  • It’s also important to share this Lifetime Value with every single one of your staff. It’s important that they understand that how they work with, engage with and serve your customers has to be good enough and deserving to earn that amount from your customer. When I deliver presentations and state it like that, I can tell it makes a difference with people. You’ve got to be good enough, actually MORE than good enough to earn that money from your customers. Because if you aren’t and you irritate someone on the wrong day, or a minor irritation festers, your customers will leave.
  • The reasoning that some companies state for not focusing on or investing in CX is that it costs too much money. However, executives in companies that are seeing CX  improvements state the opposite. They claim delivering great experiences actually costs them less to serve customers well than before the focus began. Example, when a customer is unhappy or upset, they are more likely to require much more support and/or return the product. Sooo…. the natural thing to do would be to fix the true issue and since returns would now be down, you are reducing the cost it costs you to take care of your customers… less product to toss or return to the supplier and NO staff time in resolving the issue in the first place.
  • Now we’ve all heard stories of staff going above and beyond to delight customers. That is part of the argument for CX focus costing too much money… but let’s be realistic, that’s not realistic to expect to deliver day in and day out.
  • As Shep Hyken says… Amazing CX doesn’t have to be over the top… it just has to be better than average… consistently.
  • Basically, customers are literally VERY SATISFIED when they get what they expected and feel they were treated fairly. If you can be nice and human on top of that, you have a customer for life.
  • Another thing to consider, John Goodman states that price sensitivity doubles when a customer experiences problems and doubles again when those problems happen again or multiply. That’s why companies that provide consistently positive customer experiences can maintain higher margins. Any of you familiar with Nordstrom, Apple, or the Ritz Carlton brands?
  • So that brings us to the companies that HAVE seen improvements.
  • And one thing I want to make clear, this is not about improving survey scores or rankings. Those can be easily swayed and influences and often have other consequential negative effects. We are truly talking about the entire experience, by focusing on what is important to your customers.
  • Now, of the 28% of companies surveyed by MaritzCX who consistently apply CX practices, 66% of those report successful impacts in their businesses.
  • Companies that have proactive identification of customer needs have double the business success than those companies doing merely basic customer recovery.
  • And while only 1 in 5 companies report optimizing employee rewards based on CX performance, 69% state that their CX efforts are driving business outcomes.
  • Bottom Line… Be so good at the CX that your prices become irrelevant.

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Episode 003 – Integrating Your Core Values Into the Customer Experience

Shownotes…

Core Values Build the Company Culture into the Customer Experience

  • Core values serve as the guiding light for how everyone in your company interacts, communicates and works with each other, external customers, and the community.
  • Core values should be unique to your company.
  • Core values provide the framework to help guide many business decisions.
  • Use phrases or sentences as core values to convey the meaning.
  • Core values MUST be exemplified at the leadership level.
  • Core values should be evident in practice.
  • Core values help with recruiting and hiring decisions.
  • Core values should serve as foundation and guidance, not limitations.
  • Core values should be a focus during all performance reviews.
  • Core values should be reviewed with relevant stories regularly.
  • Display the Core Values throughout the Customer Experience.
  • Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

Episode 002 – The Impact of Your Corporate Culture on the Customer Experience

Shownotes

In this episode, we talk about the CULTURE of your company and how it impacts and drives the CX.

The Culture definition describes the environment created to achieve that mission and vision. 

This will be something that your staff will FEEL… not have to be shown a mission statement. 

Understand that your staff will have to FEEL, EXPERIENCE, and BELIEVE this culture for them to accurately execute the desired experience to your customers.

  • culture definition. The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another.

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid (The Business Dictionary).

Needle (2004), stated that organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Deal and Kennedy succinctly define organizational culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000)

Every company has a culture whether purposely defined or not. The key is to be in the driver’s seat of defining your culture and being deliberate about shaping it before you are trying to reign in an undesirable culture that has taken hold.

Should you find yourself in the latter position… take heart, all is not lost. It is very doable, provided you make the commitment and persevere through the process.

When beginning the discussion of defining the DESIRED culture of your organization, this is the time to consider….

What would you like it look like to work IN your company and WITH your company? How is the engagement between leaders and staff, staff and customers?

What would you like the environment to be like? Relaxed and casual, or professional and formal? Is it an open working environment or one that uses high walled cubicles?

