Customer Experience

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

This article defines the concept of employee experience, identifies the different phases in the employee experience journey, reviews the role of the employee as the ‘consumer of the workplace’, and looks at employee experience in the post-COVID era. The goal is to clarify the concept of employee experience and justify the importance of putting employee experience at the centre of your customer experience strategy.

What is employee experience (EX)?

Employee Experience, commonly denoted as EX, represents all those interactions an employee has with a company from the time the employee sees the job offer to the time this employee walks out of that company. This entails everything an employee sees, feels, learns and does in an organization before, during and after working with them. Employee experience looks internally into what creates satisfied and productive employees.

In a world where monetary motivation is no longer the primary objective of employees, employers need to prove to their employees that they matter to the organization. Talent acquisition and management have become more sensitive and organizations now leverage their people strategy as a key competitive tool. The customer is king. The employee is the queen. Using this metaphor, the employee is the queen who stands by the king. Taking care of the king’s well-being (customer) as well as that of the kingdom (organization). If the employee is not happy or motivated, what kind of service will the king (customer) receive?.

A motivated, happy and skilled employee is more likely to deliver good service, create a delightful customer experience, thus increasing customer loyalty and creating more value for the organization.

John Plaskoff asserts that the role of employee experience is to design working conditions that foster employee care. Employee experience is “the new human resource management approach”. HR should be more employee-oriented because customer satisfaction starts or depend on the kind of service or attitude an employee portrays to a customer. This is the best approach for the modern workplace as it enables the total devotion and empowerment of employees.

The four phases in the EX journey.

An organization should focus more on understanding the employee life cycle. Knowing the stages of the employee lifecycle makes it easy for management to identify how employee needs evolve. One fundamental mistake organizations make in their employee experience efforts, is using a one-cap-fits-all approach. The priorities and concerns of employees are constantly changing. Not being able to capture this change and effectively address the issues that matter most to employees has a major impact on their engagement, productivity and retention.

With insights from over 144,000,000 employee feedback data points obtained from 1000 plus companies in over 160 countries, Peakon identifies 4 phases in employee experience, then goes further to state and explain how employees react at each stage and what management needs to do. These stages include; onboarding, Initial development, Ongoing Development and Separation.

  1. Onboarding; this stage can last from 0 to 3 months, at this point the employee is not yet familiar with the new environment, so management should create conditions for the employee to feel comfortable because this is the most important stage since first impressions last long.
  2. Initial development; here, an employee starts to master their role, the internal processes of the company, develop relationships with other team members, and tries creating an impact in the company. This stage varies from 3 to 9 months. This is a strategic phase to speak with employees about their career goals and outline a growth plan. At this stage, the investment made in building their skills will set them up for future success.
  3. Ongoing development and retention; after about a year or more, the employee must have gained enough experience and knowledge that they become part of the company’s valuable members. At this stage, an employee will like to take on a new challenging task. Management can retain them by offering a new role or more challenging tasks to prevent them from seeking new opportunities elsewhere.
  4. Separation; this stage is inevitable in a company no matter how good their employee experience is. The most important thing here is for the separation to be done in peace so that management will know the real cause of the employee departure and ameliorate.

The employee is the ‘Consumer of the workplace’.

Gallup Inc defines employee experience as a journey an employee takes with an organization. It includes all the interactions the employee has with an organization before, during and after he/she leaves the company. The employee is the “consumer at the workplace” thus the need for increased interest in having a better employee experience.

Today’s employees are not only motivated by a paycheck. They need a more collaborative and supportive work environment. They want to work for an organization that permits them to enjoy their lifestyle. They need more work-life balance and jobs that give them personal wellbeing. Perceiving the employee as the consumer of the workplace entails paying attention to the moments that matter most to them.

Gallup Inc proposes 3 key phases in the development of a comprehensive employee experience strategy.

Aligning the employee experience to the organizations’ purpose, brand and culture. As such the experiences we design should reflect our purpose, brand and culture. Employees must experience what we preach and become an integral part of the culture we seek to build.

Focusing on the 7 key stages of the employee lifecycle. Attract; recruiting top talent (1). Hire; pick the stars (2). Onboard; affirm the decision (3). Engage; build strengths and purposes (4). Perform; drive expectations (5). Develop; coach career growth (6). Depart; positive exit experience (7).

Remembering the employee’s core needs at every stage. The focus here is to understand certain key aspects at the core of the employee’s interaction with the organization. Questions we must answer include: What is the quality of the relationship employees have with their managers? Is their role in the organization clearly defined? What value do they bring to their team? What is the nature of their space and place of work and how does this affect their work? How is their wellbeing affected by this job?

The idea is to develop a comprehensive employee experience strategy that is capable of improving the employee experience and creating more value for the organization. Employee experience entails making sure that the basic psychological needs of employees are consistently met, so that they are physically, emotionally and mentally fit at the place of work. An engaged employee is creative and innovative, which is excellent for the organization.

Post-COVID Employee experience.

A 2020 McKinsey research examines factors that lead to employee engagement, work effectiveness and wellbeing during and after the crisis. It highlights several observations and sheds light on the post-crisis employee experience. A key observation made is that the introduction of remote work has given employees a stronger sense of wellbeing, leaving them more engaged at work than employees in non-flexible and non-remote roles.

This study further proposes practical steps management can take to support and improve employee experience in the post-crisis era. Some of these strategic orientations include:

Being continually present, empathetic, transparent and action-oriented. The actions and care demonstrated by leaders during the crisis must not end now. Management must build on the trust and affiliation earned through their management of the crisis.

Going beyond the basic employee needs of safety and security to building trusting relationships, social cohesion and individual purpose. While safety and security were a major concern during the crisis period, in the post-crisis era, management must commit to meeting the broader needs of employees by focusing on drivers of work experience, effectiveness and wellbeing.

Understanding that just like external customers, employees are unique. Make use of new technologies and data analytics to better segment employees thus fully understanding their needs and providing more personalized experiences.

5 reasons why you should improve your employee experience.

  1. It creates a working climate that promotes performance.
  2. It improves teamwork and collaboration.
  3. It builds a strong organizational culture and a unique corporate identity.
  4. Your employee satisfaction has a direct effect on customer satisfaction.
  5. It permits you to attract and retain the right talent for your organization.

Conclusion

Irrespective of the number of employees in your team or the industry in which you operate,  you must be conscious of your employee experience strategy. It begins with identifying the purpose of your organization, then the people you need to attain this purpose. Next, it is important to identify the role each person has to play as well as the skills they need to play this role. Once this is clearly defined then we proceed to design and deploy the experiences. It is primordial at this phase to identify the drivers of employee wellbeing and performance, then put in place an environment that permits to create value for the employee and value for the firm.

