Customer Focus by Design means road-mapping a strategic solution that puts your customers first. A great customer service reputation can carry an organization far, even helping to cover-up or make-up for other shortcomings in seemingly more important areas, like product, price and perceived value. Gregg Baron is one of North America’s foremost customer experience experts and has helped hundreds of companies “up their game” in this critical area for client retention. He begins the process with a CFS (customer focus survey), which asks his clients a series of pointed questions, intended to reveal blind spots and inspire solutions. This week, Gregg shares the same CFS he uses with his own clients. Take 5-minutes to read Gregg’s 20 question CFS, with your business in mind. How do you measure up? Do any of these questions reveal an area of customer focus that you hadn’t considered? This is a tremendous opportunity to help self-diagnose those customer experience areas where you could improve and — in turn — insure your organization’s ability to retain and GROW your existing client relationships! PS: We LOVE feedback! Your suggestions and ideas inspire us to be better. Don’t forget to leave us your insights in the comments section below the story.
Customer Focus by Design
by Gregg Baron
How does your organization rate when it comes to its customer focus?
The following questions are a small part of a succesful in-depth process that I’ve designed for my organization, Success Sciences’ when we’re asked to consult with organizations in the area of managing their customer experience. The process begins with customized questions similar to the sample below and generates others as one of our consultant’s interviews employees, managers, executives and customers.
The answers to these questions are the start to uncovering insights about the degree an organization is customer focused. Try responding informally to these questions with your organization in mind. Circle anything that is a potential concern.
- Do we have a clear and credible service strategy? (How specifically is it designed to add value to the customer experience? How does it differentiate us?) How does it enhance retention and share of customers spend?
- If yes, has it been clearly articulated to everyone in the organization? Can all of our customer contact leaders articulate it? Do our customer contact people consistently live it?
- Do we effectively and consistently identify and remove constraints and obstacles to the customer experience that we have committed to?
- How easy is it for our customers to do business with us? How do we really know? Do we make it easy and rewarding to get open/honest/direct/actionable feedback from our customers?
- How many “hoops” do we put customers through when they make “slightly out of the ordinary” requests?
- Do we know the expectations our customers have when it comes to our responsiveness? How long does it take for us to answer the phone vs. what they expect? Return messages?
- Are we hiding behind emails and texts or do we work to actually connect with our customers voice to voice and or face to face when possible? Do we know what they prefer?
- Do we respond to customers on our time schedule or theirs? What would they say?
- Are we regularly measuring customer perceptions of our service quality? Are we turning that data into actionable steps including rewarding and recognizing excellence?
- What are the ongoing situations that cause dis-ease (problems) for our customers (inconveniences, tension, or concern?) What possible opportunities do these problems represent?
- Who on our team owns the identification and tracking of customer dissatisfaction? How effective are our processes for capturing issues and opportunities and facilitating action? Think of working on the Customer Focus of your organization as the foundation of REPUTATION MANAGEMENT for your Company and the value that it has. The experience you create for customers and prospects at all of your touch points is the dominant factor in customer retention and profitability (NPS).
- Do our training programs effectively prepare our employees to manage the customer experience by managing customer expectations for reliability, responsiveness and our standards for relationships?
- Do we encourage our employees to “police” the system and enforce policies or do we encourage and reward them to find creative ways to satisfy customers’ needs, wants and expectations profitably? What would our customers say?
- Are our employees evaluated and rewarded for one thing and asked to do something else?
- When have we asked employees about mixed messages or old policies and procedures that don’t support the targeted customer experience optimally?
- Do we regularly request feedback from employees to identify customer concerns and to suggest ways to improve? How frequently and sincerely do we ask about employee concerns? What do we do with the findings?
- Have our managers created a high engagement culture? A coaching culture? A customer focused culture?
- Have our managers made speaking with customers a regular part of their work?
- Do we as leaders model outstanding service for employees or do our decisions and behaviors send a different message?
- Have we established recovery strategies and service parameters for frontline employees for those times when we “drop the ball?” or for whatever reason customer expectations have not been met?
When we talk about enhancing your organizations “customer focus” we are referring to designing and executing a shift in your culture. Ideally, it’s developing a healthy obsession with managing the customer and prospect experience. That starts with truly understanding what customers expect compared to what they experience. Aligning the customer experience to your brand promise is usually missed when an initiative like this is launched.
Design your customer and prospect experiences (at all touch points) to be consistent and appropriately distinct. Doing so requires a significant strategic effort and tactical execution.
- Select, train, incentivize and performance manage the best people you can to “manage” the customer experience.
- Update and upgrade your systems and processes to be aligned with your brand promise and targeted experience.
- Build a customer focused culture because culture trumps everything else you can possibly do.
Committing to this represents an enormous opportunity for your organization.
Gregg Baron, CMC, is a certified management consultant at Success Sciences. Gregg has extensive experience in the areas of enhancing customer loyalty and retention, sales performance, and the leadership practices for leading change. Some of his clients include Verizon, Honeywell, Comcast, Novartis, KPMG, JPMorgan Chase, Con Edison, American Express Travel, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines.
His last book Leadership without Excuses: How to Create Accountability and High Performance, was published by McGraw-Hill. He founded Success Sciences, which is headquartered in Tampa, in 1986.
To explore your issues and approaches for enhancing sales performance and service quality, contact Gregg’s team at Success Sciences today about a no obligation exploration of “the possible.”