Do you really need a total business reorganisation or just a change of the on-hold music? In this opinion piece, Confirmit Australia country manager Chris Breslin explores how you can crank your customer experience up a few notches.
Sometimes it is the simple things in life that can make the most difference and so it is with getting the best out of your Voice of the Customer programme.
As a customer experience professional, you have to ensure you can deliver insight from your programme that will have a real impact on your organisation’s business, generating the best ROI possible. But making adjustments to improve the outcomes you get does not always mean big, dramatic changes to your entire set up.
Do you really need to re-define key business processes, creating a bottom-up re-shuffling of your teams? Or would smaller, tactical changes have more impact on your employees and customers on a daily basis?
Often, those simpler, more carefully targeted changes can also ensure the resulting payoff in CX is owned by everyone in the organisation and not just a designated group.
To put it into context, the huge range of actions that can directly impact on the customer experience can be likened to that old classic; rocks, pebbles and sand.
- Rocks: The big changes – processes that can take months, possibly years to implement, that will eventually have a massive impact on the business such as a new billing system, or a total restructure of the organisation.
- Pebbles: The smaller initiatives, managed within a team, that bring together, for example, sales and marketing departments to drive improvements in a particular touchpoint or engagement. These are elements that drive the sense of community around your Voice of the Customer programme.
- Sand: This is about the behaviour of individuals. Small changes that may not seem like much in themselves but which directly impact customers and which build to generate sustained improvement. For example, in the call centre, what changes to an agent’s approach to a customer query or complaint might have an impact?
This approach is useful because it enables employees across your organisation to understand that the customer experience is NOT ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’.
Demonstrating how small changes have a real impact encourages staff at every level to take accountability for their actions and to make changes at their level of influence.
With the rocks – those big organisation-wide changes – taking so long to implement it is important to take a multi-layered approach. Their impact may be huge and enormously beneficial but you also have to look at what can be done immediately.
If your Voice of the Customer programme is telling you a new IT system will deliver ROI and impact the customer experience – go for it! In 18 months’ time, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your new system.
In the meantime, while your CIO is beavering away on that, the rest of your employees can all play their part too. The role of clear and timely data is critical here. To enable change – even at the pebbles and sand level – you need feedback and robust insights that help you make the right decisions about what changes to implement.
To achieve this you need to capture customer feedback at all the key stages in the customer journey, bringing them together to provide a coherent view of the overall customer experience.
Bringing all your data together will begin to reveal the common threads that underpin multiple experiences – and that’s how you find your pebbles. Where a single approach or process affects several stages of the customer journey, then changing that single element will have a multiplied effect.
Often, different teams are unaware of the wider role that a process plays so by bringing these teams together you can create cross-functional teams to build a more effective approach.
It’s a similar process with the “sand” elements. At this level, you are asking people to change their behaviour, which isn’t always a comfortable thing for them to do.
So ensure you are using data to provide a rationale for the change and remember that you are not dictating specific change. Rather, you are empowering employees to make decisions about their behaviour so they can impact the customer experience at their level of influence.
Knowing they are trusted to make such decisions can provide a huge boost to employees who, even on the front line, don’t always fully appreciate the impact they have on the customer experience. Insight, again, plays a huge role here.
Empowering employees to make changes to the actions they take is one thing, but you need to provide robust and timely feedback on the impact that change had. If it was successful, ensure they know about it and recognise them for making a positive impact and, of course, share what you have learned so you can replicate the change elsewhere.
However, when something hasn’t worked well, use data to explain why it didn’t work and search for new approaches that might be more successful.
Small changes might not seem like a huge thing but, particularly with the huge role of word of mouth via social media, even a small change can have a big impact on your reputation – and bottom line. And who knows, by the time you have worked through all that sand the new IT system might be ready!