We are all looking for the ROI in every part and program of our business. There is no room in our leaner, recovering economy for waste and that means that each part of your business strategy must not only make sense, but bring organizational value as well.
Now that becomes the real trick - measuring that value and allocating budget based on potential results.
It's the "so what" factor - why should you, as a leader, care about things like customer experience, employee training, and leadership development. In many organizations these are seen as soft skills, and let's face it, are cut from the program during challenging economic times.
Anyone who has worked for large organizations knows that travel, training, and customer enhancements are the first line items to be axed when the bottom line is in peril. If you work for a publicly traded entity, you know that even the hint of potential shortfalls is enough to prompt a burn-the-furniture mentality.
That brings us to today. I have spent many years leading customer experience and training organizations within major companies and many have done just that with their CX and Training departments.
I challenge those companies who trimmed back their CX and training leadership during these times - This kind of thinking is a bit short-sighted. I am all for doing what you need to do to remain viable during turmoil, but any organization that released their CX leadership during this time should question their customer commitment - and their customers should do the same.
Never forget that passionate Customer Experience Professionals are the heart of your organization and the voice of the customer in the every room they are in.
This is a two way street though. Companies should demand impact and results from their customer experience leadership. Whether they functionally sit within Sales, Growth, HR, or Marketing, they have to deliver value.
Your CX team should masterfully connect your customer experience strategy to both your customer needs and your company culture. They should ensure that organizationally there is buy in for the program - and that includes winning the hearts, minds, and wallets of the c-suite.
Whether you have a Chief Experience Officer, Director of Customer Experience, or Vice President of Customer Service, they should neatly combine the art, science, and data of CX. There should be a lot of heart, but you need the numbers and KPIs to paint a full story.
So why does CX matter? Here are the three reasons you shouldn't ignore.
Happy Customers Spend More
According to American Express that number could be 17% more. This is the stat that gets most people interested, so let's dig in on this.
First, let's get the pragmatic out of the way, if you frustrate your customers, make things difficult, or don't have the right products or services to meet their needs, they will go someplace else. Great customer service organizations are famous also for tremendous execution and process. If you've ever been to a Disney theme park, you know that it is spotless and well stocked. They have plenty of plush Mickey Mouse toys to sell and they are well positioned to pique curiosity. Have you ever dined at a Chick-Fil-A that is out of lemonade or chicken? Conversely there are many examples of other quick service restaurants that launched a new chicken sandwich or tenders that had long stretches of out-of-stocks.
Aside from having products available in a pleasing environment, your customer experience strategy and training can impact your sales results. There is an opportunity during every service moment to gain upsell or add on items. I don't know about you, but I often do "want fries with that" or want to "supersize my combo." This has true top line potential, but shockingly many organizations haven't integrated this into their steps of service or employee behaviors.
The opportunity here is to inspire your team to think about what customers need to enhance their experience. It can't just be about nickels in the till, it has to be about improving the lives of customers and helping them have what they need. This means that contact center agents understand how to anticipate customer needs and then suggest the right items at the right times. It is about training cashiers to use empathy to consider what customers might need next.
The final nugget here is around simplicity. When you make things easy for customers they are less likely to consider competitors and do business with you. That's right, you are really attempting to make it easier to do business with you than to switch to a competitor. Innately customers and clients don't want to change, because that takes work - but they will if you frustrate them, don't have what they need, or make the process too hard.
Engaged Customers Recommend You To Their Networks
We trust recommendations from people we know. It's just that simple. So cultivating customers and clients who will recommend you to others is good business. It also comes back to the level of service they receive and how well you understand and communicate with your customers.
You only need to dive into your Facebook feed to see the number of folks asking for recommendation. What should captivate your imagination most is that your network is probably looking for referrals for everything from gardening services to mindful goat yoga - and think about the power of a satisfied customer tossing your name into the conversation.
We trust those we know and their recommendations carry more weight than any advertising campaign ever could. Which means your CX program and front line teams are the face and voice of your business.
Nielson reports that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations from friends and family above all other forms adverting.
This is a staggering number, but probably not surprising. The question is why you aren't putting more time, effort, and budget into selecting and training highly performing teams. When you execute at a high level, that is the calling card that can (and will) lead to increased positive reviews and increased sales.
This is why creating an engaged customer base is so key - they become a mobilized salesforce for your brand and will both recommend you to those in their networks, but also defend you if someone says (or more likely posts) something negative about your brand.
Keeping Customers and Clients is More Cost Effective Than Acquiring New Ones
The cost of customer and client acquisition is astounding. When you consider the expense of maintaining even an organic marketing campaign, much less wading into the money sucking quagmire of paid ads, you will quickly see why retaining customers is the most cost effective play.
This makes daily execution and value for your customers and clients a key part of your retention process.
For day-to-day customers this is about helping them solve problems in a fast, efficient, and cost effective manner. They are hungry, sick, need to travel, or find a place to sleep. If you are a restaurant, hospital, airline, or hotel you can help. Whatever problem your customers have, how you solve it matters. Do so with efficiency, value, hospitality, and gratitude - and you'll find that your customers come back for more.
You may also have long term clients who depend on you for certain products and services over time - but don't fool yourself into thinking they are particularly loyal. Remember loyalty is the sum of how well you are doing on any given day and how difficult it would be to trade you out for someone cheaper and better. That means not only executing at a high level, but ensuring you are reminding your clients of the value you bring each day and not depending on them to recognize or remember it on their own.
Even retention has financial pain points if you are in a fight to keep a current client where you have had executional or service issues. If you end up in a cage fight to keep business, likely you will experience significant retention costs, concessions, and rate compression to keep the business. Often this is as bad as not retaining business since that will mean the business isn't as profitable as before, which can drive a wedge between a partnership.
As you consider your team execution and your CX strategy as growth enabler, marketing campaign, and retention play, this should bring the need to excel into sharp focus.
You will need to turn up the volume on your customer experience strategy, tactics, and training as the economy evolves and rebounds. This represents particular opportunity to those with the courage to do more as many choose to do less for their customers, clients, and guests.
Doing so now will show your commitment to those you serve in a market that is lagging more than ever in hospitality and execution. Choose to double down on customer experience and win their loyalty before the rest of the world catches up.
That will make them feel like they are at the center of everything you do.
Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer Experience Speaker | Author |Trainer | Consultant 606.356.7447 FREE RESOURCES AND TRAINING TOOLS WEB - TWITTER - FACEBOOK - YOUTUBE - INSTAGRAM - LINKEDIN - PODCAST - CALENDAR Improve Your Customer Service with my Book: TOGETHER WE SERVE: Four Proven Strategies to Create Winning Experiences for Your Guests and Your Tea. Click to Purchase on Amazon.com