How would you welcome people in – both as staff and clients? Your culture will be apparent the moment you greet your first candidate or client. The friendliness factor, the thoroughness and follow up displayed exemplifies the culture of your company. Are you a company to be taken seriously, or are you one that looks great on paper, but in practice…. falls short?

Is there clarity around the purpose of your company and product or service? There will be a measurable impact on the success of your company when staff truly believes that what they do matters to the success of the company and the overall customer experience.

How much autonomy will you give your staff? Will they be trained and empowered to fulfill their responsibilities within the organization and with clients? Will they be afraid to take risks in making decisions based on the culture you are setting?

Do you desire a more formal and rigid top-down management style or do you want to empower people to act with the entrepreneurial spirit? Questions such as these will feed into the amount of risk your staff is willing to take in making decisions or working to solve issues for your customers and clients.

Take action in defining, redefining, or refining your culture by having purposeful conversations with key leaders around the desired culture of your company. As your discussions progress, the process will benefit by giving staff the opportunity to provide input. Staff will have different perspectives and ideas to be considered when crafting the ultimate outcome.

I stress that Leadership should ultimately have the most input on the desired culture definition. Leaders are guiding the direction of the company and if they are true leaders, they should have the insight and understanding of the best course to travel.

Key Things to Consider…

Setting the culture begins at the top. Regardless of the size of your company, the leaders set the tone and example in the congruency of their attitudes, actions, words, and considerations when working with customers, selecting products, and engaging with staff. Staff will follow the example set by leadership, both good and bad.

Hire people based on competencies AND culture fit. I can’t stress this one enough. My experience shows that 90% of all customer experience and culture work is accomplished simply by hiring the right people that will support and sustain your desired culture. Should you have staff that work against it, or at the very least – don’t support it, this work can be extremely frustrating and ultimately futile. Even just a few people with the wrong attitudes can throw the entire program off course.

Example…You have two people you are considering for the same position. One is competent, yet lacks the years of experience the other does. Yet, the first one actively engaged during the interview when you discussed the culture of your company. You formed the impression they would be very helpful in sustaining the culture you are working hard to execute for staff and clients. The candidate with years of experience didn’t openly say they didn’t like the described culture, but they asked a few times if they could bring in ways of doing things that had worked for them in their past job and if they could work as they needed to on their own as long as the desired outcome was achieved.

Guess which one will be successful in your company? The first candidate. Provided they have the necessary credentials and training, you can train skills and competencies specific to your company. You just can’t train attitudes easily at all. The wrong attitude can dramatically derail your culture work.

Open communication promotes success. Companies with free and open communication are far more successful in establishing an engaging and successful culture. When staff feels free to ask questions and discuss core issues with leadership, they’ll be much more engaged and the culture is strengthened, thus the company “team” is united in working in the best interest of the customer and the company reaps the reward of their continued loyalty.

Consequences of not focusing on Culture?

You can be successful in spite of yourselves, but that is not the norm. Not taking the time to actively shape the culture is indicative of a “non-directional” culture prone to reactionary decisions, inconsistencies in customer experiences, and intermittent “lucky” successes.

Possible Indications of Needing Culture Work…

  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Lackluster performance and attitude by employees
  • Disengaged staff
  • Minimum expectations delivered by staff
  • Low attendance at company events
  • Employee -vs- Leadership mindset
  • Declining customer loyalty and satisfaction ratings

Prioritizing the definition and execution of your ideal Culture will certainly pay off in many ways…

  • Morale will increase
  • Staff will willingly engage outside of their own responsibilities and do more than the minimum expectations
  • Everyone will understand and embrace the purpose of the company and actively work to support and promote it
  • Staff will feel empowered and engaged resulting in more thoughtful decisions to benefit both the company and the customers
  • Customers will benefit by doing business with a company where they feel they are part of an organization actively working to help them succeed in their responsibilities and goals
  • The Customer Experience will increase customer loyalty and generate referrals
  • Increased referrals and loyalty promote higher sales, resulting in higher profits, resulting in the successful longevity of the company.

A strong cohesive culture is a beautiful thing…

Organize and operate on your brand – cultivate your cultural priorities – design your organization to cultivate the way your company works together?

How can you reinforce the culture of your company? what does each of those values look like overall in each dept?