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Authors

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy , Nkouekam Elibere Chancellore

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2021 Customer Service Predictions

10 Customer Service Predictions for 2021

If 2020 was to be given a name or a theme, we all will agree that name will be ‘the extraordinary year’. One in which the world experienced a major transformation in its regular way of life. Long-standing traditions were broken, new economic policies were introduced and there was no textbook strategy for how best to handle the global pandemic the world experienced. This shock did not end in the health sector, it changed the way we do business, it changed customer expectations and needs. We can confidently say it created a new reality. We can no longer talk of a return to normal but an adaptation to the new normal. These changes have created new customer service trends. Here are our 10 customer service predictions for 2021.

  1. Increased focus on Quality as a key Satisfaction determinant.
  2. The shift of digital engagement from the web to mobile applications.
  3. Focus on Touchpoints Analysis for optimal allocation of resources.
  4. Increased attention to touchless, self-service and remote service.
  5. Focus on internal customer experience as a tool to shape new corporate cultures.
  6. Decentralisation of the customer service function, with customer service becoming an integral part of every employee’s job description.
  7. Customer service bill of rights becoming more transparent, visible and obligatory.
  8. Shift to inferred feedback collections tools, by harnessing the power of cookies, sentiment analysis and AI.
  9. Multiplicity of customer experience management frameworks with an increased focus on academic customer experience research.
  10. Focus on digital skills as a key customer experience competence for employees.

Let us look at these in detail:

1. Increased focus on Quality as a key Satisfaction determinant.

Quality is an important factor in global competition. With increasing competition and demand by customers for better quality, organizations now realize that it is imperative to provide quality products and services if they must remain competitive in the marketplace. This explains the substantial investments in Total Quality Management Strategies. These strategies permit organisations to deliver products and services that align with customer needs, are better, cheaper, faster and more efficient than those offered by competition, with the participation of everyone in the organisation from top to bottom. (Dilber et al. 2005)

We forecast that in 2021, quality will take a central stage in customer valorisation of products and services. The existing health crisis has reminded people of the need for clean, safe and reliable products and services. This shift in customer expectations is accelerated by technological advancements that have made it easier to compare products and tap into the feedback of other users when making a purchase decision. While warmth in service remains important, quality will supersede warmth.

To remain competitive and customer centric, organisations will need to review their approach to quality. This can be achieved by:

  • Ensuring that each employee is responsible for the quality of the products and services offered to customers and plays an active role in the output obtained.
  • Understanding that quality is determined by customers and as such putting in place the necessary mechanisms to capture and use customer feedback.
  • Putting in place a culture of continuous improvement and empowering employees to find new ways of delivering better quality to customers.
  • Putting in place control mechanisms that measure the attainment of set objectives, identify gaps and quickly resolve them.     

2. The shift of digital engagement from the web to mobile applications.

A recent Gartner study reveals that employee and customer interactions have changed in a significant and permanent manner. It has become more mobile, virtual and distributed. In 2019, Gartner projected that Mobile apps will have the most impact on business success by 2020. A 2020 Statista research reveals that as of the 3rd quarter of 2020 there were over 2,87million apps on Google Play and 1.96 million available apps for iOS.  Though the web browser is still a popular touchpoint, mobile applications are on the rise and provide more personalised interactions with customers.

More and more organisations are rolling in mobile applications to complement their websites. These mobile applications enhance customer relationships, personalises the service offered to each customer, eases collection of feedback, eases customer support and provides more user data. In 2021 we forecast that the shift to mobile will be more visible as organisations seek more personalised avenues to create value for their customers.

3. Focus on Touchpoints Analysis for optimal allocation of resources.

In the early 1980s the president of the Scandinavian Airlines Jan Carlson asserted that ; any time a customer comes into contact with a business, however remote, they have an opportunity to form an impression. This impression he defined as a Moment of Truth. Impressions customers create about an organisation as they come in contact with this organisation at different contact points (Touchpoints).

The concept of customer touchpoints has since then been extensively diagnosed by researchers seeking better ways of improving customer experience. Today, most organisations can identify the different touchpoints in their interactions with customers. However, classifying these touchpoints in order of importance or impact and allocating resources more efficiently is still a puzzle to be resolved.

Aichner & Gruber in a 2017 research on managing customer touchpoints, observe that even though every customer touchpoint plays an important role in customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction, businesses usually have limited human and capital resources and must set strategic priorities and allocate their budget to some activities. This therefore requires a detailed customer touchpoints analysis to help determine the most valuable customer touchpoints and provide valuable insights for these strategic decisions.

We expect that in 2021, there will be more focus on touchpoints analysis. This will lead to the development of new models and management frameworks in this focus area.

4. Increased attention to touchless, self-service and remote service.

The first lesson everyone learned in the advent of COVID-19 was that we must avoid greeting each other through handshakes and keep safe distances. Through the year customers and employees became acquainted with the touchless service. This shifted a lot of technological research to how we can continue serving customers and meeting their needs in a touchless economy.

A good example is the technology giant NEC that developed a solution called Smart Guest check-in solution, that respects industry health and safety standards by enabling a touchless interaction. The solution does not only reduce waiting time but also unnecessary contact between guests and hotel staff.

During the 2020 pandemic Chinese retailers developed a touchless retail system. Creating a new way of serving customers while making virtual all customer service that was previously physical. With touchless retail, products are commanded through smartphones, payments done through smartphones, robotics and automation used in order fulfilment with minimal human intervention and automated drop off or pick up stations created in buildings or communities.

While we see these as measures put in place to cope with the pandemic, these innovations have come to stay and are creating new customer needs and expectations. The post COVID era beginning from 2021 will see a progression in such touchless technologies which will improve and promote self service and remote customer interactions.

5. Focus on internal customer experience as a tool to shape new corporate cultures.

Culture according to the Harvard Business Review expresses the organizations ‘ goals through beliefs and values. It guides the activities performed by the entire team through shared assumptions and group norms. It is anchored in unspoken behaviours, social patterns and mindsets.

Corporate culture creates an attitude alliance.  We can describe it as the attitude of the company. It is what the customer feels as he/she interacts with an organisation. Culture shapes the service attitude, defines how far employees are willing to go to assist customers and situates the value of customers to the members of an organisation.

One way to put in place a customer centric culture is through active involvement of leadership in building great internal customer experiences. Creating an environment where employees feel happy to work, feel supported by management and feel as active stakeholders whose contributions are recognised and whose actions are responsible for the success of the organisation.

