Friday, January 11, 2013

Owning Your Customer's Experience (Part 2)


Singapore Airlines cabin crew are trained to own the customer experience (image from Singapore Airlines)

Does your organisation hold a common view of the customer experience?

Does everyone know what it looks like when it is done well?

What are you willing to give up to get it?

These questions frame the development of a customer experience vision for any tourism business.

Shared by KC Blonski of AchieveGlobal at the recent Singapore Experience Conversation, it continues on from my previous post. Then, I shared about the importance of the people aspect of the service business, the need to manage all aspects of a customer interaction, and the importance of being proactive in owning the experience.

After defining one's vision, one should next consider the customer relationship process. This can be mapped out based on the following:

1) An outline of your customers' expectations and how they will be met;

2) A defined way of engaging customers (what we call defining moments or "moments of truth");

3) A continuous cycle of improvement - just as your customer's wants and desires change, so should your modus operandi.

Beyond managing by design, companies also need to manage by variability. What this means is to vary the treatment of customers in various circumstances by empowering employees to do so, equipping them with the right skills and budgets.

The next aspect to consider is organisational support. Customer experience is not just a frontline job!

Here, leaders need to throw the weight of the entire company behind any customer experience effort. They should ask the following questions:

1) Do our leaders own the customer experience?

2) Is there a consistent definition of the customer experience?

3) Are there proper reward and recognition systems in place?

4) Are our processes aligned to support a positive customer experience?

5) Have we developed usable metrics and a dashboard?

6) Are our employees adequately trained and empowered? And so on...

In the strategic implementation of a customer experience strategy, a company's communication, commitment and execution need to match in order to be successful. Here, the following mnemonic device provides a useful way to think about it:

1) I KNOW - Having a clear and compelling vision and purpose;

2) I CARE - Having leaders who demonstrate commitment and understand the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) factor;

3) I CAN - Having the right training programme to equip employees with the right knowledge and skills, as well as the right processes and systems to support them.

Summing up, an organisation's customer experience strategy can be crystallised into 5 key components:

1) Clear vision and definition of customer experience, supported by organisational brand values;

2) A defined customer relationship strategy;

3) Superior skills for all customer-facing associates;

4) Leaders who genuinely motivate and guide others - leading from the front as opposed to managing from behind; and

5) Effective organisational support. Passive lip service alone isn't going to work here.

In essence, you should build the emotional connection with guests such that you're top of mind.  Focus every aspect of your business on the guest, and ensure that people, processes, and systems are in place to support this.

Let me conclude with this quote from Walt Disney:

"You can design, create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."
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