Is Your Company Offering a Consistently Great Customer Experience?



Hypergrowth is a double-edged sword. Along with the adrenaline boost that comes from fulfilling orders and servicing customers, growth can fuel new stress and anxiety as well. It's a good problem to have, but as a leader, you need to prepare your teams to handle the onslaught of new challenges.

Many successful companies experience mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations at some point in their evolution, sometimes even all three. Such milestone events can cause shifts in production, work flow, best practices, and your approach to routine business operations. If your business is growing along with your annual revenue and customer base, and you think it will successfully sustain this increase without an equivalent increase in staff or expenses, you are in for a rude awakening.

As your organization undergoes changes, customer experiences can vary and may suffer greatly. Business leaders need to understand the importance of redefining their approach to makethese transitions as smooth and easy as possible, for the employees and especially for customers, who are the lifeblood of your success. Following are some ways to do just that.

Admit When There Is a Problem

Every business has all-star employees who are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, work extra hours, cover for newer employees, and do anything in their power to ensure the customer is taken care of. However, you can't rely on this pool of employees to carry the weight of the entire organization. There are simply not enough of them. If customers are not receiving the same quality of service consistently, you will eventually start to hear complaints.

Get Past the Surface Tension and Go Deep

It's easier to spot a problem than to understand its root cause. As you attempt to identify the underlying reasons for your disruption, complaints, or inconsistencies in service, consider the ratio of employees to customers, the quality of these employees, and how you train them. Are you giving them the tools they need to be successful? Are you incentivizing and rewarding them properly? Is there more you could do to keep your employees motivated and happy with their roles in the organization? Oftentimes it is not as simple as just hiring more people.

Another huge factor to consider is consistency. When you peel back the layers, you may realize that you have the right people with the right training, but that they are all approaching their jobs and helping customers in a different way. This will inevitably lead to substantial variations in customer experience. Even if your metrics show that the average customer experience is okay, the variation of experiences can be more extreme. This is something you won't see unless you really take a good hard look at your approach.

A good place to start when your customer service is inconsistent is with a review and redocumentation of your support processes. This can be overwhelming, and you may want to call experts in to help. Whatever route you take, doing this helps you determine the absolute best practices and the changes you need to implement.

Measure, Then Measure Again

Some of the tools we have found most effective are the Six Sigma business techniques that help identify best practices and processes to root out the internal failures within an organization. Businesses should invest and train employees across all departments and from all levels of the organization in these techniques.

Another strategy you can employ is hiring third-party experts to measure and collect data from your customers regarding their experiences. Using outside experts can ensure the data collected is accurate, timely, and pure.

One of Six Sigma's philosophies is to "let data lead the way," versus relying on your gut or emotions. If you constantly measure customer satisfaction and customer engagement across your organization, you will be able to spot emerging trends before they become customer-affecting issues. If you have granular insight down to a subdepartmental level, you will be able to see the effects that small and large changes have on your processes.

Continual Refinement

The fruits of your struggles, labor, and investments will pay off, especially where it matters most, for the customers. With time, constant tweaks and refinements to your processes, your performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement are likely to reap greater results than you had anticipated—as long as you stick with it. As a direct result, customer retention will increase as well.

This is an ongoing process. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was right when he wrote, "The only thing that is constant is change." Even though you have refined and redefined your best practices, they will need to change along with customer behavior and expectations.

Continual focus and refinement is key. If you want to stay on top and keep your customers loyal, give them great service and support paired with dependable products and services. A process-driven organization that realizes long-term investments and acceptance of change will come out ahead every time.