In 2021, we foresee a greater involvement of the HR function in creating better employee experiences. Customer service will become a core objective of the HR department, with focus on shaping the corporate culture through improved internal customer experiences.

6. Decentralisation of the customer service function, with customer service becoming an integral part of every employee’s job description.

The customer service department and function like we have known will no longer exist. We project a decentralisation of the customer service function within the organisation in 2021.

  • Customer Service at the heart of operations: Technological advancements have changed the way customers interact with companies, from the processing of customer requests, to production of goods and services, down to order fulfilment and post purchase interactions, there is increased attention on customer experience. With the need for personalisation, speed, and ease of use among others. The ability to meet and exceed customers ‘ needs is at the centre of most business operations today.
  • Customer service at the heart of HR: The responsibility for customer satisfaction is shifting to the HR department. This begins with the selection of culture fit employees, training and internal customer experiences. The ability for employees to continuously deliver winning customer experiences depends largely on their training and personal competence. The ability for the HR department to monitor gaps in employee skills and attitudes directly affects the service they will deliver and impacts the overall customer service culture.
  • Customer service on the board: More and more organisations now realize that the absence of a customer service champion on the board is a major handicap to the organisation. The customer service strategy must be defined at the supreme organ of the organisation and the departmental objectives derived from it. The overall objective of the organisation is to satisfy its stakeholders ‘ needs. To meet stakeholder needs, achieving superior customer experience and satisfaction is the surest way to create sustainable value for the customers and the organisation.

We project that in 2021 there will be a higher decentralisation of the customer service function throughout the organisation. Some organisations will see a complete dissolution of the customer service department and the assignment of customer service objectives to all members of the organisation. Everyone will foremost be a customer service representative then accountant, or marketer, or operations head or CEO.

7. Customer service bill of rights becoming more transparent, visible and obligatory.

customer bill of rights is simply those set of rights you accord to your customers. Those very fundamental things your customers deserve and whose non-respect is discriminating against them or depriving them of what they are rightfully due. While this will vary from one organization to another, there are some basic rights that every organization must accord to the customers such as the right to be listened to, the right to complain if they are not satisfied with the products or services, the right to have their privacy respected and their data protected.

Many organisations already have a clearly established customer service bill of rights published on their corporate websites and in strategic positions in their offices and shops. We are predicting a shift from just wilful development of customer bill of rights to a more obligatory practice. We forecast that more professional bodies will make the publication and respect of these customer service rights obligatory.

The pressure may not only come from professional bodies and state regulators but also from customers themselves, who will tend to associate a firm declaration of customer service rights as proof of the company’s commitment to service quality. The customer service bill of rights, shares the corporate culture and gives the customers points by which they can hold organisations accountable.

8. Shift to inferred feedback collections tools, by harnessing the power of cookies, sentiment analysis and AI.

Today’s customers are pouring out tons of data on how they feel about the products and services they use. Putting in place the right feedback collection tools gives an organisation the possibility to collect useful and actionable data.

There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers’ directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analysing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.

Today, feedback tools use web analytics, cookies, sentiment analysis and artificial intelligence, to dig into the customers’ behaviour and sentiments transforming the results into actionable data. Cookie profiling does not just occur when you are on a particular website but the whole time you are browsing.

We forecast that 2021 will be marked by the blending of cookie profiling with sentimental analysis from social media to create clear actionable data on the state of the customer. Feedback collection will go beyond simple feedback forms, NPS and CSAT scores to a more data driven approach.

9. Multiplicity of customer experience management frameworks with increased focus on academic customer experience research.

Just like Colin Shaw expresses his surprise at the massive wealth of academic data on customer experience that does not get used. The question as to why this research remains untapped by practitioners is still a call for concern.

Academicians are beginning to delve more into customer experience research. Becker & Jaakkola posit that for the past decade, customer experience has enjoyed remarkable attention in both marketing practice and research. The increased academic call for research in customer experience has resulted in a dramatic increase in academic publications and significant advancements in scholarly understanding of customer experience.

Despite this abundance in research and publications and the conviction by business leaders that mastery of customer experience is key to competitiveness, most scholarly research is still unused in organisations. We forecast that there will be a major shift in the way in which the products of scholarly research in customer experience are used in development of new customer experience strategies and technologies.

We expect more corporate leaders to translate the products of academic research into actionable strategies for their firms. Consultancy firms will likely take the lead in this area. We also forecast a simplification of these publications to language that is easier for business by authors and bloggers.

10. Focus on digital skills as a key customer experience competence for employees.

As new technologies continue to evolve, the customer service function keeps changing rapidly. This has been accelerated by the 2020 health pandemic that has imposed the shift to the use of technologies throughout the supply chain. Irrespective of the industry the 2020 global health pandemic sent a strong message on the need to gain more digital skills if an employee must remain competitive in the job market.

We forecast that in 2021 allot of training and development will be geared towards preparing employees for digitalisation efforts and giving them competences to serve the digital customer.

Conclusion

These 10 customer service predictions for 2021 are not an exhaustive list of what we predict will shape customer service in 2021 but the most significant changes we forecast will happen. While their occurrence may be to a lesser or greater extent than forecasted, our team at CX Touchpoints Group continue to watch these trends accompany our partners and clients in their customer experience transformation efforts.

Editor: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy

Customer Experience Consultant & Author

Post-Covid-customer-experience

There shall be no return to normal: Focal points for the post-COVID customer experience strategy

Many people think that as soon as this crisis is over, they will rapidly return to life before COVID-19. Unfortunately, life after COVID-19 will not be the same. The COVID period is a harsh transformation period for all organizations. The very foundations on which the existing business strategies were developed have changed. This crisis has marked a sharp change in most business trends. It has changed customer values and expectations, necessitating new customer experience strategies in the post-COVID-19 era.

Drawing inspiration from publications and reports by some of the world’s most authoritative sources, this write up seeks to demonstrate the effect that COVID-19 has had on the economy, and propose a framework for post-COVID customer experience.

The impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

From December 2019 – 16th October 2020 the world has recorded 38,984,808 cases of COVID-19 with 1,099,184 deaths.  4,14% of corona cases have been reported from Africa, 31,1% from Asia, 47.4% from America, 17,1% from Europe (ECDPC, 2020).

