Customer service relations expert Jaquie Scammell, the author of Creating a Customer Service Mindset, reveals what small business owners can learn from three leaders in the area of customer experience.
A recent report by McKinsey & Company explains that companies adding the human touch to digital sales consistently outperform their competitors. They achieve five times more revenue, eight times more operating profit, and, for public companies, twice the return to shareholders.
In addition, research done by Bain & Company (the inventor of the Net Promoter Score), reports that increasing customer retention rates (aka loyalty) by even just 5% will increase profits by 25% to 95%.
The issue is that in an organisation, marketing doesn’t recognise customer service as a people issue; and human resources doesn’t see customer loyalty as a marketing issue. Everyone needs to own service from the top down – the customer is the priority for all.
Customer service must not be treated like a project with a beginning and end, but rather a continuous improvement performance indicator. Measuring the happiness and engagement of employees must be reviewed alongside the happiness and engagement of customers, as the following examples show.
Australian unsung heroes
In Australia, Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) has a relentless focus on improving customer experience across more than 140 dealerships in Australia. Their approach to service training is to educate employees on how to treat customers by showing them, and making employees feel what it is like to be treated as important.
Volkswagen do this through multiple touchpoints, such as team roadshows, events and conferences throughout the calendar year. It is important to keep raising the awareness of customer service in the business, and its importance in everyone’s mind.
As a result, in the 18 months since they made a concerted effort to focus on the customers’ needs, VGA has seen a reduction in the number of people who left to work elsewhere.
Yet, consistency of quality customer service is one of the key challenges for any large business, especially if there is a diverse mix of employees, spread out at any one time, like at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which can host up to 100,000 customers.
To address this challenge, everyone in the organisation must know what is expected of them.
The MCG’s CARE framework (Courteous, Anticipate, Responsiveness, Efficiency) defines what great customer service needs to be to execute consistent customer service to those one hundred thousand raving fans at once.
CARE doesn’t feel like additional work for employees to take on, but rather is a framework that supports a clear service message among all stakeholders. It is even incorporated into recruitment programs and selection criteria for hiring.
It is practical tools such as these that support positive behaviours in customer service and help large workforce teams to keep focused. Yet, all of this would be meaningless if a company failed to measure the results of their impact.
Understanding what the organisation is measuring and why is an ongoing process at Australian Unity. Asking for meaningful data is critical in order to stay in touch with employees and customers.
Australian Unity provides real-time quality assurance measures from the voice of their customers on a dashboard that has been created for their leaders. This allows them to see a snapshot of real-time data, and gives individuals access to their own performance, seeing verbatim what customers are saying about them.
However, sometimes metrics that are measured in a business are counterproductive and can negatively impact the mindset of employees, so regular coaching is important, which is the responsibility of the frontline leaders.
Leaders must become conscious of their own habits and practices, and promote, encourage and lead their frontline staff, so that they, in turn, look after and nurture the organisation’s most valuable assets – the customers.
It is this that has a significant impact on overall business performance, not complex systems and processes.