There’s that word again. Whatever you read on your way to professional development, the experience is invoked first. It names our current economy, defines our mutual goal, and heralds the change. In relation to employees, it’s just as crucial as when attached to a customer. The experience calls for customer satisfaction to evolve into customer success, prompting a whole other approach to business.
If we’re not holistic in our aspirations to delight the end-user, we will fail.
Because of that harsh but simple truth, the road to modern-day business success includes not only an engaging customer experience, but also a meaningful employee experience. The two are mutually interdependent, or as our headline claims – a path to good experience is paved with good intentions.
Here’s how your company culture affects the experience it provides.
The experience economy doesn’t allow us to put our business success in the expert hands of our product development teams. Today’s services are seldom competitive too, rendering our unique selling points unreliable. Customers are not as interested in owning what we have to offer as they are in testing our abilities to provide them the fastest, most convenient, and most friction-free experience.
And, unlike products and services, experiences can be highly personalized and custom-tailored to every customer’s needs. Personalization is an important precursor for customer success, but it’s not the only one. The rules of this holistic approach bound us to be present, attentive, and helpful whenever the customer needs it, across each and every touchpoint that they make with our brands.
This is very, very close to impossible.
Though it sounds neat in theory, customer success is quite challenging in practice. First, we’d need to be equipped with all the latest customer-oriented tools, especially CRMs, real-time communication and collaboration, and automation. But even then, even if all these software systems are impeccably integrated and synchronized for maximum results, there’s another obstacle that must be overcome.
You guessed it right – the obstacle that stands firm in our way to success is the human error itself. Cutting-edge tools are said to remove the risk of a burnt-out customer service agent, but only if the agent in case is actually engaged and passionate about doing their job.
Consider the intuitive knowledge base, or a live chat software. Both of these tools are designed to remove the friction from the customer experience, both by equipping agents with means to acquire information and pass it on in real time. Together, they’ve initiated the era of no wait times.
But the speed of service is not a determining factor for every customer. The absence of waiting time means nothing at all if there’s no quality to provided support. Tools make employees quick and efficient. They streamline their workflows and prevent burnout, but they can’t make them happy.
And, unhappy employee means at least a dozen of unhappy customers.
Steve Curtin’s book Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary offers a universal truth – exceptional customer service is always voluntary.
In other words, customer service agents who don’t feel engaged and satisfied in their work environment cannot deliver a valuable customer experience. They’ll use their CRM and live support chat, but they’ll be easily frustrated by becoming unambitious and uninterested in making your customers happy.
The difference between a customer service that’s extraordinary and the one that’s ordinary, Steve Curtin claims, is the difference between job essence and job function. The second is about meeting job requirements, while the first is about finding fulfilment that pushes us towards that extra mile.
If exceptional customer service is always voluntary, and it is, than our answer might lay in building company cultures that promote engaging employee experiences. To model, recognize and reward dedication to job essence, not only function, is the first step towards customer success, Curtin insists.
Since a great customer experience cannot be separated from a great employee experience, the key to obtaining both is by showing and rewarding good intentions. Employee motivation and incentives come to mind immediately. But they are only a part of a broader picture called a positive company culture.
Does a positive company culture rely on technology and automation? Sure. An intuitive knowledge base and live chat software are essential to the experience of employees and customers alike. But, it’s only when these tools are leveraged as means to facilitate the job function of customer service agents that they contribute to their job essence as well.
Customer service automation tools are typically employed as technology that ought to make employees more productive and efficient at whatever they do. Though this is undoubtedly their main purpose and their number one benefit, they must be able to motivate agents at the same time.
In a company culture that puts the customer first, their application is about achieving customer success at any cost. If automation makes customer service agents faster, then they must do more, right? Meanwhile, in a company culture that puts the employee first, acknowledging that that’s the only way to customer success, tools are there to empower agents and make their jobs more fulfilling.
With technology to help them out, modern-day businesses have a unique opportunity to tailor positive employee-oriented cultures that offer great employee experiences. In such cultures, customer service agents are equally focused on job function and job essence, responding to our good intentions in the only way that seems right – with good intentions of their own, aimed towards creating great customer experiences and achieving customer success.