Improving the Customer's Experience and Loyalty: 4 Dynamic and Proven Steps

Rick Conlow
January 24, 2012 — 1,152 views  
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Who hasn't been served by a crabby customer service representative lately? It's almost as if we expect lousy service and so we do little about it. Research shows that 82% of the reasons customers leave is because of discourteous rude employees and the inept handling of problems. What can a company do today to begin to change this?

Companies today have customer loyalty issues because their employees don't like their jobs. Too many employees are treated poorly and aren't trained effectively. Too many companies treat their employees like commodities easily traded or replaced. Yet, because of this companies are literally driving customers away through their employees. And, they blame their poor business results on the economy. Note the statistics and the sad state of the American workplace.

  • 50% of employees say that their managers fail to make them feel valued and important.
  • 50% of employee time is idle and they do no work.
  • 55% of employees are unsatisfied with their jobs.
  • 65% of employees say they weren't recognized at all last year.
  • 77% of employees say they are looking for another job.
  • 80% of employees say they get no respect at work.
  • 75-80% of the workforce are disengaged and not committed to the company's goals.
  • 88% of employees say they don't get enough recognition or acknowledgement at work.

So what can a company do?

Wake up! Know the bottom-line numbers. Understand that leadership engagement leads to employee engagement leads to customer engagement. Your company's leadership team will have to change to inspire and develop more effective managers and employees. Highly effective leadership can transform employees from paid mercenaries to spirited patriots. It begins at the top and carries through the whole company. The reason for the abysmal statistics above is that managers at all levels in the organization are not doing their jobs successfully enough.

What's the payoff if you improve your leader's effectiveness and make this transformation in your work culture? Note the bottom-line impact below.

    1. The Employee-Customer-Profit Chain from Harvard Business Review shows, a 5 point improvement in employee engagement scores leads to a 1.3% improvement in customer satisfaction scores. This produces a.5% improvement in sales.

    1. The Profit Impact of Market Strategy report found that companies who lead in service, charge 9% more, gain 8% in market share, have 12x the profitability and 9% greater growth than poor service providers.

    1. An American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) study proved that the leading companies consistently outperformed the market by considerable margins. ACSI leading companies outperformed the Dow by 93%, the Fortune 500 by 20% and the NASDAQ by 335%.

  1. Service Management Group, of Kansas City, who conducts over 28 million customer surveys a year, has discovered that businesses with higher customer satisfaction have higher comp sales growth. Having a loyal customer base drives top line comp sales. Businesses with the lowest "recommend scores"average comp store sales growth of 0.3 % compared to those at the highest end of the range, which grow at an average of 4% or more.

Improve the Customer's Experience: 4 Dynamic and Proven Steps

Leaders in small and large businesses, too, need to teach all employees to learn how to courteously help customers, how do deal with problems and how to go the extra mile. These are basic customer service skills that aren't a given much attention today. Business leaders can enact four dynamic and proven customer experience management strategies that will begin to help almost immediately:

Plan- Analyze customer feedback and plan specifically how you want your customers be treated. Don't leave it to chance. Make sure to benchmark excellence. Establish standards, measure your customer satisfaction real-time and report it to all managers and employees for review. Make sure each manager knows the company's customer service results and has a focused two page plan for continuous improvement. This plan needs to be executed daily, and updated quarterly. For example, through effective planning at all chain locations, a retail organization is beating Wal-Mart head to head.

Train- Develop employees' service knowledge, attitudes, skill and habits through simulation, group discussion and role-play in key service competencies. Then do it again and again. This needs to be done consistently over time to really work. Depending on the business this means weekly to quarterly. Conduct "train the trainer" for operational managers so can deliver needed training in a regular and timely manner. This will build their commitment to on-going improvement. For example, using weekly service and sales training sessions with employees, a services company increase results to existing customers to all time highs.

Coach- All employees can use coaching to increase performance. Most employees feel they are performing better than they are while most could significantly improve their performance. Effective coaching will empower employees to serve customers better. Execute this at all levels in the organization, including for managers. To create meaningful improvement you need a culture throughout the company that "lives and breathes" customer engagement. For example, after implementing weekly one on one coaching sessions, a private company improved sales 52% at locations from coast to coast.

Renew - If you want a more profitable business revitalize your team regularly to change the pace, add some fun and keep them challenged. Use creativity to enliven the approach with social activities, team activities and competitive activities. For example, a Canadian company instituted a fourth quarter challenge to retain and gain accounts and jumped revenue 30%.

When you put all four of these together and sustain it throughout a year and over a few years, the bottom-line impact is truly astounding. Most managers won't know how to do the details of what's described in this article, and will need on-going support, guidance, coaching and training to achieve positive results. Why? First, because they haven't been educated to do it. Second, with their multiple priorities and lean staff they will lack focus and time to get it done consistently and with quality. Nearly all companies need outside expertise to accomplish the goal of significantly improving their customer's experience and retention.

If you want greater customer loyalty prepare your leaders and employees better. This means the CEO, business owner or the manager needs to learn more effective service leadership strategies. With passion and consistency in applying these four simple but dynamic and inter-related strategies, you can dramatically improve your business results. Why? Your business will build a reputation for being uncommonly friendly and customer centric in its processes. Your revenue and profits will grow faster than your competition. You will succeed as a leader.

 

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Rick Conlow

WCW Partners

Rick Conlow is CEO with WCW Partners a management consulting and training firm. He has helped organizations increase sales 218%, improve repeat and referral business by 20%, increase customer retention to 99%, reduce complaints by 60% and achieve 34 quality awards. You can reach Rick at: [email protected] or 888-313-0514.