In today’s fast-paced, uncertain, and rapidly changing business world, it is unfortunately too easy for most business employees to forget about the complete customer experience. To me, the complete customer experience should drive everything a company does. Now, I’m not talking about a “user interface”, a website, or a ridiculous wait-in-a-bank-line to see a manager for help; I’m talking about the entire customer experience from start to finish which should be foundational and in support of the business strategy.
Take a flight, go to a sporting event, go out for a meal, receive a business-to-business cold call, participate in a service call, or listen to a line manager tell an HR Business Professional that training and development isn’t needed, and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.
Everyone is so busy and so focused on “getting through the day” that most companies and the people working for them have forgotten about the customer experience. In many of our Business Acumen and Business Leadership development programs we go into great length and provide invaluable training through business simulation centric learning to help organizations get better at the achieving their results. For the purposes of sharing and developing a discussion with the readers of this blog, I present a high-level overview of the top 11 things that should make up the skills needed to build the foundation for companies who actually care and want to embrace the complete customer experience.
Understand the Voice of Market and the Voice of the Customer
Every company should begin the process of delivering the complete customer experience by understanding the voice of the market and the voice of the customer. The critical information gained from listening to, and engaging with, customers about their perceptions of their markets, challenges, and opportunities becomes the foundation for everything related to managing the customer experience.
Alignment on your company’s strategy
Every leader must clearly communicate the business strategy for their own company to their teams and reports for the purpose of creating alignment. The strategy of the company sets the specific goals, objectives, and key results expectation that are managed toward.
Target the right customers
Once the strategy has been created, it is critical to target and focus on the right customers. Delivering a good value proposition to the wrong customers is one of the biggest mistakes companies make.
Deliver the right message to the right customers
Assuming you have targeted the right customers, every segment listens for, understands, and “absorbs” your strategy through the lenses of marketing, sales, and other messaging channels including social media. It’s critical for leaders to make sure their companies are delivering the right messages to the right customers.
Design the right solutions
Once you understand the needs of your customer and have a winnable strategy, you need to execute and design the right solutions. Leaders must create an environment for the building, testing, and delivering of the right products and services that meet the value proposition to the right customers.
Pay attention to the details
It seems that mistakes are too easily accepted and “accountability” within organizations is a fading concept. That absolutely can’t happen in an organization that is focused on the customer experience. Leaders must create an environment where paying attention to details is a critical competency.
Deliver the solution your customers want
Leadership is equal to the execution of your strategy. Leaders must make sure that the solutions you have designed are the solutions your customers want through flawless execution and focus on the complete customer experience.
Listen to feedback and make adjustments
No company ever gets it completely right the first time. There are always fixes and adjustments. The best companies actively listen, take feedback from customers, and make their experience better and better every day.
Executing a great strategy is the most important thing leaders do; another critical task is understanding competitors and making additional and necessary adjustments based on competitive positioning and the business results of key competitors. And of course it should go without saying that not all competitors are the competitors you need to focus on.
Create a culture of innovation
A culture of innovation is a healthy culture where leaders are encouraging and supporting their teams and people to think outside of the box, to challenge the status quo, and to be constantly seeking new ideas to make the execution of the strategy and the customer experience even better.
Say thank you
The final foundational skill costs nothing, yet has basically been lost as part of the complete customer experience; say thank you to customers and let them know you really appreciate them and their business.
In summary, it’s a good idea to come back to some of the basics of understanding and executing a complete customer experience based upon 11 foundational skills that can support business success.