Make service your differentiator to drive growth and profit

Business Reporter: Ethos Farm

When was the last time you spoke about what your customers REALLY think of your product or service at the boardroom table?

While 64 per cent of leaders say customer service has a positive impact on their company’s growth, a large majority of companies and their leaders still aren’t tabling it on the monthly boardroom agenda.

Customers’ expectations for great service wherever their interactions take place are higher than ever, a trend we’ve seen on the increase post-pandemic. A recent survey showed 39 per cent of consumers have less patience today than they did before the Coronavirus outbreak in 2019. With changing customer preferences, priorities and patience, and with technology more accessible than ever before, customers are first in line to let brands know when they fall short of expectations – not to mention also telling their family, friends and colleagues.

So with 49 per cent of customers reporting that they’d had more bad customer service experiences in the past year compared with the year before, why are some companies getting it so wrong – and even more alarmingly, missing out on further company growth? This is sure to get the attention of those around the table at your next board meeting.

Ethos Farm is an award-winning specialist in the customer and employee experience. A great customer experience starts with a great employee experience. Here are some examples of how Ethos Farm has helped its impressive portfolio of global clients take the all-important first steps, with demonstrable results that prove service really can become your biggest differentiator and profit driver:

1. Creating a service vision and customer experience (CX) strategy

Do you really know what your employees and your customers think? How are they feeling? What’s going well? What’s not? Remember, it’s often your front-line customer-facing teams who truly know what customers are saying, as they’re closest to them.

Most companies have an overall vision, but a customer experience (CX) vision is the chance to create and focus on a common customer service proposition: the shared “why”; a purpose and reason for all employees.

Whatever your aspirations for service, it’s essential that you have a clear strategy and associated structure to deliver your ambitions.

Most importantly, the executive board or business owners have to buy into this vision and the associated measurement of success.

2.  The right target operating model (TOM)

Strategy should always drive structure. Start with your strategy first and then build out your organisational design to align itself to the strategy you’ve developed.

This may mean the creation of new executive roles in the boardroom purely to oversee “service” across all parts of the business, or adapting existing roles to take accountability of the end-to-end customer journey.

End-to-end journey-mapping workshops are extremely useful for understanding who is responsible and accountable for each customer touchpoint. Once mapped, they can really help to crystalise the target operating model for success.

3. Embedding and measuring service within your organisation

Creating a clear strategic vision and associated organisational structure will certainly help drive change in your service proposition. This can be harmonised into a clear service standard and set of behaviours for frontline teams to enact.

Consider implementing a learning program so that service standards and behaviours are understood and embedded across the organisation.

Set and agree customer service metrics, whether an increase in Net Promoter Score or a decrease in complaints and continue to monitor and track positive performance over time.

A common service proposition, standards and behaviours supports everyone to deliver to a consistent and expected standard, no matter what role they play. The golden (CX) thread should run through the entire customer journey.

Finally, it’s critically important to set up robust governance to ensure that the initiatives, measures and key deliverables are always monitored and reported on. Creating this governance helps to keep CX on the executive agenda and ensures that a cycle of continuous improvement in the customer journey is embedded into culture.

With 70 per cent of brands seeing a direct connection between customer service and performance, this further evidences the need to ensure that the customer experience is on your boardroom agenda.

There is real benefit to companies who not only recognise the importance of the customer voice at the boardroom table, but also the vital link between employee experience and customer satisfaction. Frontline customer-facing workforces are the most important make-or-break factor in many customer experiences, and with the right organisational culture and crafted employee experience, truly elevated customer engagement is possible.

Hear from Ethos Farm Founders Sally Alington and Mathew Garner here.

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