II -Thou shalt treat thy employees as ambassadors
What if Jesus viewed his disciples as mere servants? He might have gone down in history as just another ungrateful boss, and the good word would probably have never spread. Think about your own employees not just as hired hands, but as true ambassadors. If they go forth and preach the values of your organization, this will become evident in every single customer interaction.
Why employee and customer experience go hand in hand
There is a close connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Surely happy employees make for happy customers, but it goes a little further. Employee ambassadorship means that all employees, no matter their levels or functions, are committed to delivering customer value as part of their job.
Long story short: a company should put its employees first if they want employees to put customers first. Because if employees are not loyal, engaged and happy, why would they go the extra mile to make customers happy?
How to turn employees into ambassadors
Using data in a customer-centric way –by providing the right information to your employees at every customer touchpoint – is just one part of the equation. To truly improve the customer experience, you need to achieve a culture where employees embrace a customer-centric mindset. They should be well versed in the values of your organization. But how do you achieve this?
1. It starts with management
C-level management needs to inspire ambassadorship. All CEOs value their customers. But do they value customer satisfaction just as much? Is their priority to keep customers, or to keep customers happy? This customer focus needs to be communicated and carried out authentically by the managementteam.
At companies like Colruyt Group , Torfs and Coolblue the CEOs famously focus on the employee experience in order to achieve a better customer experience. Many companies, Telenet to name one, even have a committed position for this in the C-level managementteam: a chief customer officer.
2. Empower your employees
What management shouldn’t do, however, is tell their employees how to interact with customers. They need to support and inspire their team and give them the authority to make decisions. How? By defining clear but generous boundaries in which they have the freedom to make judgment calls, and by establishing a relationship based on trust.
Technology is an enabler for better customer experiences. But make sure it serves your employees, not the other way around. You should never forget the human aspect of customer experience. When left to its own devices, an algorithm is likely to make mistakes sooner or later. One aspect of employee empowerment is allowing employees to overrule technology if necessary. Keep a human in the loop.
3. Actively work on a customer-first culture
It’s one thing to communicate the need for and value of a customer-centric culture, but companies need to put effort into training their employees, for instance, through coaching, internal communication campaigns or success stories.
Who got it right?
Authentic communication about customer-first values can be very powerful. One example of somebody who does it right is Coolblue’s CEO, Pieter Zwart. He emphasizes the importance of the firm’s customer-centric culture through internal videos directed at employees; a personal and authentic way to communicate values. It’s also a clear signal that customer satisfaction is a priority for the managementteam, and a first step towards empowering employees and turning them into ambassadors.
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