Is Customer Experience really the Day Job?

Why isn’t customer experience part of the “day job”?

We have been writing about and studying customer experience behaviours for some time and currently working on some research using the 7 P’s approach. From what we have found it seems that “Customer Experience” doesn’t usually form part of the day job..

Apart from the research why else do we think this? Well ask yourself about your experiences you get when in a store or online, how often have you thought that the company you were dealing with was putting the customer, you, first?

When we are at work and not directly in touch with the customer we have a million and one other things to think about mostly driven by internal bureaucracy. Where does the customer fit in then?

As a customer, when we do get an exceptionally positive experience it is often because a member of staff has gone “out of their way” to make something happen; “I shouldn’t really do this but …” and not necessarily because it’s part of what they are told to be doing. In other words they are making an exception to make it personal.

There appears at times to be a disconnect between doing the right thing, what the employee feels they should be doing, and what their management, through policies and procedures, wants them to do. Even managers, when asked, think that their policies etc. may need adjusting but it’s someone else’s responsibility or there isn’t time at the moment. This can only put stress and tension into the employees and onto the customer.

This tension and stress can be manifested in many ways, such as long check out queues building irritated purchasers and frustrated staff. Indifferent employees, manifested by staff and management walking around and not acting to shorten the queues. Queues again at help desks either instore, on the phone or online with incompetent or overstretched staff trying to resolve problems and not knowing where to start. Receiving collections and getting the wrong or damaged items or even the item hasn’t physically arrived and there are many others examples.

All of these build stress for the staff, lowers the reputation of the organisation and damages the relationship with the customers. Why do some instore chemists not have a pharmacist available over lunch times? And why is it some opticians make you wait 2 weeks for an eyesight test when others can do it within a couple of hours?

Most of this comes down to operational efficiency and investment in getting the right people in the right place with the right knowledge properly educated and empowered.

So what needs to happen to put customer experience into the day job?

It’s 3 things and it starts at the top, this has to be tops down effort because if the board don’t get it and buy into it then they can’t expect the staff to engage. I think it’s called leadership.

The 3 things are

Engagement, Education and Empowerment, simple maybe but remember this is all about people so it definitely won’t be simple.

  • Engagement … is everyone in the organisation on board and buying into making the customer happy? Have they been invited to add their views, comments, concerns and ideas into the mix?
  • Education … no this isn’t a mornings training class or a new directive published on the notice board. This is a proper ongoing education and development program for all employees top to bottom and front to back. Helping all to understand the impact of what they do has on the customer.
  • Empowerment … probably the toughest item as this is where management let go and let the employees deliver. A real test on how well their employees have been engaged and educated.

Getting the right “tone” from the management team will ensure that the employees will see that treating the customer well matters. Getting it right on one day is great but how is it sustained over time, keeping the staff motivated to deliver the promised experience. This is about reward and recognition but only to a point. It is also about getting the staff involved about improvement recommendations asking for their recommendations. After all they are facing the customer and their associated problems on a daily basis, they see the shifts in behaviour and can recognise trends far better than management.

But they can only do this if they are told it matters.

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