11 Things You Must Know to Win the Customer Experience Battle
If knowing is half the battle, what’s the other half?
In the 1980s, there was a G.I. Joe cartoon series for kids that embodied good vs. evil. At the end of each episode was a public service announcement (PSA) that would answer various questions and teach kids some valuable lessons. Each PSA ended with, “Now I know! And knowing is half the battle!”
This got me thinking, in a customer experience sort of way.
Knowing really is half the battle. You want your employees to deliver a great customer experience for your customers, right? What do you need to tell them? What must they know in order to deliver the experience customers expect?
Here are a few topics that are pretty important to know.
Customer Understanding: Listening to customers and ensuring that their feedback is shared and acted upon throughout the organization helps connect the dots for employees, who hear how what they do translates into the customer experience. At the same time, the knowledge must go beyond listening to really understanding who your customers are and what they are trying to do.
Customer Journeys: A customer journey map is the ultimate tool to help connect all employees to how they impact the customer experience. It details what the customer experiences while trying to complete a task with the company. It also helps create a clear line of sight for all employees, frontline and back office, to the target/goal: a great customer experience. It helps them understand how their contributions matter.
Customer Experience Vision: Your CX vision will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. (Of course, it will be rooted deeply in customer understanding.) It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action. Your CX vision statement will connect the dots between what you’re doing and for whom you’re doing it, in addition to creating alignment within the organization.
Brand Promise: A brand promise is the expectation you set with your customers; it’s a promise you make to your customers. Everything you and your employees do should reflect this promise. Consistently. It’s a combination of the brand purpose and the reality of what the brand can deliver. In most cases, defines the benefits a customer can expect to receive when experiencing your brand at every touch point. For example, JetBlue’s brand promise is “You above all.” If I’m working for JetBlue, that’s a clear message to me that I the customer comes first.
Core Values: Your core values are guiding principles for your employees; they outline which behaviors and actions are right and which are wrong, both for your employees and toward your customers. Everything you do must be aligned with your values, and they should be integrated into everything you do.
Purpose: It’s your reason for being, your Why. Customers buy from brands with which they align; similarly, employees want to work for companies with which they are aligned. Make sure everyone in the organization understands your Why.
Empathy: Teach employees to really pay attention to what the customer is saying, both verbally and through body language. Anticipate customer needs/emotions/reactions, and recognize when/how to use empathy. Role play for employees to really make it click; teach them the cues that signal it’s time for empathy to kick in. Show them that it’s important to always be listening and be prepared to respond in the way the customer needs you to respond, not in the way a script tells you to respond.
There’s more, but I think this covers the major categories.
How do you then ensure your employees are in the know? Maybe you need your own PSA? There are a lot of different ways to get your employees on the right page. The primary vehicles for delivering this knowledge are:
Onboarding: You can’t just hire people, set them free, and think they’ll understand what’s expected of them. By “knowing what’s expected of them,” I don’t just mean knowing what to do in their new roles; explaining the job, the benefits, and where to find the paper clips are all important to the onboarding process, but they must know what it means to be a part of your organization, i.e., knowing your brand promise, values and commitment, what it means to live the brand, where the priorities lie, and how to deliver a great customer experience. This is a great time to set the tone for the culture.
Continuous Training: You also can’t expect that as both the business and customer expectations evolve, employees will automatically know and adapt/evolve, too. There must be ongoing training to ensure that employees are kept abreast of changes in the business, expectations, and more. It’s always wise to provide refreshers and reinforcement of the things that are most important for employees to know.
Communication: What gets shared and communicated regularly is viewed as important to your employees. Not only does communication lend clarity, it is critical to a clear line of sight to the goal. Communication must be open and ongoing.
Culture: While this isn’t technically a vehicle for delivering knowledge, it is the guard rail that helps keep employees within the yellow lines. As Herb Kelleher said, “Culture is what people do when no one is looking.”
If we provide employees with clear guidelines and expectations, recognize and reward the right behavior, and allow them to learn from their mistakes, they’re covered for half the battle.
So knowing is half the battle; what’s the other half? Technically, fighting. But in our story, I would say it’s making sure you hire the right people, i.e., having the right people in your frontline workforce to fight the good fight.
Hire for attitude — train for skill. Those are the two halves of this battle.