Business Needs To Get Well

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“Your service sucks!”  I heard this the other day when a disgruntled customer got angry in a nearby store.  How many times in the last few months, weeks, or even days have you wanted to scream that?  I don’t think it is at all unusual.  The push for bottom-line results and shareholder value has put customers, not to mention employees, at the bottom of the priority list.

Many companies try to fix this problem by instituting customer service departments or customer service initiatives but these are largely Band-Aids on a much larger problem.

You see, I believe there is one key thing contributing to poor customer and employee experiences, misplaced focus on profit instead of people.  The race to the bottom line removes people from the equation, both customers and employees.  With more work expected from smaller workforces, no talk of customers in business meetings, policies that are more for the business than the customer, and experience design as an afterthought, we have the elements of a perfect storm where employees are unhappy and customers get the brunt of that.

The fix is, I believe, in businesses that create wellness, both emotional wellness and financial wellness that begins with people.  When the C-suite takes care of managers and managers take care of employees, employees take care of customers, who, in turn, take care of the business financially.

This means creating employee and customer experiences where people are committed to helping each other, to serving and making each other successful.

Companies that want to produce these high-quality employee and customer experiences need to routinely perform a set of four practices.

ALIGNMENT

Great experiences inside and outside of your enterprise don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of myriad decisions made by every single person in the organization on a daily basis. These decisions affect every employee and every customer, and, eventually, the overall health of the business.  To align those decisions and keep your business well, employees need a shared vision; a strategy that is consistent with the rest of the corporate strategy and brand yet with service at its center, and this means service to both customers and employees. Without this beacon, employees will set out on a random journey, and their decisions and actions will be inconsistent and often lead to siloed self-focus, despite all the best intentions.  When siloes and self-focus begin infecting your organization, the customer begins being left out and the health of your business suffers.  Wellness begins with alignment from the inside to the outside.

DEFINITION

Employees must know the expectations of their roles and how they impact customers’ experience and success as well as their fellow employees’ experience and success.  You need to create a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employees on serving each other and delivering a great customer experience. To continuously evolve these behaviors, employee and customer insights should be used as part of a routine design process that includes employees at all levels in ideation and testing.

MEASUREMENT

You need to quantify employee and customer experience quality in a consistent manner across the organization, and then use that data to celebrate successes and deliver actionable insights for improvement.  Effective measurement programs provide an understanding of the relationship between employee and customer experience quality, the attributes that drive each, and the impact on business results.

Building blocks and key areas to measure in each experience include… Success, it is the foundation of any experience… Ease, this is critical because employees and customers both need efficiency and as few complications as possible…. Enjoyment, because no one wants an experience that creates negative emotions.

COMMUNICATION

Tie it all together with a steady cadence of communication that never lets employees forget about why they’re doing all of this.  The vision, strategy, and expectations need to be regular messages.  Successes need to be celebrated to drive repeat performance.  And when decisions need to be made, you need to be regularly asking two questions: Would making this change diverge from our overall customer and/or employee experience strategy, and if so, what kind of impact will this have on the experience? Reviewing the alignment to your strategy and vision should enable you to easily make decisions that don’t require a lot of debate.

So… what will you do to influence your business to get well?

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