Seven ways to improve customer experience
Summer is a quiet time for markets. Schools off, spend goes on personal travel, holidays, sale. As you focus on the next planning cycles, it is the perfect time to question your entire approach to how you are going about customers. Not how you do marketing although it may be involved, but how you structure your business to deliver customer promises. Here's 7 ways to boost your business health from inside, that will get you customers from the outside.
Get aligned with your purpose
The positive impact you intend to make on your customer should be the core of your strategy. This is your business purpose. In addition to making your revenue and profit targets, of course. If you can't explain your purpose in a single sentence, then your messages are already confusing to both employees and customers. Work backwards and use it to get clear and focused on what you are doing and why. This will also define your internal and external brand identity and values. You can test this concept easily. Think of the biggest player in your industry and name their purpose. Can you do the same with the same clarity for your own business?
Teach value of commercials
From the CEO to the tea boy, start explaining money concepts to all tiers in the company. This is not an exercise in managing expenses but a way to develop entrepreneurialism within the culture. The more brains applied to thinking about the business as driving value for customers, the more ideas and solutions will come up. Encourage contribution, however off the wall. Over time as the team absorbs and understands more about revenue and profit, the better and more valuable their suggestions (and work input) will be. They will also find their roles more meaningful as they understand how they personally contribute.
Develop customer intuition
Micky Jagtiani, who founded the Landmark Group empire and became one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of the region, was famous for standing instore, observing customer behaviour. His success in retail was from adding value to the customer experience. He thought of a solution to what they needed before they realised they needed it. Every member of the team is a customer of your business. Get everyone thinking on behalf of the customer. Observe and have everyone observe how service is delivered. Be intuitive. Think what will help that customer have a better experience.
Create an emotional impact
First think impact, then design. While there are agencies providing mystery shopper services, you don't need to start by outsourcing. You can quickly and effectively draft a customer journey map by walking through and documenting the entire customer experience. List every single human touchpoint. Review how positive it is and identify gaps and weaknesses. Involve the wider team in this early stage and get everyone designing solutions that aim to turn every interaction into a positive experience.
Talk less, do more
Recognise that experimentation is invaluable. The problem with strategy is that it is theoretical. The problem with strong leadership knowledge is that it has come from past experience. Best practice is a great way to gain direction, however, learning how to move ideas into practice quickly is the golden key to surprising opportunities and new discoveries. Not everyone is positioned best to develop new ideas. Select new project teams wisely, position the most critical thinkers at the end of the conceptualisation process.
Have high values
How you deliver your strategies counts. This is where your values come into play. Everyone's adherence to values, all the time, is how your business creates an impression in the mind of the people it engages with. Remember, with review sites like Glassdoor, employees are having a louder voice impacting your external reputation as much as customer reviews. Focus on building your culture and brand from the inside out. Your staff are your first audience. Establish mutual respect and a positive culture. Make no apologies to ensuring all stakeholders raise their game when it comes to adhering to your values.
Birth a third culture
A strong identity supported by behaviour will create a sense of pride in your business. This is the third culture that all your staff and customers will want to be part of. From Starbucks to Apple and luxury brands. A successful brand evolves through the culture of inclusion and co-creation of an entity bigger than everyone involved. Address silos, encourage participation, accept you don't have all the answers and welcome diversity from multiple stakeholders.
You don't need to pay millions to improve your business' financial health. Focus on creating a strong and diverse culture inside your business by being clear on what you are doing for your customer and how you do it. Use this to get lean and focused. You will get more competitive for doing what you are good at rather than diluting your service by trying to do everything for everyone.
The writer is founder and business authenticity consultant at Your Neuro Coach and a board member of the International Coach Federation, UAE chapter. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.