13/08/2014 - 05:06

Embrace a customer-driven culture

13/08/2014 - 05:06

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Do you and your staff make it easy for customers, and prospective customers, to do business with you?

Embrace a customer-driven culture
WORK CULTURE: Customers typically respond positively when they encounter a responsive, supportive work environment.

Attracting customers is always a major focus for businesses, and an even greater challenge in the current economic climate.Many organisations are adopting new marketing strategies, rebranding or even reinventing themselves to find the magic pill that will boost business.

For business owners who find themselves in this situation it's worth considering the view from the other side of the counter, and asking a very basic question: How much effort does it take your customers to do business with you?

The Harvard Business Review study 'Stop trying to delight your customers' discusses how organisations should strive to remove barriers and obstacles for customers, to make it easier for them to do business.

The study reveals that customer service failures not only drive existing customers away, they can also repel prospective ones. It also found that most customers encounter loyalty-eroding problems when they engage with customer service department.

Key statistics from the research revealed that 59 per cent of customers reported expending moderate-to-high effort to resolve an issue, while 62 per cent reported having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue.

Research undertaken last year by Lee Resources found that while 80 per cent of companies claim their customer service ranks 'superior', only 8 per cent of their customers agree.

These statistics show just how important it is for organisations to identify what their customers are experiencing, and to see the customer experience as a crucial element of their marketing plan. Developing and embedding a customer-driven culture into your organisation will make it easier to keep your brand promise to your customers at each and every touch point. Keeping your promise will instil trust in your customers, creating happier customers who will tell others.

Developing a customer-driven culture

• Assess

A great place to start is to commission a customer experience consultant to mystery shop your organisation, and assess your current customer experience. They will look at each touch point at every step of your customer journey and provide a measure of where you are now, so that you can figure out what you need to do, to get where you want to be.

• Ask

Your customers are your most effective source of feedback, and your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Ensure your people always ask for, and gratefully accept, customer feedback. Develop a process for the feedback to be passed through to a specialised area, where the customer experience issues can be identified.

• Customise

To bridge the gap between your brand promise and your customer experience, have a customised training plan developed to address the customer experience issues at all levels of your organisation.

• Action

Take action on your plan and keep your focus on the target. Tony Allesandra, author of People Smart and 26 other books in the field of sales and marketing, says if you aim at nothing you'll hit it with amazing accuracy.

Organisational culture

To ensure your new customer-driven culture stays top of mind, you will need to embed it well into your organisational procedures.

· Create behaviours

Behaviours breed in organisations. Create a series of positive behaviours and make it the rule rather than the exception. Simple behaviours can include using positive vocabulary and thoughtful speech, and seeing opportunities rather than obstacles. Author and behavioural scientist, Allan Parker, says that simple words such as 'thank you' and 'please' have a high leverage impact because people respond well to praise. Make it part of your people's everyday culture, and their behaviour will naturally transfer to their interactions with customers.

· Measure and monitor

You can't improve what you don't measure. Regular mystery shopper visits and phone calls throughout the process will become a litmus test to measure and monitor the standards, so you can address any gaps and maintain a high level of customer experience.

· Be the change

Positive behaviour starts at the top, so ensure that management sets the example to your people. You can't expect your people to change their behaviours if they see management exhibiting negative behaviours. If you are serious about change, management should join the training sessions to help increase staff morale and show that everyone can learn something.

· Share ideas and insights

Hold regular staff meetings to embed the learning by sharing ideas and insights. Make them fun and engage everyone, to show that you value each and every employee's ideas and opinions, no matter what their level in the organisation. Reward your people with monthly awards, lunches and other incentives, to keep them on track.

Now more than ever, customer is king. If your customers feel you don't care about them, they will find someone who does; and that will most likely be your competitor.

 

Ava LucanusCustomer experience specialist

Edge Communication

ava@edgecommunication.com.au

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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