Do This to Level Up Your Customer-Experience Management Game
CX has become a lead indicator of performance, change and company culture, but what are the best ways of fueling a passion for it among employees?
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In February of 2020, Harvard Business Review published an article by Rob Markey that included some of the author's own research on customer loyalty. One remarkable finding was that what Markey termed "loyalty leaders…companies at the top of their industries in Net Promoter Scores or satisfaction rankings for three or more years, grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers and deliver two to five times the shareholder returns over the next 10 years."
Clearly then, one key to success is being predictive and proactive in improving customer loyalty by taking targeted action that boosts the customer experience (CX).
We have seen, for example, when staff are unhappy with a change in their shifts or in staff levels, which can cause an instant drop in friendliness with customers. As a corollary, staff engagement is inevitably higher in high-performing CX teams.
The challenge is, then, how to take action in order to drive similar results.
Taking action to drive results
The lead indicator of CX performance is the gap between your top 10% and your bottom 10% of performers for key outcomes like net promoter score (NPS), average transaction value and key accountable standards. And the improvement potential is remarkable: What would it be worth if the bottom 20% of performers achieved what the top 20% are achieving?
The real costs of underperformers — the long-term consequences — are often ignored, but knowing the financial impact of underperforming versus top performers can ignite ownership appetite for improvement and help stop the excuses.
CX improvement is often under-recognized, which reduces the motivation for teams to take the next step in their improvement journeys. Consistency requires accountability for the key measures, as well as recognizing and rewarding both performance and improvements, which makes it incumbent upon everyone to lift their game, and the resulting compounding improvements quarter on quarter create a real competitive edge.
In considering this, remember that NPS is an outcome, not the driver. New customers who are motivated to make contact with you due to a referral can have an NPS 30% points higher than those who were new customers — who made contact with you due to seeing a special promotion being advertised.
Consistency is what "goes beyond," as it ultimately delivers on customer expectations because behaviors are embedded. This reinforces the right culture and purpose. "Catching people doing it right" is the key to boosting improvements, value team members efforts and embed change.
The percent of customers for which you exceed customer expectations versus meet expectations is the lead indicator of your CX performance, as it is personalized, and is about how they feel.
In my 25 years in CX management across 400 clients, I found that McDonalds Global was by far the most dedicated to delivering consistent and excellent execution of their customer experience standards. Its values, leadership, behaviors and processes were perfectly aligned, and there was 100% commitment to winning customer hearts.
Consistency is delivering on all the key standards based on the customer's needs, not chasing average scores. It's also about personalizing the team members' coaching, training and changes in action habits. The key is adding value to the customer's needs, so it is personalized. (We have found that customers who buy more than they came in for can have 38% higher NPS.)
Data alone can't fix customer service issues
The focus for many businesses tends to be on shifting average NPS scores and not constantly leveraging best practices and boosting underperformers by predicting the top opportunities by team member and targeting return on effort. But execution is what counts, which is in turn a function of the action habits that are in practice. These include what is accepted to be poor behavior and what is celebrated in terms of excellent behavior, as well as how customers are communicated with and acted on in the moment and how this can be reinforced or improved.
Data alone will not fix customer experience issues. It requires empathy, a true understanding of how it impacts your customer, and a commitment to taking action. The key is how you create accountability among regional managers to diagnose a situation based on outcomes and key behavioral gaps — to engage managers to take ownership to address the real cause and effect based on performance profiling. This means the number-one gap in capability is used as a breakthrough linked to training and coaching, so there is momentum because change is embedded.
Best practices must be linked to financial outcomes, customer insights, team member learning and training skills, which will then provide compelling proof of why it's worth it to make changes now.
Best practice management is a lead indicator of how businesses create consistency and purpose — building capability by making the complex simple and scalable. It also helps create innovative solutions. It is a fast track to success that's often under the radar, because it needs to be fully integrated across insights, training and CX management.
The key is achieving more with less effort. Best practice management takes the guesswork out and enables managers to impact change, which reduces both effort and stress.