Creating culture changing employee experiences. – Look at entire journey – first as potential recruit… through to when they retire. How can you change it so staff experiences the culture you are going after.

Your action step – 

Have the discussion about what your ideal culture looks like. What does it look like? What does it feel like to be in your organization? What does it feel like to be an employee? Is it a relaxed, formal, or business casual atmosphere? Does leadership isolate themselves in closed-door offices, or are they typically working WITH staff out in the open? Is it open communication as in open door or are there distinct channels of communication? Does it feel super structured or loose? Is it fun and engaging?

Is it dictatorial? Is it a democracy? Is it quiet? Is it open spaces or high cubicles giving each staff member privacy?

There is NO right answer. Your culture needs to be true to your leadership team considering the reason why you are in business and the preferred style of your desired customers. Your culture will attract and DEtract for you to a large extent.

Your culture should also be one that fosters the success of your team in alignment with your goals of who you are, what you stand for, and how you enhance the world of your customer.

Something to consider as you are having this conversation is does your culture naturally foster the ideal customer experience you wish to deliver? They are interdependent.

You won’t be able to have a rigid, super structured and siloed, quiet and reserved environment if the experience you want your customers to have includes relaxed conversations, friendly interactions and impressions of your staff, open communication with help and instructions are given freely and immediately.

Sit down as a leadership team and have the discussion. Ask yourselves the following questions…

  1. What seven words or phrases describe the culture you want to have in our company?
  2. How do we as a company want to be known to our customers and staff?

Have everyone list those on their own and distribute.

Discuss, include and eliminate the words and phrases as a cohesive group. Debate, explain, justify, whatever it takes, but everyone must agree on the culture. There can be a degree of prioritizing if desired.

Limit the list of descriptions to 15 if possible. THESE ARE NOT CORE VALUES. This is describing the environment and what it looks like and feels like to be there. Go back to the mindset of describing Disney if that helps. 

You are now forming the structure of the IDEAL culture. You may not be there right now… but because you’ve had the discussion and agreed on it… every decision made from this point on should be considered from this perspective AS IF IT ALREADY IS. That will help your trajectory immensely.

Next – Have the discussion to determine the components necessary to support that culture. these are your core values. 

If you want to have a fun culture, you’ll need to have a degree of casualness built in.

Episode 001 – Exactly What the Customer Experience IS and Isn’t

Show Notes…

Exactly What the Customer Experience IS and Isn’t

What CEX IS NOT –

Transactional 

Inside out – Leaders deciding making all operational and business decisions based on their own and silo focused priorities.

Short-term – A clear start and end date within six months of each other.

“Flavor of the Month” – Somebody in Leadership has a great idea that we’ll focus on for about a month until it loses steam and then we start another project

Customer Service / Front Line staff skills only – Only customer-facing staff have to concern themselves with CEX because Leadership doesn’t need to be involved.

Reactive – Someone calls or sends an email and we send a response or take care of their problem.

What CEX actually IS –

PROACTIVE – It’s thinking ahead and solving a problem, or potential problem, the customer doesn’t even realize they have yet.

Outside In approach. – Considering the Customer Perspective and Impact FIRST. Using customer feedback and suggestions to help drive most business and

operational decisions.  It’s when you design your business, and the processes and functions focused on the customer

The way your company works with customers over time, not just once. It’s the way customers come to expect to be engaged with each and every time because you

are consistent and deliberate in all interactions.

Relationship Building /  Partnering –

To give the Customer Experience contextual relevance… it’s very similar to personal relationship stages…. We date, we get engaged, we get married and have a

honeymoon period… and then real life sets in. At some point, some couples decide to go their seperate ways. At some point, customers decided to stay or go.

An emotional connection that customers are buying – Not just your product or service.

The EASE of doing business metric – how EASY do you make it to work with your company?

The RELIEF factor – Yes, we want to delight our customers, but that opportunity is rarely available. It’s always an option to make your customers relieved they are

working with you and your company because you take the issue off of their plate or you walk them through the process. You make it easy.

The PERCEPTION of the customer about the experience is always right. Bottom line, what the customer thinks is what matters most.

The reason your customers continue to buy and do business with you. The way you engage and work with them before, during, and after the sale is the entire

experience. Do it right, and your customer will never think of leaving you.

