All Roads Lead to Customer Experience

Before I jump into today’s post, All Roads Lead to Customer Experience, please allow me to invite SAP Customer Experience LIVE attendees to join my session in the SAP Litmos Thought-leader Track on Wednesday, May 8 at 9AM (ET) in Room C. It will be a really fun, but insightful talk on how to Wow Your Customers with a CX-Superstar Workforce. You’ll find additional session details here.

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How often do you interact with customers?

Perhaps often, perhaps not. Maybe you have a general sense of customers, but it’s been a while since you really observed them or helped them directly.

However, if I ask this question differently, it becomes more difficult to answer. Try this: Who was the last customer you interacted with directly? What was his or her name? What was their challenge? How was it ultimately resolved?

When I pose these questions in workshops or to audiences, I witness a lot of questioning looks around the room. As they try to come up with the specifics of an actual customer, things can get a little hazy. Was it a year ago? Was it directly interacting with them? Whatever did happen to the resolution?

It’s natural, in growing and already-large organizations, that we can go days, weeks and even months without interacting with a customer directly. There is plenty to do “behind the scenes” to keep us busy. Many people have roles within our organizations where they consider themselves not “customer-facing.” They hear the term customer experience and immediately categorize that as something others in the organization need to focus on, but not them.

And, yet, if we examine the very best organizations in the world, we are likely to find those who are focused on customer experience. Without much advertising, organizations disrupted entire industries by ensuring every person in the organization understands how their role and actions were directly related to the customer’s experience.

But there’s a catch!

Saying “Customer Experience is Everyone’s Job” is like saying “Do Quality Work!” It’s a nice thing to say, but does it really mean anything? Here are a few ways to help each person working in your organization today see how all roads – including the one they’re on and the one they’re currently paving – lead to customer experience.

1.Emphasize the employee experience.

Employee experience should reflect similar values as the customer experience you want to deliver. If your employees feel neglected, exploited or ignored, they will inherently understand that as they experience you have with customers.

Help your employees know how valuable they are to your organization and your customers. Celebrate those who stand up for customers and expose processes and procedures that are preventing them from delivering the best experience they could. Don’t punish those who are trying to improve the experience from the inside out.

2. Share not just numbers, but stories.

Humans love a good story. We often share robust dashboards, dense accounts, and interesting-as-paint-drying announcements on our quarterly results. Results of numbers moving up and down don’t tell a story – only stories do that. Customer stories help bring the work we do to life. Check out this great video example of how Acura does that!

Some healthcare organizations have started to ask patients to come in and share their stories with the board, the executives and doctors, and the maintenance staff. Instead of looking at a “coronary patient” who doesn’t have a name, they witness a person with a story all their own. This has helped increase empathy and patient satisfaction scores simply because we as humans connect in this way.

This can be especially helpful with training. Training should be tied back to actual customers and their experiences. Otherwise, it’s easy to think a process doesn’t really impact the customer’s journey when it does. One hospitality organization made a series of videos showing only the customer’s face when the employee didn’t know the process well enough. It became a montage of increasingly frustrated and confused emotional visages! Showing this to employees before they began training on the process helped them increase engagement and improve customer satisfaction with the process. It’s all about connecting the dots!

3. Ask your “non-customer-facing” employees to participate in customer-facing roles at least once a year.

While some organizations do this in a symbolic way, others will actively recruit for these roles. There is nothing quite like walking in someone else’s shoes to really understand. Knowing what our colleagues deal with also helps us understand their requests more.

In working with a utility company, I had the opportunity to “ride along” with HVAC repair workers. I can say I hadn’t fully appreciated the whole idea of walking into someone’s house without any real expectation of what might be there. In one case, the sewer was being “repaired” by a neighbor while we were there. Let’s just say I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

By connecting these experiences to those who worked behind the scenes, those in invoicing or marketing, for example, we were able to build a more seamless customer experience. There was an understanding that sending an invoice that was cold and impersonal felt “off” from the experience of inviting a technician into your home for, in some cases, a few hours. Their work behind the scenes didn’t seem so distant from the customer after all.

How can you help your employees who believe they don’t really touch the customer see the ways they do? How can you show them how all roads lead to customer experience? My recent SAP Litmos webinar was all about helping you find the best ways to connect these dots in your organization. Watch it now for free!