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Why do over 70% of managers think that their customer service is better than it actually is?

Based on more than 14 years of Investor in Customers (IIC) assessments, the statistics above are some of our most revealing, yet, not surprising.

Why is this no surprise?

Our data highlights that the misalignment between customer, employee and manager perspectives is a common thread within most organisations. Without connectivity between these parties, there will always be gaps in customer service delivery.

The disconnect between key stakeholders is responsible for millions, if not billions, of pounds lost every single year in wasted time, initiatives and concepts which miss the mark trying to improve the customer experience (CX).

However, fixing the disconnect is more complex than simply realigning different stakeholder perspectives. Without the right feedback from customers, the action to create a cohesive customer journey cannot be taken.

Individual heads of departments need to take responsibility for gathering and integrating customer feedback into their strategies. But, most importantly, they need to share these insights with the whole organisation so they can be used to develop the overall company vision, improving the CX and ensuring it is consistent across every touchpoint.

The Challenge

Managers, companywide, need to evaluate the business as a whole. However, too many look at most aspects of the business in isolation and treat their staff and customers in the same way. They are focusing only on their department and their remit; giving them a skewed vision of the customer experience. As a result, they may genuinely believe the customer service offering they provide is exceptional, whereas the actual picture may not be so rosy.

The recent 2020, CX Industry Survey conducted by User Testing suggests:

Just as there’s a disconnect between what teams aspire to achieve and what they do, there’s also a gap between the importance organisations place on CX and the execution on strategies and structures to make that possible.

So, what’s the solution?

Each and every department within your organisation needs to sing from the same hymn sheet. Developing a customer-centric culture at the very heart of your business will ensure that connections are made, endure and strengthen over time.

A proactive approach is required to gather customer feedback, act-upon it regularly and anticipate needs rather than reacting when problems arise.

How can you help your managers to see an accurate picture of the customer experience?
1.    Paint a bigger picture.

There must be a clear vision and supporting strategy which is focused solely on CX. While this needs to come from the top and reach every single employee, it has to be developed based on all stakeholder feedback including employees, customers and investors.

Leaders must insist that every manager considers themselves a part of the whole: one piece of a much bigger picture. Only then can managers begin to understand the importance of their role in evaluating their department in the context of a broader spectrum.

An excellent example of this is a singular moment of clarity during a Boardroom meeting where I was presenting assessment feedback to a customer.

I asked if there were any questions, and one of the team raised their hand and said.

“How do we do this at the same time as our day job?”

The reply was swift and came straight from the CEO of the company.

                                 “Customer Experience IS your day job!”

Every employee MUST understand and share the vision no matter what role they perform, which department they work in or how often they come into contact with customers. They must consider themselves integral to the overall customer experience.

2.    Identify the misalignment between Sales, Marketing, HR and other key departments.

Departmental silos are hugely detrimental to firms because they create an unwillingness or inability to share information between departments. A working environment whereby departments are working in isolation means that gaps in sales and service delivery consistently occur.

For example, sales may be targeting one specific audience, while marketing is advertising and trying to attract another. Time and resources are wasted, and the customer journey is interrupted and disjointed. Only when these departments understand that they are co-dependent on one another can they start to develop a cohesive and efficient customer journey. There needs to be considerable overlap and interactions to ensure the gaps are filled, and the customer journey is seamless.

3.    Remove the tunnel vision. 

As an individual department, perhaps they are doing well, but this only takes into consideration one set of results and feedback. If you’re asking your customers about a single incident; a step in the customer service journey, then their feedback may reflect positively. However, when you discuss their overall experience, the results may not be the same. Sharing feedback, both positive and negative, will enable leaders to fill in the gaps where the customer experience is lacking. In contrast, it will also encourage other departments to adopt strategies that are working well in different areas and accelerate those results across the board.

4.    Take into consideration ALL of the numbers.

Let me rephrase that; departments or business units only consider THEIR numbers or even worse, they solely focus on the current year’s results, totally overlooking the fact that it takes time to embed a CX programme effectively.

Taken on trust a single set of numbers, compared with last year’s results may show an increase in revenue, profit, and customers gained and retained. However, when you begin to compare them with other departments or an even broader measure; your competition, do they stack up?

You cannot look at departmental numbers through a keyhole; they must be analysed and assessed on a bigger scale and put into context, without which it’s merely just a number.

Strong collaborations must be encouraged to share data for the benefit of the whole.

At IIC, we have seen significant increases in overall performance due to sharing figures and insights and to replicate successful behaviours across the organisation.

5.    Encourage a proactive approach.

Our figures consistently show that when a proactive approach to the CX is adopted the numbers for revenue and growth increase. However, with other distractions taking priority, companies are guilty of taking a wholly reactive response to customer feedback, only taking action when things go wrong.

Organisations must implement consistent and frequent opportunities for customers and employees to give feedback. At the same time, managers must prioritise time to share the feedback with their colleagues and take a pro-active approach to use this data to develop innovative strategies which improve customer and employee experiences.

If only there were a single vision, a clear strategy which leaders can follow that would deliver increased retention, loyalty, growth and profitability, not just for your customers but for your employees too.

There is. The data and feedback we receive from our customers shows that companies who regularly evaluate their business as a whole benefit from increased engagement and accelerated growth. They achieve this by creating a seamless customer journey which every single member of the organisation plays a part in delivering.

In the last 10 months, we have been fortunate enough to receive 5 awards from our peers within the insurance industry. One area that sets us apart from our competition, and was mentioned by the judges, is our relationship with IIC. For us, this is a clear differentiator from our competition and is solid evidence of the service that we deliver to our clients.

It’s easy to say you deliver good customer service - we can prove it.”

Director, Square Mile Broking (Now SR Insurance Solutions)