Greg Kihlström advises on Customer Experience and Digital Transformation, hosts The Agile World Podcast and is a best-selling author.
Any leader knows that labor costs, including payroll and contractors, can be the largest expense a company has — as much (or sometimes more) as 70% of a company’s budget. Not only is this important from a purely financial perspective, but it is also important to remember from a customer experience (CX) one as well.
In my experience advising and consulting organizations on the best ways to improve customer experience, I always recommend that they start by looking at their people and how these teams are aligned with CX efforts. There are many other components to a successful customer experience program, but without buy-in and participation from your employees, you can only achieve limited success.
In this article, we are going to explore a few reasons why your company’s investment in its people can have a big impact on the customer experience you deliver.
Turnover is expensive and means CX knowledge is lost.
In addition to the cost of turnover on the overall operating costs of a business, losing employees can also be detrimental to the customer experience.
We have all gone to a store, restaurant or some other establishment where it was either obvious (or told to us outright) that the person who was helping us hadn’t yet completed their first week of employment.
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As empathetic as we might want to be with that individual at the moment because we’ve all “been there,” having to work with someone who doesn’t know their way around, can’t adequately explain product features and benefits, or just simply can’t help without calling a manager doesn’t create a great customer experience.
If you extrapolate this across an enterprise with high turnover rates, you can easily see where the problems will arise. New employees are focused on getting up to speed and learning how things are done. With high levels of churn, not only are inexperienced employees dealing more with customers but there is a good chance that institutional knowledge will get lost. This can set back progress made in improving your customer experience.
Every employee has a role in the customer experience.
Whose job is customer service? While there are many specific roles that have a direct purview over CX, and others that are on the front lines interacting with customers, the real answer is that it is everyone’s role.
Whether front-line or behind the scenes, if your employees can’t see their relationship with the customer, you first need to show them so they can understand. Then, this relationship should be reinforced over time, eventually reframing however their existing role is described into one with a direct impact on creating and serving customers.
This helps turn your company’s largest investment — its people — into a unified force that is customer-centric and aligned with your mission.
Sustainable improvement in CX requires engaged employees.
As good as your customer experience implementation may be, there is always room for improvement. When you have engaged employees who are aligned with your mission and vision, they are continually on the lookout for ways to make things better.
Unengaged employees have difficulty doing the core of their already assigned responsibilities. What do you think their level of effort for thinking and performing above and beyond the bare minimum will be then? Unlocking the discretionary effort required to identify and implement systems and methods of continuous improvement requires a bigger investment of time and effort from leadership. But the payoffs are well worth it.
As you can see, since all employees have a role in the quality of customer experience that your organization provides, they are a significant investment in your CX initiatives. With the right team in place and a good approach to building engagement and a customer-centric culture, you will be well on your way to achieving greater customer experience success.
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Author: Greg Kihlstrom, Forbes Councils Member