COVID-19 has plunged the world economy into the worst recession in eight decades. While it is projected that growth will recover in 2021, the pace of the recovery is still very uncertain and will largely depend on the availability of a vaccine and the rate of improvements in trade and investments. (WBG, 2020). Some of the shocks on the global economy as revealed in an April 2020 world bank study include a 3% drop in unemployment below the base level, an increase of 25% in the cost of imports and exports in international trade, a sharp drop of 20-32% in international tourism, and a drop in household demand for services requiring closer human interactions by 15%.(WBG, 2020).

The global economy’s return to pre-COVID 19 level of activity remains prone to setbacks. The global growth is projected at –4,4% for 2020 and 5,2% for 2021. These trends imply high unemployment rates this year and next year for both emerging and advanced economies. It is projected that social distancing will continue into 2021 though it shall fade over time with improvements in treatment and the use of a vaccine. (IMF, 2020)

A September 2020 McKinsey Global Survey, however, suggests a positive shift in economic sentiment as executives are becoming more hopeful about the global economy and their company performance as things are slowly getting back under control compared to the perceptions at the start of the crises.

Focal points for post-COVID customer experience strategy

Given the amplitude of the disruptions COVID-19 has had on the economy, we really cannot talk of a return to normal anymore. Businesses would have to play by new rules, set new visions and review their current operational models. Some business trends that were forecasted before the crisis has accelerated due to the crisis while others have drastically slowed down. Three strategic post-COVID customer experience focal areas include: digital transformation, employee experience and reengineering customer touchpoints.

Digital Transformation

Accelerated by social distancing and the adoption of remote working, there could be no better time for engaging in digital transformation projects. The crisis has facilitated the acceptance of technologies which were resisted and ignored before. These new technologies have taught us an alternative way of holding meetings, working and learning.

Digital transformation has also greatly affected marketing processes. The lockdowns and social distancing have pushed people to connect more within online communities, changing drastically the ball game for marketing, and placing the digital marketer at the center of marketing efforts. This trend may not change after the crises and could become the new normal.

The increased online presence and shift to digital channels is reshaping e-commerce. This presents a great opportunity for technology companies. The spillover effect is also beneficial to organizations as these increased innovations and supply of digital services are leading to free and low cost access to digital services and technologies.

Many companies used this lockdown to transform their business models completely and now operate 100% virtual companies with employees working from home.

Employee Experience

Employees are increasingly working from home. Traveling and business trips are reducing, and there are major changes happening in the internal customer service environment. The approach to work is changing, the tools used for work are changing, the approach to service delivery is changing, workflows are being altered, the business operational guides are being adjusted, vacation scheduling is being reviewed and the dynamics that exert external influence on employees such as family, social groups and lifestyle are changing.

The employee is undergoing a 360 degree transformation and many will become obsolete due to the rapid and massive nature of the change.  New talent will evolve and new competencies will be needed. Many performance reviews may not happen in 2020, and for those that take place, many would not be based on the objectives that were set at the beginning of the year. This also means new performance trends will emerge.

The COVID global pandemic has made it easy to differentiate companies with great employee experience from those without it. The approach that has been used by the management of companies to sail through this crisis has shown where most companies stand when it comes to customer and employee care. Some companies have shown no care or responsibility for their workers during this pandemic. The effect on employee motivation and performance will show in the 2020 performance.

Employees are becoming more mindful of personal hygiene and expect the workplace to keep them safe. Companies need to put in place structures and equipment that ensure not only the hygiene of the customers but also that of employees.

With increased unemployment, shutdown of schools and other activities, the financial burden on workers has increased. Though they may be paid the same salary, much will be needed to keep them sufficiently motivated as their hierarchy of needs has changed. Employee access to health and safety is more valuable to them now.

Reengineering customer touchpoints

One evident consequence of the corona pandemic is a total disruption of existing customer journeys. A lot has changed about the customer persona: their taste, motivations, social groups, and preferred channels among others.

Companies need new data to create new user and customer personas. Organizations need to re-engineer their customer touchpoints. They must identify what has changed in the way customers interact with them, customer needs and expectations. Organizations need to design and deploy new customer experiences.

Organizations will need to review and identify changes that have happened in their operations and how these changes are affecting customers. They will need to review their customer touchpoints in order to understand which contact points have become pain-points and redefine their strategy. The new journey maps will be subjected to 3 dominant forces. Alignment to the World Health Organization’s recommendations, the organizational changes and the new customer needs.

Conclusion.

Certainly, we will overcome this pandemic but nothing will ever be the same again. The post-COVID economy will be one marked by deep-rooted changes that will affect even the vision and mission of most organizations. Leveraging on technology and customer experience management will be the new playground for competitive advantage. There shall be no return to normal. The new normal begins now.

By MBINKAR Kpunsa Fomunyuy |Author | Customer Experience Expert |

employee experience

How to improve Employee Experience

Employee experience is neglected and relegated to the background in many organizations. Think of a machine with several parts. For the machine to be fully operational and enable us to have the output we desire, all its parts need to be fully functional. Let us consider the case of a car. The tyres, the engines, the fuel pumps, and all other parts must be in good shape and fully functional for the car to take us around. While our desired output is great products and the delivery of good customer service, the employee is an integral part of the machine that needs to be fully functional for us to achieve this output.

Customer service is divided into two main parts. Internal customer service; which has to do mostly with employees and external customer service which focuses on buyers and users. Though so much emphasis has been put on external customer experience, internal customer experience is as important.

Why the increased concern about employee experience?

The following points explain why there is increased focus on customer experience nowadays:

  • Organizations now realize that ‘people’ are, a resource that needs to be valorized and not cost to be minimized.
  • Talent and people have become an important differentiating factor and a key tool to achieve a long-term competitive advantage.
  • The role of the corporate culture of an organization has never been this evident. Companies now recruit for culture fit, which makes the onboarding of new team members more delicate and priceless.
  • Teamwork and internal harmony are very vital for better collaboration at work and improved productivity.

Employee experience is about creating great working experiences for employees. Enabling employees to have career fulfillment and the needed motivation to get the job done. It is about treating the workers the same way you expect them to treat the customers. Seeing employees as the first customers, whom we need to listen to, give a feeling of importance to, and manage appropriately.

Ways of improving employee experience.

There are many ways of improving the working climate and ensuring that the organization achieves great employee experience. Some of these include:

1. Improving the onboarding experience

Just like our customers, employees also create first impressions about the organization from the way we onboard them. It all starts at the interview. Though you may have dozens of people going through the interviews, one of these people would end up working for you. What impressions do they have at this first contact with the organization? Can they read professionalism and friendliness? Their experience begins here and continues through the selection and recruitment process.