The guidance system for making business and operational decisions

The way to increase sales and build your loyal customer base

  • – When consumers have a GOOD experience, they are 3 1/2 times more likely to make additional purchases than if they have a poor experience.
  • Continued focus on the customer experience will dramatically benefit your finanacial success.

        – – The Tempkin Group states 73% of companies with a better than average CX MATURITY have better financial success than their competitors

The Harvard Business Review stated among thousands of customers studied, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.

According to Right Now Technologies, 89% of consumers began purchasing from a competitor following a poor experience.

Good CEX also lowers your customer acquisition costs substantially. According to American Express, 1 happy customer = 9 referals.

Word of mouth counts more than advertising.

How well you know who you are as a company and how you work to make your customers successful in their company and responsibilities

It’s the natural understanding that your company is helping your customers succeed in helping THEIR customers.

Episode 000 – About The Customer Experience Podcast for Business Leaders

Show notes –

This short episode shares what this Podcast is all about.

Who is this Podcast for? The C-Suite, Directors, and Leadership Teams of any organization will directly benefit from the tips and strategies shared in this Podcast.

What Will You Get Out of It? The entire concept of the Customer Experience (CEX) will be demystified and mapped out in these episodes. The goal is to simplify what is often perceived as over complicated and too cumbersome to take on.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your CEX journey, this podcast will help you. If you are new to the entire thing and have heard that it is the “new thing” that seems to be making difference or know that your competition is talking about it, this is the place for you.

If you have already begun a CEX transformation within your company, this podcast will enhance and paint a more colorful picture to what you have in place.

Podcast Format – This will mainly be a Topic-Based Podcast discussing the important elements of any successful Customer Experience initiative. The core fundamentals, current topics or relevant events addressed in media will also be covered to enrich your knowledge base. Occasionally, authors of books that I find impactful or industry leaders will be interviewed to share their insight in relation to the concerns and priorities of this podcast audience.

Podcast Schedule –  The first three episodes were all released on the same day, with five more to follow in the next five days. After the initial launch, you can expect to find a new episode waiting for you every Tuesday morning at 3:00 am EST.

Please email me your questions about the Customer Experience!  In order to make this podcast relevant and beneficial for you, I need to know what you are struggling with in your CEX journey. What are the challenges you face? What is preventing you from moving forward? What are the objections or hesitations of your staff, customers, and leaders in this work?

Remember, if you have a question, chances are, others do as well. Send me your questions and challenges (all names will be changed to provide anonymity) so I can address them in upcoming episodes.

Send your questions to Kristina@KristinaEvey.com and I will personally respond to you.

Thank you for listening and I hope you’ll come to consider me a trusted resource in your CEX transformation journey!

Why Core Values Need to Be in Your Customer Experience Focus

 

Core Values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.

My podcast related to core values can be heard here…

Core Values serve as the guiding light for how everyone in your company interacts, communicates and works with each other, external customers, and the community. The core values are the solid foundational building blocks on which your culture is built. They are your company’s principles, beliefs, or philosophy of values.

Core Values provide the framework to help guide many business decisions. When weighing options – refer to the Core Values and the answer should become clear.

Core Values should be unique to your company. Just as your culture should only be able to describe your company alone, the Core Values follow the same idea. Consider examples of Core Values of the big names in business or your niche, but don’t copy them. Don’t try to be them. Try to be as impactful and distinct as they are… in your own way. Otherwise, customers won’t be able to state what is memorable about you and the way you work with them.

Avoid Truth, Integrity, Honesty, and Ethics as stated Core Values. Yes, I went there. My explanation… only because I feel these are inherent in any honestly run business. These will also likely be included in virtually every other company’s core values as well. Get to the Core Values that really mean something in a truly non-generic way. Your company Core Values shouldn’t be able to describe any company other than your own. So don’t include the ones that come standard with every other “Core Values Workshop” mindset. Let’s assume those as a given. If they can’t be assumed, then you’ve got bigger issues than defining other Core Values.

Use phrases or sentences as Core Values to convey the meaning. A word to summarize the intent is great – but extend it with a sentence to demonstrate the meaning within your organization in a specific way. Example – Fun: We work hard, and we play hard. Fun should be included during the work day as well as our outside team activities.

