This phrase seems to be everywhere these days. With record low unemployment and an economy that keeps surging along, employers are in desperate need of employees to serve their customers. And consumers may be feeling this employment gap as evidenced by long lines and slow service as new employees are hired, trained and deployed to the front-lines to serve customers. As a result, a customer’s experience with your organization’s products and services may well be adversely impacted before they even have the chance to purchase your produce or engage with your services. Despite this potential customer experience liability, there is opportunity for organizations to better align their employees’ skills and behaviors to the established CX strategy.
There’s plenty of focus these days on how to improve the customer experience. Journey Mapping, Voice of Customer, Design Thinking, Experience Management, NPS, CXi, and many more, are methodologies that organizations can employ to move the experience needle and meet or exceed customer expectations. Sometimes, these efforts can fall short when they are not linked to employee behaviors and skills. The opportunity starts with every new employee we interview, hire and train in our organization. Developing and aligning the new employee competencies needed to execute our strategy is often overlooked but most likely is the difference between success and failure. Let me share two examples of what I mean about linking employee behaviors to the CX strategy.
A CEO once declared, “From now on we will be a “Customer-Focused” company. “ As professionals we know that having an engaged and committed CEO is integral to the success of any CX initiative. While the declaration created much excitement initially, over time, the enthusiasm began to wain as employees didn’t know what it meant to be “customer-focused”. They didn’t know what to do differently after hearing the declaration. In the absence of specific guidance, they created their own customer-focused activities that didn’t align to the newly created strategy. What could have been a rousing success turned into a less effective CX journey.
In another example, some years ago, I lead an effort to combine three jobs, customer service, inbound sales and order processing in a contact center into one customer management position. We needed to improve our customer experience and we concluded this was the best option based on customer expectations. Newly developed technology would enable us to eliminate many steps in these functions. The challenge was to identify and train the new skills, competencies and behaviors needed for agents to be successful in the combined role. We did encounter our own challenges as some employees embraced the change, while others sought comfort in the way we had always processed orders. Eventually, this new approach to serving customers increased both the satisfaction of our employees and customers.
Although I hesitate to say it, a truly effective CX strategy impacts all functions, levels and departments within an organization. Aligning to the new strategy will require people, processes and technology to change and evolve. If you’re company is one of those proclaiming “We’re Hiring”, seek candidates that align to the competencies, skills and behaviors required to achieve the CX strategy you’re executing. Combined with the need to train your established employees with new skills will ensure an effective CX strategy for years to come.