Once the employee is finally recruited, the next stage is to initiate them into the culture of the organization. Every organization needs to have a well-designed onboarding process that permits to create a great impression on the new employee and sets the pace for great working experience with the brand.

2. The employee journey map.

Just like customers have touchpoints (Contact points) with our organization which could become pain points, so too do employees. It is important to evaluate the key activities performed by employees, the ways in which employees have to interact with each other and improve employee journeys. Map out your employee journey and see what areas need your attention. How could you make their job better? In what way can you make them more productive? How can you enable them to enjoy doing the job and getting the desired outcome?

The job design, the organizational structures, the systems, and processes must enable performance, improve employee experience, and customer experience. Constantly review these journeys to minimize errors, and improve learning and efficiency.

3. The organizational behavior or culture

Organizational culture is the group of values, beliefs, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all members of an organization. Corporate culture is developed through time, organizations need to control these values, shape them, and guide them to the expected behaviors or responses. How do we expect every member of the organization to behave? How do we intend to position ourselves from a behavioral perspective?

This begins with management designing the behavioral positioning they would have to portray to the employees. Then how these employees need to behave towards customers. Management needs to set the pace by creating a culture of trust, support for one another, believe in one’s abilities, recognition of the valuable role each employee plays as a member of the team. This is about designing and implementing great corporate cultures that raise the employees’ confidence levels and motivation to work.

Part of this cultural experience could be communication styles. Does everyone have a voice? Do we listen to our employees? How do we manage their complaints and challenges? Clearly define these focal points in the design of the culture guide.

4. Motivation

At the end of the day, the employee is simply doing a job to earn a remuneration. This remuneration could be in monetary or non-monetary terms. Irrespective of the remuneration models used, the goal must be to keep the employee motivated to work. Employee motivation could take several forms. Learn what drives your workers. While some people are driven by financial gains others are driven by things like; family, recognition, social integration, belonging among others. Learn to appreciate colleagues for the things they do. Do not be the person who complains and criticizes all the times. Keep communication open and hassle-free with team members and respect your contractual agreements.

5. Team building

It is important to organize team-building sessions to remind everyone they are part of a team. To show them the important role they play as a team. To help team members know each other and experience their colleagues out of the work environment. These team-building sessions could range from corporate retreats, outdoor games, outings, and participating in team member’s important events. Teambuilding creates a good social bond and gives employees a second family. We spend more time with our colleagues at work than with our families and loved ones. Giving employees the possibilities to know, learn to trust one another, reduces tensions at work, improves performance, and overall employee experience.

While this is not an exhaustive list of strategies for improving employee experience or better still internal customer experience, these points constitute a good starting point. You cannot replicate people. Creating a strong team, that is motivated and guided by a well designed corporate culture is the ultimate step towards improved employee experience.

voice of the customer

Voice of the customer: collecting customer feedback.

Author: Mbinkar, Kpunsa Fomunyuy.

This article on the voice of the customer aims at defining what this term means, identifying was of collecting customer feedback and demonstrating a practical approach that can be used by organizations of any size to manage their voice of customer programs.

The products and services we produce are destined for use by the customer. One key function of the marketing manager is to identify customer needs and to ensure the products and services produced can meet these needs, then figure out how to communicate this value to the customers. This is important because when the products and services meet the customers’ expectations, they would be more likely to purchase and less likely to use competitive products. The only way to know if we were are able to achieve this objective is by gathering feedback from the customer. This is what we call listening to the voice of the customer.

Every organization needs to put in place a mechanism to capture the customer’s voice at the different contact points with the organization. Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time. Sometimes the customers’ remarks may not be of any value to one person or department but if we were to put all these remarks together we would begin to see patterns.

Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time.

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy

Every feedback given by the customer needs to be recorded and shared with a central organ in charge of reviewing it. The work does not however end here, it is important to summarize these opinions and see how they can serve in improving the overall customer experience or the ability of the products to meet customer needs or specifications.  

A good starting point in strategic feedback management would be to answer the following questions:

  • What do our customers think about us?
  • How can we make the service better?
  • Do we use feedback collected to improve processes and systems?
  • What can we do better?

What do our customers think about us?

There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers’ directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analyzing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.

From simple methods such as handing customers a feedback form, to verbal questions on how they feel about the service or following their comments on our forums or social media, every organization needs to figure out what the best method of collecting feedback from their customers can be. This method would depend on the type of services offered and the manner in which customers come in contact with your organization.

You and your team should be able to sit together and answer this question. How do we know what the customers think about us? Takedown the points raised and adopt your own customer service feedback strategy. Appoint someone who would be in charge of reviewing all feedback collected if such a person does not exist. Have weekly reports on the feedback from customers with empahsis on what has been done in each case. Contact customers to thank them for their feedback, notifying them of corrective actions that you are putting in place when negative feedback is given.

How can you make service better?

The purpose of collecting feedback is not just to know what the customer thinks about us, but for us to use this information to improve processes and tailor the products and services to customers’ needs. To make something better you must first know the state at which it is. Begin with internal feedback from internal customers (the employees, the suppliers) then go to the external feedback from users and buyers. Identify what customers feel you are not doing right and develop a strategy for improvement.

Do we use feedback collected (voice of the customer) to improve processes and systems?

When we learn to listen to the voice of the customer we would identify loopholes in our processes and systems. We would see that sometime the problem is the approach we are using. Sometimes we have great products but the wrong approach. Are our processes and systems designed to improve the experience customers have with us or to satisfy our work organization?

Can we honestly say that the step by step approach we use to serve customers is customer-centric? Do these processes make it tedious for customers to get our products and services? Do our processes make it tedious for customers to react and interact with us? For once, become the customer and walk through the process yourself, feel what they feel, then decide if that is what you want as a customer. Whatever feelings you would have, the customers’ feelings are definitely worst.

What can we do better?

At the end of the day, it is all about improving. Doing better. Offering a better experience to the customers. I would say here that you cannot get what you do not measure. Set clear objectives on why you need to listen to the voice of the customer. How you intend to do so. What you would do with the information obtained. Who would be in charge? How often would the team review the feedback collected and make a commitment to reach out to customers as well as take into consideration their voice while considering improvements to be made.

10 things every customer-centric organization must do as COVID-19 spreads

By: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunuyuy

The CDC describes Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. As the virus continues to spread outside China, it has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization. Many countries have thus taken preventive and curative measures to handle this global pandemic. The US has issued travel ban from Europe, India and Kuwait have suspended visas to all foreigners, Italy is locked down with permission needed to travel within the country, over 39 countries have already announced or implemented school or university closures and this affects business activities of thousands of companies in one way or the other. What therefore should be the response from a customer-centric organization?