Core Values MUST be exemplified at the leadership level. As with culture, leadership must model Core Values in their actions, behaviors, thoughts, and communications for them to be believed understood and embraced by staff. Should this not be the case, you’ll be lumped into the same category as the notorious, now defunct, Enron. As little as 18 months before their demise, Enron had crafted a Core Values list that was clearly only worth its weight on paper. Had they truly personified those core values, they might still be around today.

Core Values need to be evident in practice – not just written on a document because they sound good. After a visitor spends a day within your company, they should be able to look at your Core Values statement and they are evident by how the company and staff operate as a whole and were apparent and displayed in their own personal experience.

Core Values help in recruiting and hiring decisions. While I’m a huge advocate of diverse thinking and perspectives, the Core Values of staff personalities and characteristics should hold true to the company Core Values. These Core Values, along with your defined ideal culture, should be openly shared and discussed during the interview process. Pay particular attention to how they engage in this part of the interview. Share examples of how Core Values are internally and with external customers. Prompt discussions with candidates on how they might envision the Values being exemplified in the prospective – or past – roles. Their stories will display an accurate understanding of the Core Values and their creativity in displaying them to customers.

Core Values should serve as foundation and guidance, not limitations, for the folks you believe in and invest in to best represent your company and work with your customers. Similar to using the core values to guide business decisions, staff will use them in making daily decisions in their responsibilities. When deciding upon a course of action, if there is a Core Value to support one method vs another, the answer becomes clear. The Values, as a whole, should not be limiting in nature, but provide clarity and direction.

Core Values guide performance reviews. How well your staff lives by and exemplifies the core values of your company should be coached and rewarded. Let’s say you have “Taking Creative Risks” as one of your Core Values. If you have someone who does their job very well, gets along well with others, and customers rave about them personally… yet they take few – if any – risks, they should be coached in this area. First – be certain they really understand what taking creative risks means within your company. Share a few examples of creative risks that you yourself have taken or – concealing the identity – the risks that coworkers have taken. Since risks are never guaranteed as a positive outcome, be sure to share some that did and did not turn out as planned, but keep the way the risk was created and ventured for the benefit of the company or the customer as the main focus.

Core Values are ingrained by frequent and regular discussion and relevant stories. I’m a huge fan of daily and/or weekly team huddles. Have staff share stories about how a Core Value contributed a decision or action for a coworker or customer. Stories are how people relate, internalize, and learn information and concepts. Hearing examples from those around them, staff will start to build on those or take key components and create their own way of modeling those Values.

Embed the Core Values throughout the Customer Journey and Experience. When mapping out your Customer Experience, be sure the Core Values are consistent and evident in every phase and impact point. Pick key moments of influence in the customer journey and consider how the Values can be seen and felt by the customer in each. Have the Core Values in your marketing material, on your website, in the lunch room, conference rooms, walls, feature an “Employee of the Month” who models the Core Values in a newsletter, etc. Talk about them, discuss them, challenge them, find ways to integrate them into conversations.

By intentionally identifying, setting, and modeling Core Values, the more they will become the DNA of your company, distinguish you from your competitors, and make you memorable in the minds of your customers.

It’s a beautiful thing…

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Culture’s Impact on Customer Experience

Culture's Impact on Customer ExperienceDefinition of Culture – The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. 

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. (The Business Dictionary).

Needle (2004), stated that organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs, and principles of organizational members. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Deal and Kennedy succinctly define organizational culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000)

Every company has a culture whether you’ve defined it or not. The key is to be in the driver’s seat of defining your culture and being deliberate about shaping it before you are trying to reign in an undesirable culture that has taken hold.

If you find yourself in the latter position… take heart, all is not lost. It is very doable, provided you make the commitment and persevere through the process.  

When you begin the discussion of defining the DESIRED culture of your organization, this is the time to consider….

What does it look like to work IN your company and WITH your company? How is the engagement between leaders and staff, staff and customers?

What is the environment like? Relaxed and casual, or professional and formal? Is it an open working environment or one that uses high walled cubicles?

How do you welcome people in – both as staff and clients? Your culture will be apparent the moment you greet your first candidate or client. The friendliness factor, the thoroughness and follow up displayed exemplifies the culture of your company. Are you a company to be taken seriously, or are you one that looks great on paper, but in practice…. falls short?

