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?
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.
It’s all well and good jumping into customer experience improvement and acting on customer feedback, but it won’t make a fundamental difference if the organisation isn’t aligned to deliver the customer experience that’s required. Companies need to find a way of establishing why and how everyone’s role is related to the customer. Silos are not conducive to customer experience excellence or a customer centric organisation.
What I am trying to highlight is that I fear many organisations have implemented transactional customer feedback or nps programmes that aren’t delivering the insight or value that is needed. Getting the timing of the survey right is a quick fix. If all the customer’s pain points along the end to end journey are known and focused on, then expectations can be managed and promises will be kept.
Any successful customer experience strategy is really about nailing what your customers want in a way that both your leadership love and your people can deliver. Without the genuine support of the leadership team across the organisation, it becomes very difficult to really change what the business promises its customers and how its people deliver (or don’t deliver) on those promises.
On Thursday last week, Debenhams' new (since October) chief executive Sergio Bucher unveiled his strategic vision for the future growth of the department store group. It focuses on making Debenhams stores a more enjoyable destination for 'social shopping'. The plans for change sound promising but Debenhams as a well recognised brand is not necessarily associated with innovation or known for its inspiring customer experience. Mr. Bucher’s ambition raises some immediate questions