Getting the exec team in front of customers unlocks pandoras box

Teams in enterprises are spending more time striving to get to know more about their customers’ experiences, but how removed from this process are your Executives? When was the last time the Executives had an interaction from customers? How did that go?

Executives see a distorted view of customers

Often, when Executives rely on others to tell them about the experiences customers are having with the business, it’s a distorted view. People naturally attempt to defend their work and they may well defend the work of their peers. Staff themselves, commonly access the products and services through a different lens. There are discounts, unique products, short cuts and queue jumps. Therefore, whilst employees’ views are highly valuable, they’re not necessarily representative of the customer universe overall.

What we’ve found talking to those who lead a business and make decisions about budgets/investments, is that they tend to have shallow knowledge about the digital experience of a user. Traditional channels are still relied on, team assistants complete tasks for them such as upgrading the phone plan or renewing that insurance policy.

Executives learn the new truth

Opportunities to walk in the shoes of customers present themselves in different ways. The more powerful approach is a combination of a few.

An easy initial step is to engage with customer facing staff, those who deal with customers multiple times every day. They have an amazing level of accumulated knowledge about the needs and frustrations of those they serve. They can expose the limitation of policy or product that hinders a great customer experience. And they love to be heard by those who can create change.

To complement these conversations with customer facing staff, listening in to calls live, reading comments on social media and importantly combing unedited customer complaints always lead to new news for those focusing on strategic priorities. These issues are otherwise buried under the carpet or lost between the front line and the upper levels of power.

An holistic customer connection program

Initiatives to better understand the customer’s experience can be set up with the best intent, but how they’re executed requires care and good governance to avoid customer backfire and internal misalignment.

We’ve seen, first hand, instances where one Executive uses initiative to interact with customers directly. Then, a peer jumps on the bandwagon and speaks to a few more. Then another follows and before they know it they have an unstructured program in place with no strategy or plan to deal with the consequences.

It’s not appropriate for an Executive to switch a disappointed customer into an advocate by breaking rules that a call centre operator needs to strictly adhere to. The employee and their colleagues will feel undervalued and the brand may not be looked on completely favourably if the customer thinks ‘why wasn’t this done months ago when my problem started’.

Let’s develop a program to help the business leaders understand the good things and weak spots of the customer experience to help develop a focused and well-informed project strategy.

The companies who have designed and executed such projects well have seen considerable improvements in the move to become a more customer-centric culture with clear end benefits.