  1. Show solidarity with the victims
  2. Join the health organizations in doing sensitization about the pandemic.
  3. Tell your customers how this can affect your company’s activities.
  4. Tell customers the preventive measures you will be taking.
  5. Put in place measures to protect your employees.
  6. Consider remote working options
  7. Divert your corporate social responsibilities efforts to fight the spread of the disease.
  8. Be careful with meetings and travel
  9. Disinfect your business venues & and respect health standards.
  10. Review your business procedures and adapt them to the crisis period

Let us look at these in greater detail:

  1. Show solidarity with the victims: This is the time to shift those marketing messages to messages of care and solidarity to the thousands of patients in this difficult moment. A customer-centric organization is one that truly understands their customer’s needs, their greatest preoccupations and their fears. One that stands with them in difficult moments. This creates an emotional connection with your brand.

A good example of such solidarity can be seen by LUSH offering free handwashing facilities to the public

A sign in the window of a Lush store in Liverpool offering a free hand wash service, source Bristol Post
A sign in the window of a Lush store in Liverpool offering a free hand wash service, source Bristol Post
  • Join in the sensitization about the pandemic: To reduce the spread of this pandemic a key factor is to reach everyone with the most useful information on how to remain safe. Use your media outlets and contact points to sensitize your customers on how to remain safe.
UBA Bank Sensitization flyer on symptoms of coronavirus
UBA Bank Sensitization flyer on symptoms of coronavirus    
BatStateU Integrated School student councils’ twitter sensitization on 7 preventive measures against COVID19
BatStateU Integrated School student councils’ twitter sensitization on 7 preventive measures against COVID19
  • Tell your customers how this can affect your company’s activities: You should not assume that everyone knows there is a problem and that they will understand if there are delays or cancellations. Set a task force to identify how this pandemic affects your industry as a whole and your organization in particular. Communicate to your customers how this can affect your activities and what measures you would be putting in place to overcome these challenges. Do not use the pandemic as a justification for poor service.
ShakeTastic’s notice to customers on the efforts they are making to contain the corona virus outbreak
ShakeTastic’s notice to customers on the efforts they are making to contain the corona virus outbreak
  • Tell the customers the preventive measures you will be taking: as already mentioned, identify what preventive measures you will be taking at each contact point with the organization to keep your customers safe, as well as up-to-date actions you are putting in place. This helps to calibrate their expectations and maintains their confidence in your business. It reassures your customers and avoids unnecessary panics that could shift the existing problem to other sectors.
Everyman Espresso notifies customers on hygienic actions to fight corona virus
Everyman Espresso notifies customers on hygienic actions to fight corona virus
  • Put in place measures to protect your employees:  Your internal customers’ health is also a major concern. Reducing their exposure to risk without compromising the delivery of services is very important. Evaluate the risk your team is exposed to and define strategies to mitigate these risks. Clearly communicate these risk areas and how you expect the team to respond to it. You must do this even if your organization is not in an affected zone, this preventive measure is fundamental in building rapport with your team and improving internal customer experience.
Notice on no handshake zone, to protect employees at Los Angeles International Airport.
Notice on no handshake zone, to protect employees at Los Angeles International Airport.
Source US Today / Frederic J. Brown
  • Consider remote working options: Do a business management assessment of what can be done in the office and what can possibly be done from home. Give your team members in affected zones the possibility to work from home, the possibility to stay away from work if they fall sick. This should be a priority in high-risk zones and a factor to be considered in low-risk zones as it is not clear where the virus will be next.
Hypernode takes on remote working as a COVID 19 protection measure
Hypernode takes on remote working as a COVID 19 protection measure
  • Divert your corporate social responsibilities efforts to fight the spread of the disease: Thousands of health workers risk their lives every day, millions of people could be safer if they had certain facilities in place. Research laboratories need funding as they all put hands on deck to find a cure and a vaccine. This could be a great area to divert your company’s corporate social responsibility.
Comment from Facebook health department on measures Facebook is taking to fight the COVID 19 virus.
Comment from Facebook health department on measures Facebook is taking to fight the COVID 19 virus.  Source Facebook
Mark Zukerberg on solidarity response fundraiser for WHO  to fight the COVID 19 virus.
Mark Zukerberg on solidarity response fundraiser for WHO  to fight the COVID 19 virus.  Source Facebook
  • Be careful with meetings and travel. Truly review your work models and see which meetings can go virtual, which movements could be postponed, which events could be postponed. Reduce the risk of exposure of your team and your customers by reducing meetings and travel as much as possible depending on the risk level of the zone in which you are located.
Oxford United FC postpones matches for COVID-19 health concerns
Oxford United FC postpones matches for COVID-19 health concerns
  • Disinfect your business venues & demonstrate the standards: get help from health practitioners on the right chemicals and cleaning materials to keep your surfaces and offices clean and protected as much as possible. There is a need for awareness on how to manage public areas and how to orientate customers to avoid contact with risky surfaces.
Delta airlines expand their cleaning processes to include a fogging procedure that disinfects surface areas that are often touched in the aircraft.
Delta airlines expand their cleaning processes to include a fogging procedure that disinfects surface areas that are often touched in the aircraft.  Source Delta Airlines
  1. Review your business procedures and adapt them to the crisis period: one key factor about customer centricity is to constantly remodel your business to focus on improved customer experience. What temporal measure do you need to take to keep your team and customers safe? What procedures do you need to modify to make the workplace safer?
Red River co-op food store notifies customers on new rationing policies due to COVID19
Red River co-op food store notifies customers on new rationing policies due to COVID19
Verizon waives late fee for customers and small businesses disrupted by COVID 19
Verizon waives late fee for customers and small businesses disrupted by COVID 19

All businesses exist to serve customers, today the world is fighting the COVID-19, and this is not some strange virus that only affects others. It affects you and it affects your customers. These guidelines will help you approach the virus more professionally and maintain the best customer service standards.

Guide to customer expectations

Guide to Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are the desires or anticipations customers have about a brand when interacting with it. It is the anticipated outcome of the interaction. The secret of providing great service lies in the ability to understand and respond to customer expectations. When we do not know our customers, we fail to meet up to their expectations. In this article, you will understand customers’ expectations and what shapes their attitudes. To begin with, let us look at the dimensions of customer engagements.

5 Dimensions of customer Expectations

A Texas A&M University study categorizes customer expectations into five dimensions: reliability, tangibles, responsiveness, assurance and empathy.

