Doing a Thousand Things Right
In This Issue
Creating a good customer experience is often about doing a thousand little things right.
It's easy to lose sight of that fact when you're trying to think strategically about process improvement and engineering a better customer experience for your organization. Statistics can conceal the fact that behind every data point is a customer, and that customer received either a good experience or a bad one.
So while it's important to make sure the right processes are in place to enable a good customer experience, it's more important to make sure that the people who are part of those processes have the tools they need to make those thousand little decisions in the right way.
Every employee of every company is pulled in different directions by competing priorities. You have to balance things like working faster vs. more carefully; satisfying an upset customer vs. saving money; or solving a problem yourself vs. calling for help.
Even if a company says it cares about customer experience, what really matters is how employees are making those decisions on a day to day basis. To make the right decisions, a company needs to ensure:
- Employees understand what customers expect and how to deliver it (you need good training)
- Employees get regular, specific, and detailed feedback about how customers perceive the experience (you need a well-designed closed-loop survey)
- Employees aren't pressured to make bad decisions (compensation needs to align with customer experience, or at least not pull the wrong way)
- Employees know the leadership cares (customer experience needs to be an ongoing effort, not a one-time project)
This holds true for employees throughout the organization, not just the ones who deal directly with customers. A website designer or billing specialist can be subject to the same negative forces (work faster, save money, ignore the complaints) as a contact center rep or salesperson. If anything, back-office employees may be more susceptible to taking customer experience shortcuts since they don't have to deal with customers directly.
The good news is that most people genuinely want to do a good job, and if given the right tools and training and if shown that the company cares, they will be highly motivated to make the right decisions about customer experience.
If the leadership can just do a few big things right, it's not that hard for everyone else to do a thousand little things right.
"When in doubt, collect more data."
That could easily be the guiding principle of business in the year 2015. Collecting data is easy and storing it is cheap. You never know what insights might be gained from just a bit more data.
But like any simple idea, reality turns out to be more complicated. Not all data is useful, and while storing data is cheap, the tools and expertise to find those hidden insights turn out to be fairly expensive. And, as companies occasionally discover to their regret, data can be a liability as well as an asset.
I see this attitude in the customer experience world, too. Often it's a lot easier to just do more customer tracking or conduct more surveys than take action. There's a lot of data collection for the sake of data collection going on.
To be effective, customer surveys should have an underlying purpose. For example: to answer a specific question (i.e. "How many customers call us after logging in to the website?"), or to support a specific business activity (such as coaching employees, or tracking customers' satisfaction with their purchases).
Often, however, I see surveys designed backwards. Rather than starting with the goal of the survey, people will begin by thinking of all the things they might possibly find interesting and add all of them to the survey.
The result is usually a mess: a long survey where most questions are never really used for anything. This tends to drive the response rate down and make it harder to take action based on customer feedback.
So before you collect more data--whether that's enlarging a survey sample or adding more questions--take a few minutes to ask yourself:
- Is the new data likely to tell me something I don't already know?
- Do I know what I'm going to use the additional data for?
- When I consider all the costs of collecting additional data, including reduced survey response, customer goodwill, and the effort to analyze the results, is it worth the expected benefit?
If you can answer Yes to all three questions, not only is the data probably worth collecting but you've also got a good start on taking action based on the results. But if you answered No, it may be that you're collecting data for the sake of collecting data.