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Employee Engagement: 4 Keys to Delivering Exceptional Customer Experience

Follow these steps for creating an organization-wide sense of ownership of the customer experience.

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Engaged employees drive better business results. It’s been studied, the stats are in, and it’s just plain true. And it isn’t just true for front-line employees who interact directly with your customers. It’s true for every single employee in your organization, whether their work impacts customers directly or indirectly.

Take a member of your IT team, for example. They may not interact with customers every day, but their work on data security and login portals helps keep customers safe. Try to think of a role in your organization that doesn’t impact customer experience in some way. It doesn’t exist — or at least it shouldn’t.

No matter how far removed a role may be from actual customer interaction, it still has something to do with customer experience. This is the truth of the new, customer-centric era of business, and it’s the way CIOs need to think about their organizations from top to bottom. According to 2019 State of the CIO research, 55% of CIOs are spending more time learning about customer needs as a way to create revenue-generating initiatives.

How do you inspire employee engagement? The most engaged employees are those who feel their work really contributes to the success of your business. They’re the ones who feel they have a real impact on your products and services and the way customers engage with them. They’re people who embrace their purpose within your company, and are driven by it.

With a customer-centric perspective, along with the right training and processes in place, every single one of your employees — from interns to the C-suite — can be a highly engaged employee. There simply needs to be an organization-wide sense of ownership of the customer experience. To take your company in that direction, follow these four steps.

  1. Show Visible Commitment 

Change won’t catch on if it’s left to brew in a company think tank. To inspire every employee at your organization to engage with customer experiences, change needs to be enthusiastically led by your CEO and other top executives. This includes CIOs, as well as possibly a Chief Experience Officer and a Chief Transformation Officer.

Don’t throw out the idea of a think tank altogether — a research team can work with your customer service team and other business units to identify key customer pain points. However, this is a critical strategic imperative. As such, every initiative should be co-sponsored and championed by your CEO and other chief officers, no matter where in your organization an idea originates.

You should also set up a strong accountability matrix to build a sustainable customer-centric culture and way of working. Employees should feel ownership of their roles in impacting customer experiences, and everyone should be accountable at all levels. When your C-suite is visibly committed to customer experience, they will set an example that the rest of your company can be proud and excited to follow.

  1. Listen to Your Customers

You can’t become a customer-centric company without knowing what your customers want. How do you find that out? Well, you listen to them, of course! To do this, you should embrace design thinking and get into the real customer environment as much as possible.

As CIO, make sure that every new project starts with a customer visit. When you observe customers interacting with your products, services, or people in real-time you’ll quickly discover actual customer needs and pain points.

This information can help you build customer personas and journeys that influence the vision and technology behind exceptional customer experiences. In designing any new product, service, or process, you should now use rapid and iterative prototyping that enables customer feedback during the development cycle. This ensures that everything you deliver to your customers actually meets their needs.

  1. Empower Your Front Lines

While a successful company-wide transformation should be kicked off and led by executives, no one plays a more important role in the shift to customer-centricity than your front-line employees.

The people closest to your customers have the greatest insights about them. As CIO, it’s crucial for you to listen to your front-line employees — from retail associates to field operations managers and beyond. They know what really gets in customers’ ways, and they can articulate customers’ unmet needs and desired experiences better than anyone else.

To your customers, your front-line employees literally represent the customer experience. It’s critical to empower front-line employees with the ability to solve customer problems and challenges in real-time, without depending on escalation chains that delay issue resolution. Give them the tools, technologies, and information they need to solve problems quickly and get support when they need it.

This includes tools that give your front-line employees a 360-degree view of customers. With access to mobile apps with a single, unified view of all customer information and interactions, your front-line employees will quickly see which customers are eligible for credits, product discounts, and more — allowing them to resolve issues almost instantly.

  1. Give Success a New Definition

In the new customer-centric era of business, success is no longer measured by internally-focused metrics like efficiency and cost mitigation.

Your new definition of success should revolve around customer’s impressions and the experiences you give them. To measure success today, use externally focused metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), which tracks customers’ willingness to recommend your products or services to others.

To ensure that everyone understands this, consider changing your bonus structure to include customer-centric metrics like NPS, and start celebrating employees who stand out as customer experience champions.

Also, try testing new customer-focused tactics in a small market before expanding to larger markets. This allows you to minimize risk on big changes and measure how real customers respond. Part of the new definition of success means becoming a “learning” organization that tests new ideas with real customers. This ensures you will deliver valuable experiences before spending money on the bells and whistles.

Communicate about customer experience, and look for ways to make sure everyone understands and embraces the part they play in making it happen. Remember, it’s not just about direct interactions — customer experience is impacted in many indirect ways by every single person in your organization. When everyone in your organization knows, embraces, and feels empowered by that, you’ll be well on your way to new levels of success.

Learn more about building a customer-centric organization.

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