  • Reliability: Customers expect you to perform the promised service accurately and dependably. They want to see you do what you say you do. They expect the product will perform as you have said it performs.
  • Tangibles: Customers want inviting and good looking physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materials.
  • Responsiveness: your firms’ willingness to be of assistance to the customer and provide prompt service.
  • Assurance: Your employees’ ability to convey trust and confidence and their knowledge about the products or services.
  • Empathy: The individualized attention provided to them and demonstrations that you feel for them.

We can thus observe that customers have very basic expectations. It is not about the magic investments it is about the magic moments the customers spend with your brand. With the advent of the internet and growth in technologies, customer expectations are also evolving.

4 New customer Expectations

A Salesforce research on understanding customer expectations reveals that, todays customers expect:

  • Connected Journeys: Customers are expecting more connected journeys. Making it necessary for companies to eliminate bottleneck processes and breakdown silos.
  • Personalization: Customers expect more personalization of products and services to meet their very specific needs.
  • Innovation: Customers want to deal with innovative companies, expect product development, and appreciate those embracing new technologies.
  • Data protection: Customers expect their data to be protected and their privacy assured.
4 New Customer Expectations

These new trends which are typical of the digital age in which we live, permit to significantly improve online user experience. It will be necessary to know if customer expectations are absolute or variable. To better explain this concept let us look at the zone of tolerance.

Zone of Tolerance in customer Expectations

The zone of tolerance represents the range of service performance that a customer considers satisfactory. It is important to recognize your ability to manage your customers’ tolerance, and therefore satisfaction and dissatisfaction, through transactions. The zone of tolerance is the difference between customers’ expectations regarding their desired service and the minimum level of acceptable service.

The acceptable service can be considered as the lower level of what they expect to receive and the desired service is the higher level of their expectation. The target of the organization should be to deliver a level of service superior to the zone of tolerance.

When the organization exceeds the zone of tolerance, they are offering a service beyond the customers’ expectations and this creates a “wow” effect. It is therefore important for the organization to do an audit of the things they must do to have the minimum level of acceptable service. To achieve this it will be good to look at the factors that shape these expectations so as know how to manage them.

The 7 major factors that shape customer Expectations

Some of the major factors that shape the customers’ expectations are the corporate promise, the price, the marketing, the customer’s mood/attitude, alternatives, Comments from others, and education. 

The Corporate promise

Looking at adverts today, we realize that, instead of showing the characteristics of the product, marketers try to patronize the customers, build a passion for the product and apply to the cognitive faculties of customers. These adverts, corporate logos, slogans, utterances of CEOs, create a certain expectation in customers.

When an event planner says ‘your one-stop wedding shop’ the buyer entering this shop expects to find everything linked to the wedding.  Customers tend to judge the organizations from the promise the enterprise has made.

Customers measure the services in function of what the enterprise has promised. Most customers are unsatisfied because they feel the enterprise has not kept the promise. Corporate staff who promise to resolve a problem within one week should do so, and in case of inability, call the customer to report the status of the problem.

The publicity made by the enterprise, slogans on its magazine and websites should be tailored to the internal processes. All workers must know the promises the enterprise has made because it is binding on them and would constitute the measuring rod for the services offered.

The corporate promise must be internalized into the culture of the organization. The first consumer of the adverts of the firm should be its internal customers. They must be aware of the promises being made and their role in delivering this promise.

The price charged

Price is a key element of the marketing mix. Price can be determined in several ways. One of the common methods consists of determining the psychological price. This is the price the greater number of buyers are willing to pay.  Some other organizations would set the price either based on the profit they want to make or the cost of the goods they need to cover.

The higher the price the higher the expectations the customer would have about the quality of the product or service. However low prices are not considered to be a guarantee of poor service. A high fee charged by a lawyer, doctor, or consultant for consultations determines the degree of attention the customer would be expecting to receive.

Customers pay the price; so they expect an equivalent or higher service to what they are paying. The price should therefore be more than or proportionate to the service offered. Customers would expect an increase in quality for every extra fee charged.

Comments and recommendations and reviews

Today customers read the reviews before they buy. People’s reviews will tell you about their experience and this shapes your expectations.

When someone else talks about you the effect is different.  More people would believe if your story is told by another person. Comments, word of mouth, reviews and recommendations play a very strong role.

One way organizations could encourage customers to talk about how their experiences have been or recommend them is by promoting word of mouth. Word of mouth is very strong and gives the customer a first impression of the products or services.

While positive reviews are an indication of good experience, it is also professional to leave the negative reviews, correct them, and comment on the organization’s corrective measures undertaken. This is another way to build trust.

Alternatives

How do customers perceive our products, among other products? Do they compare us with others?  Most customers have seen, appreciated, or consumed similar products elsewhere. They thus tend to compare the service between organizations. Sometimes much effort is put to satisfy customers, but because these same customers have had better experiences elsewhere they tend not to appreciate the service received.

It is important to know the customer in order to better manage their expectations. Some customers may even know the product better than you, making it very difficult to impress them with a good presentation.

To better manage this, organizations must always perform a competitive analysis of their products and share with their teams how the organization’s products stand out from the rest.  Knowing the competition permits you to know where you have a competitive advantage, and thus have an idea of the customers’ expectations about your brand.

Customer’s mood

The customer as already mentioned is a social being whose character changes and whose mood is not the same all the time.  We should not conclude that the customer will be calm and comprehensive just because they were nice the last time. You must be able to read the customer’s mood each time. It is recommended to always start the interaction with a mood breaker. A mood breaker could be a joke, a small story, a comment, or a compliment.

We must learn how to give an appropriate compliment without necessarily flattering the customer. Customers love being appreciated and valorized and this when done can improve their mode.

The customer’s mood has a direct effect on their purchase behavior and subsequently their satisfaction. Happy customers have a higher probability to purchase. They make the purchase decision faster. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).

Level of education

Intellectuals tend to be more confident and feel too much detail is boring. Whereas persons of low educational levels tend to question more and require more information before making a choice. You should understand that people have different temperaments and IQs. Do not show off your knowledge or have a low impression of others. People would get very offended when you make them look inferior.

Conclusion

The customer always has an expectation. At every interaction with the customer, make sure the customer leaves impressed. Every interaction is an opportunity to sell both the products of the organization and its image. When you know the customers’ expectations, you are able to deliver superior services. When you cannot determine the expectations still deliver a great service that would at least exceed their acceptable service levels.

