If you have reached the position of CEO, Congratulations! You are now part of an exclusive club that comprises 5.5% population of the United States.
The journey to reach the top is not an easy one, and I speak this from my personal experience. It takes long hours, excruciating intellectual and physical effort and most importantly, having a "fervour" attachment to the kind of work that you do. Yet the journey of re-imagining, recreating and re-evaluating the playbook of the entire organisation is only the beginning.
The culture of an organisation is defined by its CEO, who is the gatekeeper to the entire philosophy that an organisation carries forward in all departments, working together to implement the goal in mind. Today's organisations are all competing with each other based on customer experience. In fact, 86% of Fortune 500 companies today believe that they compete with each other primarily on customer experience management since product differentiation is becoming less and less pronounced".
Everyone’s approach to providing a better customer experience journey could be unique, but here are a few well-thought-out steps that could serve as a guidebook in implementing the proper customer-centric methodology for any CEO of a company:
1. Think about the ‘Employee First’, who thinks about the “Customer First”.
Great customer experience is only possible when the employees are enlightened with the ideology of a ‘Customer-First’ culture. The employees, who band together under a common goal are more prone towards achieving it. An example of this practice is established by Walt Disney who brought together the entire organisation under a common goal, “To create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere". The goal is simple and every employee embodies it in their cultural personalisation.
It is no secret that employees are the powerhouse of any organisation and if the employees are dissatisfied with how a company is operating, it is not possible to create a culture of customer-centricity.
People would like to believe in the saying that “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. But when you are in a business and your customers are dealing with your products and services, bad publicity is exactly what it sounds like. In 2009, Dave Carroll posted a song on his channel with the title “United Breaks Guitars”. In just four weeks, United Airlines had to incur a loss of $180 Million, all for not caring about a $3,500 Taylor guitar that Dave was carrying with him. The real issue was still not related to not caring about the guitar, but rather how the staff responded to and not cared about an unsatisfied customer. When Dave raised the issue with the Airline staff, they were completely ‘indifferent’ to his situation and went on to say that he was not eligible to receive compensation as he did not file the complaint within 24 hours of the incident. The employees were not given the right direction when it came to dealing with their customers and had to pay the price, literally.
2. Ask the right questions and come up with the right answers
To know what sort of culture you want to establish across your organisation, one of the crucial steps is to come up with the exact, holistic questions that you want to be covered in your customer experience journey. This McKinsey and Company article points out certain key questions when it comes to establishing a "good" customer experience orientation. The article highlights the following key questions:
- What is a company’s appetite for change in the near term? Is the goal to change the customer experience fundamentally or simply to improve it at the margins?
- What is the gap between the needs and wants of customers and what they actually experience?
- How can the company gain a customer-experience advantage against competitors?
- At which point in the experience should the company concentrate to have a real impact?
- How do the overall capabilities of the staff support the customer experience the company wants to provide?
I, on the other hand, provide one more key question to the list:
- What is my Net Promoter Spirit going to be when it comes to the “customer-first” culture that I want to establish across my organisation?
The realistic idea behind this is to measure and analyse customer satisfaction feedback, which can be utilised and appropriated to construct better strategies. I have analysed the interesting subject of the Net Promoter Spirit in this article.
3. Design the pathway on which the customers are happy to take the journey
This is about creating a suitable culture where the employees know what they have to do to achieve the goal you put forward. Even more, it is not just your goal, you have to make sure that your employees understand, embody and act according to the ultimate goal to achieve it – it should be their goal, even more than it is yours. When the employees have understood and achieved this kind of mindset, they will design the pathway for you, where every customer feels like a valued individual when he/she contacts a customer touchpoint of your brand. McKinsey and Company’sinsight highlight that "Too many companies focus on individual interaction touchpoints devoted to billing, onboarding, service calls and the like". You have to set yourself apart. Think differently in this process, how can you make your customer journey memorable and unique from your competitors? This sort of mind frame establishes a unique loyalty between your customers and your brand.
4. The transition from satisfaction to loyalty is about understanding customer preferences
NPS, which was a game-changer in customer and employee feedback, brought with it the element of loyalty. It takes a lot of effort and money to give customers what they want, how they want it and when they want it. The first two questions are the tricky ones to tackle because they are linked to the psychological factor. Ganesh Mukandan points out a very relevant approach to knowing the psychological factor when it comes to consumer loyalty. "The question is how much do you care? It's all about the small stuff. Everything adds up to eventually something far bigger — amazing company culture and delighted customers!". The idea here is again related to the internal cultural values that affect external interactions with customers. Unless and until the employees do not understand the philosophy of the NPS spirit, which is built around "Treating others as you would want to be treated", they would not be able to implement it and provide the desired results you expect of them.
TD Bank’s obsession with its customers is pivotal to its success. They understand what their customers want and when they want it. The Bank has given its employees the freedom, or a “License to Thrill” their customers at every touchpoint. They allowed their customers to have their banking needs fulfilled 24/7, even on the weekends. Their approach is quite internal in dealing with their customers, and by internal, I mean their employees who get the chance to narrate and promote their stories of "exceptional everyday experience".
5. Quantifying the quality of customers' loyalty.
You can take surveys to ask your customers how satisfied they are with your brand or how likely are they to recommend it to their friends and family, but the majority of companies do that today. Gathering data is just one step of the whole process, it is what you do with it at your disposal that matters. Gathering, measuring, analyzing the data and then strategising according to the results is and should be the overall holistic process of knowing what your strengths and weakness are, and how you can not only improve the latter but also improve the former.
How did DBS Bank become 2018’s “Best Bank in the World”? By doing what was necessary to improve their customer experience management. They used their analytical tools to measure, analyse and improve their customer experiences. You can do the same, by choosing an all-in-one advanced analytical platform, Antlere, to measure, analyze, engage, and improve your customer experience management. Our advanced platform provides all the necessary tools that you need to know about what, when, where, and how exactly your customers are being cared for.
6. Taking the Digital Route: The Quicker, the Better.
This point is sort of a reiteration of my previous analysis of the importance of digitization in the 21st century's digital age. It is impossible to survive in today's business world without embracing the latest tools and trends that customers are so rapidly adopting. The digital route, picking on all the necessary steps to ensure that the business model is modernised, especially when it comes to satisfying customers, is the route to take.
Picking on digitization, DBS Bank started to reinvent its digital image, coming up with a new website, digital services and AI-Based customer experience interactions. Now, they open up their virtual banks incurring just a "one-fifth" cost of a traditional bank setup. In 2016 Accenture conducted a study and launched their Digibank mobile app which has now developed it into a ‘one-tap’ solution for its users. It is no wonder that in these quick efforts, multidisciplinary teams jointly design, test and iterate high-impact processes and journeys in the field, continually refining and re-releasing them after input from customers.
7. Allocate the right amount of resources to customer experience.
Let me highlight the old proverb, ‘It takes money, to make money’. Do you remember Newton's third law of motion? Well, it can be applied to this proverb. The more investment you make in pushing the customer-centric methodology and culture across your organisation, the more customers will buy what you are selling. Customers do not only require quality products and services, but they also require a memorable experience. Customer-centricity begins with the monetary investment that is specifically designed and executed, like hiring the right people for the right positions, carrying out the relevant R&D to improve products and services, opening more customer touchpoints for customers to interact with your brand, etc. When one invests heavily in this approach, the customers become promoters, give you more of their business and eventually become the cause of better profits in the future.
Good luck on your journey to transform your organisation in light of these suggestions and give your customers the memorable experiences they deserve.
Abacus Cambridge Partners and CEO, Antlere