Customer Contact

Customer experience transformation requires passion. Often, this passion needs encouragement and guidance, perhaps a person or a small team of managers who can unite employees behind a clear vision, and exponentially improve the quality of the overall customer experience. It might be a cliché, but the need to have everybody ‘on the same page’ is critical to CX management success, as it facilitates consistency across all channels, and promotes harmony amongst colleagues and customers alike.

The power of core values

With the best customer experience brands, employees are typically led by CEOs who are CX pioneers. They set the agenda and build customer culture from the top down with a sincere, almost religious, enthusiasm. This is still a developing situation in the UK, but in America it is a pattern that keeps repeating, with countless examples of company leaders who possess an infectious obsession with customer satisfaction.

This was certainly true of S. Truett Cathy, the founder of the US restaurant brand Chick-fil-A. He once said that his company was not based in the chicken business, but the people business, with the organisation’s core values being underpinned by a strong Christian ethic – namely, to demonstrate compassion and humility for the glory of God. Indeed, Cathy ensured that such a sentiment was reflected in his company purpose, which stated that Chick-fil-A’s goal was to be a faithful steward of all that had been entrusted to it, and to have a positive influence on all who came into contact with the brand.

Such an attitude can lead to a radical customer experience transformation, and indeed it did for Chick-fil-A. Today, the company currently sits at number five in the American CEE rankings, making it the highest-scoring restaurant brand in the country. However, such a transformation would not have been easy without colleague buy-in, as it is impossible for a person to act as a faithful steward and to have a positive influence if the act is insincere. Chick-fil-A’s staff are renowned for ending an interaction with, “It’s my pleasure,” and this statement would have little effect if the diner felt that it was dishonest.

Moreover, the need for workers to become emotionally invested in the company’s vision isn’t merely required for transformation – it’s part of the brand’s recruitment process. Cathy once pointed out that it was easier for people to work for the CIA than Chick-fil-A, referring to the rigour with which it tests its potential employees. Once hired, however, it is clear that colleagues take hold of the company vision with honest enthusiasm, from simple touches like providing extra napkins and using customers’ first names, to larger gestures such as greeting diners with umbrellas on rainy days.

Happy workers lead to happy customers

The CEO does not always have to be the driving force, however. There are some companies in the UK that have achieved a comparable level of transformation without a sole CX pioneer. One example is first direct, which claimed second place in the2015 CEE. One of the virtues of this organisation is that it looks after its workers, helping them to feel more positively towards the business and therefore more committed to its success. This means that its interactions are more fruitful, with employees showing relentless determination to do what is best for the customer, rather than the company bank balance.

If brands such as Chick-fil-A or first direct were less consistent, with no obvious direction for its workers to move in, they would undoubtedly become less motivated and less productive in their interactions, and the overall customer experience would become stagnated. Unity, therefore, is essential for growth and transformation, and this can be led by CX pioneers fashioned in the likeness of S. Truett Cathy, or by a strong ‘team’ ethos, as seen in companies such as first direct. One thing that colleagues should not be, however, is indifferent, as this can be the first sign of difficulties on a broader scale.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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