Is your organisation just paying lip service to customer experience? Or is it fully committed? Take this 10-step test to find out the truth.
From reading the business press it would be fair assume that customer experience is high on the agenda of many business executives. But is that really the case or are too many UK senior managers just talking the talk and not walking the walk? Is your company one of those that is just paying lip service? Read on to see if your company passes this tongue-in-cheek test.
Now I have no reason to doubt that the pronouncements made by these managers are not sincere. I am pleased that something I believe vital to the long-term health of organisations has come to the fore. The sceptic in me however is reminded of the title of a business book by Ellen C Shapiro called ‘Fad Surfing in the Boardroom’. A subtle mixture of irreverence and a hidden truth, the book points out how many executives are seduced by the latest business fashion – and I am convinced that for many, management is a fashion business.
If executives are so sincere in their pronouncements of the importance of customer experience, why do we need so many regulators to stand up for the customer? Ofgem, Ofcom, Ofwat, Ofthis, Ofthat – they seem to breeding. I wonder how much corporation tax executives could save their companies by negating the need for all these quangos by really caring for their customers?
The banking sector got so bad the regulator had to introduce a requirement and a program to force companies to treat customers fairly! By the way, most of the programs implemented under that banner were the responsibility of the risk and compliance department. Not exactly a way of inspiring the belief and trust of staff or customers.
If you want to know if your company is a leader or a lip server, try the following for size.
- Senior managers say that the customer is everybody’s business – but nobody’s actually held accountable for the quality of the customer experience. This is an old favourite of fad surfers where its all talk and no action. Everybody agrees on the importance of the customer experience but when it comes to action and budget “it’s not me guv” is the common refrain.
- An all-singing, all-dancing customer experience programme is devised and launched with the chief exec acting as head cheerleader. Once the show is over however, he or she is never seen in that context again.
- Your company expounds the importance of long-term relationships with customers but then dumps them at the first sign of trouble. This often goes hand in hand with the ‘monogamy for you, polygamy for me’ school of relationships.
- Customer experience becomes so important it is measured …. once a year! A few years ago I wrote an article called “Why the annual do you love us survey doesn’t work”. Imagine a board of directors trying to manage a business with only one set of financial figures each year; providing only one chance to understand and, more importantly, address performance. It just wouldn’t happen but for many companies that is still how they approach the measurement of customer experience.
- Promoters of the ‘ultimate question’ faith suggest that you only need one measure. Hmmmm. Imagine how you would feel when the next time you fly the pilot says “Today I will be flying this complex machine through a dynamically changing environment using just the altimeter.” Well I’d be relieved that the pilot knew we wouldn’t be ploughing into mountain tops or falling into the sea but more than a bit concerned that we might run out of fuel, be heading in the wrong direction or flying upside down.
- Your company invests heavily in researching customers and gathering their feedback but it seems to hit a wall after the results have been presented. Actions are what count, not numbers! Before designing the questionnaire, build the organisational processes for sharing and acting on the results. Customers like to be heard but they like that you do something to make their life better even more.
- This next one is a beauty. Your company understands the importance of delivering a great customer experience and invests heavily in multi channel marketing programmes but stands idly by when email requests and complaints driven from the web site or the call centre are ignored. All flash, no substance.
- Sales people, those that win the business are sent on exotic trips to sunny climes but the delivery and support people whose good work underpins the retention of customers get sent to Clacton (apologies to Clacton).
- The marketing director bashes on about the importance of the brand to a successful business and squeezes an even bigger budget for that flash ad campaign but then fails to properly train the people who deal with prospects and customers.
- And the final test. When it comes to customer experience do your senior managers practice communication or communiaction? The former may be spelled correctly but the latter is the real key to success. Fad surfers would do well to heed the wise words of philosopher Henry David Thoreau: “I cannot hear your words for the action that thunders above your head.”
If you answered ‘We do that’ to less than two, you’re probably one of the leaders in providing a good customer experience. If, however, your company is guilty of more than six then you probably should look for another job: the customer probably doesn’t love you. The optimist in me hopes that we will all walk the talk. The cynic in me is reminded by a comment one wag made when asked if his managers walked the talk. “No” he said, “Our managers struggle to stumble the mumble”.
Can’t afford to invest in customer experience? Just think about how much banks could improve their customer experience if they were able to invest the $64 BILLION on improving life for customers rather than paying it as fines. Or if UK utility companies had the millions they spent on fines since 2010 on improving products and services.
The spend on fines misses the real point – leaders in customer experience outperform their industry peers as repeated research from Watermark Consulting shows. Customer experience success more than pays for itself and deserves more than fad attention.
PS I would welcome your examples of the ways your organisation practices fad surfing in the customer experience world.