Is there clarity around the purpose of your company and product or service? There will be a measurable impact on the success of your company when staff truly believes that what they do matters to the success of the company and the overall customer experience.

How much autonomy will you give your staff? Will they be trained and empowered to fulfill their responsibilities within the organization and with clients?

Do you want a more formal and rigid top-down management style or do you want to empower people to act with the entrepreneurial spirit? Questions such as these will feed into the amount of risk your staff is willing to take in making decisions or working to solve issues for your customers and clients.

Take action in defining – or redefining – your culture by having purposeful conversations with key leaders around the desired culture of your company. As your discussions progress, the process will benefit by giving staff the opportunity to provide input. Staff will have different perspectives and ideas to be considered when crafting the ultimate outcome.

I stress that Leadership should have the most input on the desired culture definition. Leaders are guiding the direction of the company and if they are true leaders, they should have the insight and understanding on the best course to travel.

Make sure your culture is Unique! Even though you may have several competitors in the same space or industry, your culture as a company within that space needs to feel unique. Books are written about Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, Disney, Apple for a reason. They are successful companies with strong cultures. But don’t try to copy them or be like them. I tell my clients to try to be as impactful as them. All of those companies have competition in their space… yet they are unique.

I have my clients show me a marketing brochure. If I can remove my client’s company name and insert the competitions, yet all of the information is still accurate… then there is a problem. It all blends in. What makes you stand out? What makes you different? Your culture will help shape these answers. If you can’t think of anything… start figuring out what customers want that they can’t easily find as far as working style. That will help shape your culture and vice-versa.

Key components in setting a successful organizational culture…

Setting the culture begins at the top. Regardless of the size of your company, the leaders set the tone and example in the congruency of their attitudes, actions, words, and considerations when working with customers, selecting products, and engaging with staff.

Hire people based on competencies AND culture fit. I can’t stress this one enough. My experience shows that 90% of all customer experience and culture work is accomplished simply by hiring the right people that will support and sustain your desired culture. Should you have staff that work against it, or at the very least – don’t support it, this work can be extremely frustrating and ultimately futile. Even just a few people with the wrong attitudes can throw the entire program off course.

You have two people you are considering for the same position. One is competent, yet lacks the years of experience the other does. Yet, the first one actively engaged in the interview when you discussed the culture of your company. You gleaned the impression that they would be very helpful in sustaining the culture you are working hard to execute for staff and clients. The candidate with years of experience didn’t openly say they didn’t like the described culture, but they asked a few times if they could bring in ways of doing things that had worked for them in their past job, if they could work as they needed to on their own as long as the desired outcome was achieved.

Guess which one will be successful in your company? The first candidate. Provided they have the necessary credentials and training, you can train skills and competencies specific to your company. You just can’t train attitudes easily at all. The wrong attitude can derail your culture work.

Open communication promotes success. Companies with free and open communication are far more successful in establishing an engaging culture. When staff feels free to ask questions and discuss core issues with leadership, they’ll be much more engaged and the culture is strengthened, thus the company “team” is united in working in the best interest of the customer and the company reaps the reward of their continued loyalty.

Consequences of not focusing on Culture?

You can be successful in spite of yourselves, but that is not the norm. Not taking the time to actively shape the culture is indicative of a “non-directional” culture prone to reactionary decisions, inconsistencies in customer experiences, and intermittent lucky successes.

Possible Indications of Needing Culture Work

  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Lackluster performance by employees
  • Disengaged staff
  • Minimum expectations delivered by staff
  • Low attendance at company events
  • Employee -vs- Leadership mindset
  • Declining customer loyalty and satisfaction

Prioritizing the definition and execution of your ideal Culture will pays off in many ways…

  • Morale will increase
  • Staff will willingly engage outside of their own responsibilities do more than the minimum
  • Everyone will understand and embrace the purpose of the company and actively work to support and promote it
  • Staff will feel empowered and engaged resulting in more thoughtful decisions to benefit both the company and the customers
  • Customers will benefit by doing business with a company where they feel they are part of an organization actively working to help them succeed in their responsibilities and goals
  • That Customer Experience will increase customer loyalty and generate referrals
  • Increased referrals and loyalty promote higher sales, resulting in higher profits, resulting in the successful longevity of the company.

It’s a beautiful thing…

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