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Stay Alert: What Better Advice For Delivering The Right Customer Experience?

By Steve Oliver.

It strikes me that staying alert is an ongoing activity, something that applies to every process we undertake.  In the world of customer experience this is pivotal because consistent delivery of process is vital, though it needs to be accompanied by engaged team members able to make each interaction personal. So how do you ensure you maximise your customer experience?

Process Re-engineering?
Arguably it’s simple to get the headline news right about your COVID-19 plans but far more difficult to follow this through in the required level of detail. Here businesses need to clarify their new norms to colleagues and customers alike. May be this is a time to remove some the bureaucracy that we’ve got used to? Or enable us to bin the terms ‘’we’ve always done it this way’’ or ‘’Business As Usual’’? The current situation forces us to turn things upside down and re-engineer in more efficient ways with the changes having the customer at their centre. A critical part of this is the feedback loop from customers and colleagues alike as continuous improvement must always be on the agenda.

New KPIs?
I doubt many supermarkets entered 2020 considering that the length of queues outside their stores might need a KPI before the end of Quarter 1 but it’s certainly on their radar now. Likewise, how well those retailers care for their staff from Perspex screens to face masks to demarcation. Many other new requirements have hit businesses – for example a huge percentage are undertaking home deliveries for the first time - so these new approaches need KPIs to sit alongside them. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be flexing of KPIs at the right time – in the last couple of weeks I heard someone lamenting that Amazon delivery times had slipped by 24-48 hours which simply made me wonder if they were still living in 2019…

Digital Investment?
For Marketing Week, Econsultancy researched large enterprise trends since the pandemic hit. What they found was that 20% had committed to new, large scale digital transformation initiatives. These companies, with global turnovers of over £50m, are generally much less agile than smaller businesses but with focus on new processes (60%) or innovative customer communications (43%), large enterprises are on the move. This simply means the rest of us need to move even faster…

Team Engagement?
Saving the most critical until last, let’s turn to Team Engagement. This begins with regular, transparent communication - from company wide briefings to fast and brief updates that allow for a two-way dialogue, ensuring colleagues truly feel part of the solution. There’s plenty of change going on (see above!) let alone the need to re-affirm new Health & Safety Guidelines. Don’t make the mistake though of not managing how company wide broadcasts come across – I recently heard of a CEO’s briefing that took place in front of an amazing fine wine collection. Obviously not the ideal backdrop for some of the challenging conversations going on right now. With roles being stretched or totally re-worked, how are those adapting magnificently being recognised?

In my experience it is clear that a great Customer Experience will only be delivered in a sustainable manner if the Team Experience is equally joined up and rewarding.

The only clear way to do this is to undertake the customer journey from the customer’s perspective. For example, there’s never been a clearer need for online mystery shopping to find gaps, glitches or the incongruous. For example, take a look at the wording below from a famous retailer’s website: a reference to summer meetings and weddings…

The new season suit

New season Suit

New season?... Too hot?

If you find yourself sweltering through summer meetings and weddings in your woolen winter suit, it’s time to make the switch.

Does your app have pain points that in this new world that customers are seeing with far greater frequency? What customer research can you do that tracks how opinions are changing over time or where they drift off your site onto another?

Why Is All This Important?
In this new era some old rules will still apply. Those unhappy with your business don’t have the time to tell you – just 4% complain – so they simply walk away. This old rule has a new dynamic now because so many of us are trying new brands or retailers because the normal choice simply isn’t available. So, you risk losing some of your devotees but have a chance to capture new customers. Additionally, some of your competitors may already be making huge mistakes (airlines and pub chains may spring to mind) so could this tragic situation help your business rather than hinder it?

Even More Change?
There’s an incredible amount of change going on right now but it’s clear that your customers and your colleagues will have elephant like memories. Did customers still feel valued, did you look after your staff well enough? Similarly, how you handled your business, department or team will leave a lasting impression with your colleagues.

Of course you may argue that with so much change coming at you that you haven’t got time to assimilate all of the above. I’d have to contend in response that may be it really is time to review your time management skills that last got reviewed a ’while back’. Perhaps I’ll flag up some pointers on this next time…

Finally, there’s only one real way to cope with this amount of change and that is to ‘Stay Alert’…

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