More empowerment, less supervision: Using a customer charter to drive positive CX through your employeesby
Nicole Holt explores the potential of aligning employee engagement with customer-centric values and promises.
In this year’s State of the Global Workplace report, Gallup estimates that ‘low employee engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion. That’s 9% of global GDP — enough to make the difference between success and a failure for humanity.’ While we’re not in a position to ascertain its impact on the future of humanity, we can say with certainty that low employee engagement has a direct, detrimental impact on customer experience.
Of course, it’s no secret that strong employee engagement and positive employee experiences drive improved customer experience. Neither is it a surprise that ignoring employee engagement as a key factor in CX programmes means missing a key driver of customer retention, growth and loyalty.
While many organisations now proactively work to link EX and CX, many more still treat employees and customers as two entirely separate, unrelated groups. This is detrimental to efforts to improve customer service, drive customer engagement and increase customer ROI.
A customer charter linked to organisational culture and values
Effective CX programmes rely on two views: outside looking in (the customer perspective), and inside looking out (the organisational, leadership and employee perspective).
While some organisations have harnessed employee engagement programmes to feed into their CX efforts, post-pandemic, this has often translated into employee monitoring in a bid to track what employees are doing in new hybrid or remote working models. Checking in on employees’ time and productivity is not the same as implementing employee-driven CX programmes and is usually highly detrimental to engagement.
Checking in on employees’ time and productivity is not the same as implementing employee-driven CX programmes.
To truly empower your employees to deliver, you must engage them with what the organisation is trying to achieve, the culture and values it upholds, and the promises it makes to customers.
This is where a customer charter becomes invaluable.
Originally a mainstay of public service organisations, customer charters are now becoming a key differentiator in the corporate market. A clear statement of promises and intent to customers, a customer charter puts the concept of customer centricity at the heart of an organisation.
While a customer charter, by its very nature, demonstrates to customers what they can expect from you, it also serves a much more fundamental purpose for employees, acting as a guide to what is expected of them and how they can contribute to the delivery of exceptional customer experiences.
A customer charter based on trust
Any business can make a vague commitment to uphold strong customer service standards, but truly customer-centric organisations understand that whilst it’s true that customers need to know what you are promising, employees need to know it first.
The key to meeting and exceeding customer expectations is ensuring that employees understand their role in delivering a great customer experience and that they are empowered to go the extra mile BEFORE you share your promises with your customers. And it’s not just customer-facing staff that should be engaged; every support role has a part to play.
This is, quite simply, the most effective way to ensure that employees fully appreciate what customers will expect from them in terms of service and take on board what your organisation expects of them from the outset. Research has shown that organisations with a clear vision, set out in a clear way, have employees who are four times as engaged as those without.
Essentially, this approach is a statement of trust from an organisation to its employees: we trust you to deliver on our organisational goals. And, as multiple studies show, such as those from CultureAmp, McKinsey and PwC, trust is a vital driver of engagement, productivity and performance in the workplace.
Empowering employees to deliver and trusting them to do so without monitoring their every move has a proven impact on ROI.
Empowering employees to deliver and trusting them to do so without monitoring their every move has a proven impact on ROI: organisations who actively empower their people are five to six times more likely to improve customer service levels, and, according to Gallup research, ‘highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.’
A strategic customer charter to drive organisational ROI
As with every other aspect of CX, you cannot simply pay lip service to a customer charter in the hope it will boost your bottom line. Having a statement outlining your customer promises is not the same as embedding it across every part of your business, engaging your employees with what it means, and ensuring that those promises are met.
Taking a strategic and holistic approach to a customer charter is, therefore, essential if you’re aiming to deliver value back to the business. This means tying your charter to your corporate culture, the values of your organisation, and the goals you are aiming to achieve.
Organisations need to challenge themselves by asking the core questions that sit at the heart of CX delivery:
- How engaged is senior management? What promises will they commit to?
- How customer-centric are your staff? Do they know their role in improving customer experience? What are the barriers to them meeting the promises your organisation makes?
- If you feel a Customer Charter will need to do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of focusing employees on customer centricity, what supporting actions or training need to be in place?
- Critically, what promises are you already making to customers, and how do these vary across departments, teams and roles?
The answers to these and other questions should enable you to apply a charter from the leadership to the front line. It should also mean that your employees naturally become the vehicle for driving improved customer experiences. So, while organisations might be tempted to ask whether a customer charter resonates with customers, we suggest that you should first ask whether your charter resonates with your employees.
Making promises your organisation – and your employees – can keep
Organisations with the most mature and effective customer experience cultures have a clear and documented definition of what ‘excellence’ looks like so that employees know what they should aim to deliver and customers know what they should expect to experience from a product, service or brand.
Remember, if the focus is on internal issues and priorities, with little or no interest in gathering customer feedback or empowerment of employees to make a difference, it’s more than likely that customers will be frustrated by siloed teams that don’t provide a consistent service and disappointed at multiple touchpoints.
Conversely, if everyone knows their role in improving satisfaction, communication of customer experience measures and achievements is ‘standard practice’, and all departments work together to provide a seamless experience, the overriding impression created for customers will be of an organisation that is easy to do business with and puts the customer at the heart of what they do.
Helping brands deliver an excellent customer experience across their products and services, incorporating product design, co-creation, user experience and positioning as well as more traditional customer experience.
Professional researcher with more than 25 years' experience of designing, implementing and analysing global research...