Behaviours at the front line are being driven by the need to deliver a score rather than an experience.
As I sit in the car showroom waiting for my invoice to be printed out, the Sales Advisor passes me an iPad and asks if I’d mind completing a customer satisfaction survey.
He explains it’s from head office and it’s really important for him. He then explains that in the next few days I’ll receive a dealership survey from the car manufacturer and that the scores from the manufacturer survey make a big difference to the dealership (which is true – given how manufacturers reward dealers).
Hang on! So this whole wonderful purchase experience is now overshadowed by the need to complete an NPS survey so that the dealership gets a good review…and the person I’m reviewing is sitting right in front of me.
Shouldn’t the whole purpose of measuring my satisfaction be to improve my experience? Yet, here I am feeling under pressure, a bit uncomfortable and frankly a pit peeved that I’m having to undertake more paperwork - simply to ensure the right ‘score’ for the dealership.
I know this is not specific to one particular dealership or car manufacturing as a sector but it is symptomatic of the increasing focus on NPS or CSat scores as both a measure of customer satisfaction and a proxy for improved performance.
The attraction of a 20% improvement in Customer Satisfaction increasing revenue by 15% (McKinsey & Co) or 86% of buyers being willing to pay more for a better experience (Forbes) is a no brainer. However, it now seems that behaviours at the front line, where it matters the most in terms of the customer, are being driven by the need to deliver a score rather than an experience.
Meanwhile, back at head office, they will be nodding sagely as scores increase, thinking that the business is improving or, perhaps more likely, wondering why improving NPS scores are not translating through to the promised business benefits. And therein lies the dilemma.
Measurement is clearly important, but what’s far more important is how any measurement process is used to drive behavior at the front line and head office. Instead of a broad brush tick box exercise around measurement, which will only ever result in a quantitative ‘survey’ approach with your customers (as well as an aftertaste of annoyance), businesses should be thinking more qualitatively to use their NPS process to change specific activities and actions.
Here’s our top five things to think about to ensure your NPS or CSat measurement process actually improves your customer experience:
Be specific - discuss and agree at Head Office what particular processes need to be looked at and focus your measurement approach on talking to customers about how they would like these to be different
Provide training - train and monitor your frontline staff on the behaviours you want and expect to see for the benefit of the customer, including how to approach the customer satisfaction measurement process
Educate people - Remind all of your people that NPS or CSat is simply a tool to help focus on what’s important and not an objective or outcome in it’s own right. The objective is a happy customer not a completed survey
Reward the right behaviours – Ensure the reward model drives the right behaviours that does not rely solely on the scores. Look instead at the outcomes and behaviours that determine the scores
Engage the whole business – It’s not just front line employees who can impact on customer satisfaction. Ensure that approporiate customer measures are embedded across the organisation.
We all know about the carrot and stick syndrome. It's human nature to do what gets measured. If you want to get the desired results from a customer experience point view, take the target of NPS away and embed a more holistic approach to customer satisfaction insight instead. After all any NPS scores are only ever directional, pointing out the areas that, from a customer perspective, require attention.
The next time you look at your customer experience measures, NPS or CSat, reflect on how these numbers and importantly, the process that generates them, are tangibly helping to improve the customer experience or are they simply being viewed as a target to be hit?
The airline industry is a highly competitive one. Technology, hand in hand with a human touch, will deliver better experiences for customers. The challenge is in the alignment of the culture, processes, systems and capability of the organisation, with the needs of customers in a way that employees are empowered and engaged to deliver. That goes for at any point in their customer experience, but is even more of a priority in times or disruption.
Customers need their experiences to be seamless and without friction. Importantly, they also hope that any problem will be proactively owned and resolved quickly and satisfactorily by the company or organisation with whom they are interacting.
When talking about touch points and channels, we refer most often to those within our control e.g. the call centre, email, the physical store, social media. We don’t often consider those which are delivered by another organisation for example a business partner. Companies seem only too ready to hand over responsibility for the customer to their partner. Yet some seem quick to blame them when things go wrong and act as judge and jury when their NPS scores, say, are not up to scratch. Delegating companies often seem to want it
What Alamo have done is they have not only managed to improve the customer journey and eradicate pain points or friction but have succeeded in elevating the customer experience and at the same time, become more operationally efficient. Smiles all round.
If we were to compare the energy sector to that of aviation, Richard Branson summed it up very well: “Look, I think that when we started Virgin Atlantic 30 years ago, we had one 747 competing with the airlines that had an average of 300 planes each. Every single one of those have gone bankrupt because they didn’t have customer service. They had might, but they didn’t have customer service, so customer service is everything in the end.” What will the energy sector look like in 10, 20 or 30 years if things don’t change?
AI in its current form is only part of the solution. AI requires a deeper understanding of customer needs so that it is an enabler rather than the answer for its own sake. The balance of AI vs. human interactions in the Customer Experience needs to be carefully orchestrated.
Does your C-Suite champion the Customer Experience? Is your CEO committed to Customer Experience success? The protagonists in your customer experience need to be shrewdly put in place.
As is often quoted, Customer Experience is not a department; it is a culture, a mindset and a way of doing business. CEO’s need to lead from the top, instilling this philosophy whilst harnessing their employees to deliver a consistent and valuable experience for customers over the long-term.
There are many more ‘excellent’ brands in the US in terms of customer experience. Some 58 brands (up from 24) in the US this year are categorized as delivering an ‘excellent’ or outstanding customer experience, according to the KMPG Nunwood calculations. Compare this to just four companies who cross that threshold in the UK. Evidently this means that brands in the UK are lagging by a factor of 15.
What would happen if your favourite coffee shop started acting like a bank? With an automated order system producing your caffeine fix based on assumptions, there would be no chance of a tall, soya milk cappuccino with sugar free vanilla syrup and an extra shot of Guatemalan espresso!
Customer Experience transformation requires a joined-up understanding of the end to end customer journey and the role that the call centre plays in this customer journey. Add to that, the challenge of how to align the role of technology related touchpoints and establish how humans and technology co-exist seamlessly (another subject for another day)!
Surveys are a key part of the big business of Customer Experience Management and Voice of Customer programmes – but they have become a victim of their own success. Your survey should be just one tool, supporting a wider customer experience measurement model.