As mentioned in part one of this series, I recently asked two industry executives what they believed it really means to go “above and beyond” when engaging customers and what role they believe “consistency” plays in the customer engagement process.
We discussed going above and beyond previously, so let’s now explore what the two executives thought about customer engagement and consistency:
What does consistency in customer engagement mean to you? How do you help customers feel like they are having a consistent experience each time they interact with your organization?
Vice President, Customer Care and Operations, Retail Industry: We ensure consistency from the start. Elements of our internal recruiting process should mirror the success of the “stars” within our organization. We use an “extension of the television show host” philosophy.
Once the customer becomes engaged by what he or she sees or hears from our hosts, it’s then imperative that we continue the interaction with an equally expected level of engagement. This philosophy helps facilitate a beginning-to-end consistency.
We also have strategies that help broaden the pool of qualified candidates that interact with customers. Our work-at-home program for contact center associates has provided a very robust pipeline of qualified employees. We’ve found that these at-home agents are often more engaged, have lower attrition—and this leads to consistent interactions and a better customer experience (happy employee = happy customer).
We also have supportive technologies within the organization that provide additional customer engagement and help drive consistency. We have key projects that link to customer experience including knowledge management and quality expectations among our internal and outsourced staff.
If agents spend more time searching for answers than servicing customers, data resources are working against efficiency and good customer experiences. A knowledge management solution helps make our data work for us by providing access to information contextually to make search—and service—targeted and efficient.
Quality Management automatically delivers the desired type and number of interactions to be evaluated right to the desktop, based on business rules. Because we have multiple evaluators, the solution provides the necessary workflow among them. It also helps us evaluate an optimum number of interactions across teams and manage quotas effectively.
VP of Customer Experience, Major Hotel Brand: We believe that dedication to consistency starts from the top. Everyone in the organization is considered an “ambassador” and instilled with understanding the value of all customers, whether they are new or repeat customers. We look outside-in and ensure that our operations reflect the consistency and level of service that we want to deliver.
We also focused on the Japanese concept of Kaizen (continuous improvement) that includes ongoing review with all levels within customer care to hear, review and fix a variety of issues and communicate the results back to the global organization.
We also created an “engagement index” that consists of recurring enterprise feedback surveys and assessments of culture (successes and opportunities) and resulting action plans. Ultimately, we believe in making the strong correlation that engaged employees translate into superior customer interactions. Studies also show that companies with a culture that supports putting their people or their “internal” customers first are far more successful than those that don’t.
A Harvard Business School study showed that company cultures which support a “service to profit” mentality, or in other words cultures that serve their associates as if they were customers, are most successful both internally and externally. Companies that continually make the top places to work lists strive to create cultures that promote service integrity internally.
Ultimately, they treat the customer like they are treated and want to be treated. Now, that sounds like a great way to make customers feel you are delivering consistent—and personalized—service.
Wouldn’t you agree?