This week I take a break from the CX Maturity Series to think about how the holiday season can inspire us all. The quintessential Christmas story, in my opinion, is A Christmas Carol and comes with a significant message of hope and change.
The core of this story is the relationship with Scrooge and his three late night visitors. The ghosts were the vehicle that advanced the story and helped fuel Scrooge’s redemption.
As you march your organization into the new year, you must take stock of the present, and look forward simultaneously, if you are to find success in the new decade.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
When you look back on your history - not just the last quarter or year - what themes emerged and what did you learn? You cannot be an organization that is either too enamored with (or too hesitant to analyze) what came before. This means not only taking a look at sales trends and policies, but your customer feedback as well.
When you think about ensuring a meaningful customer connection into the future, there is no better way to begin than by listening. Your voice of the customer and your listening posts are an amazing source of learning. Too often businesses don't take the time to connect the dots with this information, so all the data collection goes for nothing. You likely hear your customers through formal surveys, informal conversations, emails, calls, live chat, texting, and forms they submit online.
That's a lot of data to collate and even more to act upon. Be sure you are connecting back to tangible actions and making decisions based on this wealth of information. Ensure you are communicating trends openly and engaging everyone in crafting solutions.
This is also a great time to reinforce your company history, values, and culture. You should always connect your teams to your organization and where it came from - but don't let the status quo remain just because you've always done things a certain way. Learn from what has worked (and what hasn't) and be prepared to plot a course forward.
"You can't allow tradition to get in the way of innovation. There's a need to respect the past, but it's a mistake to revere your past." -Bob Iger
The Ghost of Christmas Present
This is the time to put a pin in the map and say "we are here." What is the current state of your organization and the maturity of your service model?
This ghost may have been the most impactful on Scrooge and I urge you to stop and take stock. This is where you bring all that listening we discussed above and start to put it to good use.
This is also a time to determine where you with technology, training, and employee engagement? What is your team saying and what ideas do they have? Are you engaging them in a meaningful way that ignites their passion for service? When you inspire your team and connect them back to their customer's wins and needs, it coaxes even more discretionary effort from their performance.
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Also keep in mind that this is the perfect time to ensure you have a people-focused philosophy when it comes to service. This means looking at everything from policies to technology to make sure it provides ease of use and keeps the customer in mind. Too often technology becomes a friction point rather than a useful tool within the customer journey. Add to that rules, policies, and processes designed to make employee's jobs easier rather than contributing to customer success, and you have potential touch-points that drive customers away rather than engender loyalty.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
What's next? That's the question every organization has on its mind as the holidays approach and the year wains. If this is what is keeping you up at night, then know you are in good company because everyone is focused on the same thing.
Next week I'll be sharing my 2020 edition with trends driving the next 12 months, but this seems like a great time to give a sneak peek. There are some absolute non-negotiables that organizations are spot-lighting and that will continue to drive customer return visits and sales growth.
The first is the continued drive for personalization. If you've ever listened to anyone order dinner at a restaurant lately, it becomes obvious that everyone has an opinion and we all want an experience that feels "just for us." Customers want you to know something about them - from their name to their preferences and make them feel like they are the center of your thinking. The good news is a few small moves will drive tremendous wins here.
The second I'll share here is authenticity. This is in lock step with the previous point as it speaks to the current disdain of cookie-cutter experiences. But authenticity goes beyond this thought as it is also about a genuinely friendly nature - service moments that feel intentional but not scripted. This means that your selection process and cultural fit will become even more crucial to a great service experience. Robust training and onboarding will continue to support immersion into your values and vision, but starting with the right people will be the core driver here.
Scrooge seemed like such a lost cause when the book began, but by the end he was redeemed and like a second father to Tiny Tim. We can learn from the process of looking back on our history, taking stock of where we are in the present, and always looking forward to what our customers may need next.
Merry Christmas to you all. If you have never read the original Dicken's version, be sure take an afternoon and do so. It's a quick read, but one that will brighten your day.
Thanks for keeping your customers at the center of everything you do.
Tony Johnson, CCXP
Customer Experience (CX) Leader | Author | Speaker
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