Now that you know what customers expect, the level of the expectations, and factors that affect the customers’ expectations it will be important to develop a strategy to manage your customers’ expectations. What we will suggest is:

  • Deliver what you promise.
  • Make your interaction environment inviting.
  • Be ready to assist at all times.
  • Know your products.
  • Remember at all times they are humans with feelings.
  • Create Omnichannel experiences.
  • Show what is in it for them.
  • Make it better every time.
  • Protect their data.
  • Know that for every penny you charge they expect something extra.
  • Know that they value the reviews they read about you.
  • Be sure you know what competition does for they know.
  • They could just have had a bad day, be nice!

The video below from Marketing 360 gives more insights on why we should manage customer expectations.

Never tell a customer “how can I help you?”

Help! Are you kidding me? It is amazing how things have changed and how customer’ needs are evolving. Customer Experience is very much influences customer buying behavior. Customer buying behavior is influenced by small sensitive things that have nothing to do with the technical attributes of products. Today the f eel of the purchase environment and the warmth of the sales persons play an important role in buying behavior..

How can you ask a customer “How can i help you”. The word “help” puts you in the position of strength and the customer in the position of weakness. To help sounds like you are the hero, the solution and the customer the victim. Interesting right!

What is the right thing to say?  You should ask the customer “how you may assist them” as this puts you in the position of service and reechoes the notion of the customer as the king. Businesses are born to meet customer needs and customer centric organizations can achieve this corporate goal through a delightful customer experience.

Positive Language is key

This customer experience trend must be able to echo through all services from the public sector, down to hospitals, schools and businesses. There is this general conception that customer service in developing countries is for Businesses. In this information age, poor service is easily shared and condemned. Positive language has to be considered as a way of life and an integral part of every profession. Expressions like “no”, “I don’t know” must give way to responses like “this is what i will do about it”.

Words have power

Words have power and the power of words is the charm of sales. Today the sales person has to be able to create lasting relationships with customers. This means creating value for the customers and in return value for the firm. You have to use words that bring your customers back; you have to use words that make your customers feel right.

This is the way forward:

1.      Always appreciate your customers genuinely.

This begins with your colleagues. Which words do you use on your colleagues? and are they the same words you would love them to use on you. Learn to appreciate what they do. Begin seeing the little things they did right and not focusing on what they did wrong. Appreciation heals. Appreciation creates real bonds and builds trust.

2.      Never condemn or complain.

No one likes being condemned. It is very easy to complain and condemn others. It is easy to point out faults in others because its easy to see them. I am not asking you never to point out the mistakes. the advice is to do so constructively.

A customer service expert is one who masters the use of positive language. Words that heal, Words that create bonds, and Words that nurse loyalty. Great words win the heart and make the sale. A customer service professional must be able to create a bridge between the heart of the company and the heart of the customer through strong positive words.

Predictive Data Analytics the Future of the Customer Service Industry

The Customer service industry is one of the fastest growing industries in modern business. This could be explained by two main concepts:

  1. The fact that business leaders are beginning to see how much profits they could consolidate through an efficient loyalty program, that pushes repeat purchase and reduces churn rates.
  2. The growth in technologies which permits to better manage queues, obtain feedback faster and improve on the customer experience at touch points.

The increased use of Customer Relationship management(CRM) software has provided companies with greater insights and more visibility on their clients. CRM paves the way to more complex Predictive and Data Analytics software.

Now it is possible for a bank to know that a customer will need a loan even before he/she shows up for one, it is possible for a Telecom firm to know the customers preferences and ability to subscribe for products and services even before they show up. Now it is possible to know a customer is about to terminate his/her relationship with us and avoid such termination before it happens.

Now companies can take smarter decisions not only because of the intellectual and emotional quotients of their staff. But also through the aid of predictions made from customer behaviour and preferences.

As more and more companies are adopting these technologies, there is need for the skill set to manage it. Technology is taking a central role in customer experience management and explains the increasing need for Data Analyst in Corporations.

Though many multinationals are conscious of this and are shifting investments towards digital platforms and data analytics software, many firms still believe in traditional models and continue to over burden front line staff allot of manual work, rendering them less and less productive.

For more efficiency, front line staff no longer need only customer service competencies, but also ability to use CRMs and enter all basic data obtained from customers. Front line staff are contact points and could be able to obtain the highest information during sales. They must be able to engage constructive and professional discussions that feed the CRM with detailed information.

The customer service industry is growing at a geometric rate, the more data we have on our clients during interactions at touch points, the higher the ability to exceed the customers expectations. Predictive data Analytics is taking the central stage and becoming a topical trend in the customer experience industry.

Customer Intimacy : The greatest business secret

To achieve sustainable market shares, companies must embrace a competitive strategy. Treacy, M. & Fred Wiersma, F (2017) describe 3 competitive strategies to be used; operational excellencecustomer intimacy and product leadership.

A customer intimate company provides superior value by clearly segmenting its markets and fine tuning its products or services to exactly meet the needs of targeted customers. Such a company focuses on satisfying unique customer needs by establishing close relationship with and intimate knowledge of the customer. Empowering its people to respond quickly to customer needs. Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). 

Today in some business units the customers are mere numbers, in some hospitals patients are called by their bed numbers. Is your customer nothing beyond a telephone number, or customer ID? Do we know our customers by their names? Do we go beyond business relations to know the customer for whom they are and go an extra mile to personalize the transaction?

Many corporations have a KYC (Know your Customer) sheet. To some staff KYC is just part of the procedure to be fulfilled and nothing more. Other give the customer the KYC to fill and never look at it.

Do we really know our customers, do we know their preferences?

Remember that customers have needs. One characteristic of needs is that they are heterogeneous. Two people may request for the same product or the same service but this will be used to satisfy separate needs. The winning sales person is he who goes beyond the product and service to focuses on satisfying the customers’ needs.

One who engages in strong professional relationships with the customers. Staff who are customer intimate are generally better sales persons as they drive more repeat sales and can also advise the customers on the best products.

Customers need to know we can meet their needs. They want to trust you. They want to feel comfortable dealing with you, they want to feel understood, they want to feel important. Building strong customer relationships is the first step to meeting these basic customer needs.

Management teams that only focus on procedures and policies and do not give credit to staff that thrill customers with positive relationships are definitely on the wrong track.

We must learn to build customer intimate businesses, we must learn to become customer intimate staffs and we will be able to move from sales persons to customer opinion leaders. We do not sell products and services; we sell promises of satisfaction. We do not interact with customers, we relate with them.

References

Treacy, M. & Wiersma, F. (1997). The discipline of market leaders: choose your customers, narrow your focus, dominate your market. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). Principles of marketing. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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