Tag Archives: Customer

Leadership, Employee Engagement and Customer Service

I attended last years IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney and thoroughly enjoyed the content. I learned a lot.

There were many great speakers. Many of them focused on the what – meaning that I learned about tools, measurements, successes through data collection and customer platforms, amongst other aspects. I was invited to this year’s conference, including the opportunity to be a guest speaker during the opening day. I wanted to set a challenge to myself and the attendees with a pitch more aligned to the ‘how’:

• How do we achieve improved customer service results?
• How do we establish the right culture to balance employee, customer and business needs?
• How do we use the extensive quantities of data available to real advantage?
• How do we create employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that means our customers feel the benefit?
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My presentation was titled ‘Customer Experience Management from the Inside-Out‘ The core theme implies that if we want to genuinely positively impact customer experience and service standards, we must build a culture and understanding that the customer matters with all employees. We should view Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool. I imagine everyone in the room knew this. I also believe that most of the attendees, all specialists in their fields, actively focus on internal culture, employee engagement and the relationship to customer service and experience to some degree. Many of them may even measure this.
Ledaership, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience - How Do They See You?
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However, building a culture that is actively and meaningfully engaging both internal customers (your employees) and external customers is more easily said than done. I do not pretend to have all the answers and I recognise that inputs into Customer Experience Management (CEM) are many and varied. What I will say though is that in my experience there is a gap between intent and behaviour when it comes to leadership, development, employee engagement, empowerment and related beliefs and activities in many organisations. According to a report created by the Genesys group titled the Cost of Poor Customer Service, 73% of consumers end a relationship due to poor service. The report highlights various trends and many areas to focus on, along with details regarding statistics and verbatim comments related to CEM. At face value it should be easy to improve upon aspects such as these.
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Accessing more data or modernising software and systems can assist issues such as those highlighted, however it is only part of the story. I have made the mistake previously on trying to improve CEM through the front-line employees – those who have direct contact with our customers. Whereas it is possible to see success at individual employee level, the messages and learning must be reinforced by leaders and through what they were being measured on. I have learned that a bottom-up approach for providing great customer service only takes you so far.

Leadership, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience

Different departments are often siloed and have different leaders with varying skills and agendas along with competing objectives, metrics and motivations. In many organisations, departments do not work together naturally as a team to best serve the customer, yet such teamwork is essential to collaboratively deliver consistent customer experience. The 2011 Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report explores the relationship between consumers and brands. Based on a survey commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive, the report reveals:

• 86 percent will pay more for a better customer experience.

• 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.

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None of this would be a big surprise to many of you, I am sure. But, they are good reasons for us as business leaders to focus on improving our customer experience.

A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change.

The CE IQ study found that the most successful companies are those who have senior leadership not only buying into but actively driving a customer centric culture and related set of actions. Intuitively this all makes sense. So, where are the gaps.
Part of the answer can be found through two questions, which when responded to provide insight for any business:
  • What makes a memorable experience that causes consumers to stick with a brand?
  • How do we make our customers feel?
Effective leadership and employee engagement are critical factors in providing a culture where people want to work…and to provide more of what our customers want. Foundation values such as empowerment and employee satisfaction cannot be given to an individual or employee-base, but creating an environment that has a higher propensity towards meeting these needs is possible.
Customers can tell within minutes—even seconds—whether they are dealing with an engaged and committed employee or a dissatisfied employee, which can greatly affect their willingness to engage in business, and ultimately impact a company’s profitability. Studies have shown that, great leaders are able to keep their highest performing employees and have four times the number of highly committed employees, which affects productivity.
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The lesson for any manager is clear: If you want to increase profits and have more satisfied customers, develop your teams, develop your own skills and concentrate on becoming a more effective leader.

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Leadership @Customer Experience Management Conference

IQPC: Customer Experience Conference and Leadership

This week I attended the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and many other speakers have shared their thoughts and presentations over the three days.

Although the conference theme was based around Customer Experience, there have been many great quotes and comments regarding leadership, business and culture that are worth sharing. This blog highlights a few of the key points that I felt were most relevant and resonated with my own values and passions.

Thank you to all the speakers for sharing!

  • How are you choosing to challenge what has been done previously? Don’t accept the reasonable reasons from the past.
  • Our employees want to know their leaders and what they care about.

Gordon Ballantyne, Telstra

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  • Leadership cannot be outsourced to HR.
  • Be disciplined: celebrate short-term but don’t forget your ultimate goal.

Dirk Hofman, Nokia

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  • The empowered customer is now in control of the business relationship.
  • 90% of effort is used collecting and collating data and 10% actually using it – it should be the other way around.

Peter Harris, Vision Critical

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  • Question the initial question to truly understand the business problem.
  • Team composition is most important. A lack of a balanced mix is one of the core reasons projects fail.

Mark Nealy, ThoughtWorks

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  • Most organisations and leaders only spend around 20% of their time adding value to the customer.
  • The fundamental mission of business should not be about profit, but rather value creation.

Dr Shayne Silcox, Melville Council

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  • Businesses have to deliver good service to earn the right to sell to customers.

Andrew Pearce, National Australia Bank

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11 Key Leadership and Customer Experience Mantras

CoachStation: Leadership & Customer Experience

This week I am attending the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and presented on the subject of ‘Building Customer Experience Frameworks From The Inside Out’.

The comments and quotes highlight some of my key themes and concepts that I feel are most important when developing a Customer Experience philosophy and strategy:

  1. Unless your business sees Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool, then your customers will feel the pain of what is not being provided by your customer-facing employees.
  2. Leaders should create a culture of employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that ensures your customers benefit. When we get our leadership mantra right…our employees care about their roles and our customers ‘feel’ the difference.
  3. The so-called soft-skills that differentiate management from leadership are most commonly the key to driving the change in our employees that we are looking for. Leadership is not a tick-the-box exercise. Effective leadership, relationship-building, coaching, connecting, understanding employee motivations, empowerment are all possible – but they take considerable strategy, effort and application.
  4. Foundation values such as empowerment and employee satisfaction cannot be given to an individual but creating an environment that has a higher likelihood towards meeting these needs is possible.
  5. Assumptions are regularly made regarding leaders capability to enact change and employees willingness to make it stick. It is a mistake to assume that employees can and will automatically apply change just because they are asked to.
  6. Businesses exist primarily to provide a product or service that ultimately maximises profit. We, as leaders and business owners have an obligation to our employees greater than simply using them as tools to increase profit.
  7. Employee engagement, buy-in, effective leadership and an ability to coach can be the difference between a transactional, short-term outcome and real, sustained transformational change.
  8. There is a gap between intent and behaviour when it comes to leadership, development, employee engagement, empowerment and related activities in many organisations.
  9. In my experience too often a business runs a workshop, sends an employee to a training session or takes some other well-intentioned step to rectify a perceived or real gap. In itself, attendance at a session such as this will make little difference in behaviour or output for most people. People generally do not have the ability to interpret all of this information and make meaningful change. An employee may also not be working in a culture that reinforces or drives change as a result of this ‘new knowledge’. Post-training follow up and reinforcement through coaching are key.
  10. A bottom-up approach for providing a great customer experience only takes you so far. A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change.
  11. Leaders often focus on the tangible process, systems and technology aspects of business. The challenge is to ensure we provide more than a cursory input into our employees and the link between engagement and customer service.

…and the presentation was sealed by elements from Ken Blanchard’s recent blog, worth repeating:

It all starts with the leaders of the organization creating a motivating environment for their people to work in. When that happens, it’s no surprise when the workers go out of their way to serve their customers…and the good word gets around. The organization’s best salespeople are the customers they’re already serving. The end result of all of this good news is that the organization becomes sound financially.

So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.

Think of your organization as a stagecoach. Upper management might be the drivers of the stagecoach, but your people are the horses—the ones who create the forward movement. If the leaders get knocked out of the stagecoach, it keeps moving. But if something happens to the horses, everything comes to a screeching halt. So serve and help each other, and then reach out to your customers with the enthusiasm and desire and fabulous service that will make them raving fans…

Don’t forget that without your people, you’re nothing.

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