Influencing the customer-centric mindset internally will accelerate business performance

the Customer Experience Agenda
Kojo Manuel
  • Train your employees to handle CX issues appropriately

The saying goes without equivocation that every business would be more content with retaining loyal customers than acquiring new ones. To ensure that loyal customers remain, we must work tirelessly to keep them focused on our brand, ready to come back many times to repeat-buy. According to researchers, over half of consumers will abandon a planned purchase or transaction because of poor customer service. The solution is therefore is evident – that the only way to keep your customers loyal is to provide a better customer-facing experience.

Creating positive experiences for buyers and consumers does not happen on its own, unfortunately. It requires a deliberate effort on the part of leadership backed by a determined group of loyalists known as employees. Businesses can dramatically impact their growth by ensuring well-crafted customer experience management strategies and training regimes to ensure there is consistency in engaging customers proactively across all touchpoints.

This is how you retain customers and encourage repeat business. Your loyal customers will readily endorse the brand positively through a wide range of channels encompassing social media or through word of mouth and so on. The reviews shared thus are worth their weight in gold in today’s world of instant social media visibility. Customer experience training is therefore a ‘must’ for everyone in the organisation. Planning it deliberately and executing it diligently is a must if you are determined to influence a customer-centric mindset.

The pivotal role of employees in focusing on the customer as the centre of business activity must not be taken lightly. It is they (and not just management) whose actions will confirm the efficacy or otherwise of any customer-led initiative. Turning the right levers in this regard has immense benefits, as it makes all employees owners of the customer-centric agenda.

The impact of owning the customer-led internal dynamics has far-reaching implications for business performance. Making this happen is the difficult part; however, it is worthwhile as pursuing an initiative that brings everyone on board with customer needs undoubtedly has a domino-effect of driving phenomenal growth. Experts advise that we pay attention to the following: make employees feel valued, support employees, imbibe a customer-centric mindset, train employees to assuage conflict scenarios, and align everyone with the product challenges.

Make employees feel valued

Notice that in dealing with customers you rely on both your customer-facing staff who are engaging regularly with customers at the frontline and your backroom staff who provide support to the frontlines. Both have key roles to play and will pay closer attention to their roles if they feel valued and motivated. The teams who don’t face the customers directly, when trained for client experience roles feel inspired and make sure they provide a better experience for a customer next time.

An example we can consider here is the accounting team of a firm that deals with invoices and other related accounting transactions. When the trained accounting team knows what kind of experience the brand is trying to provide, their invoice emails will be more measured and no longer be cold – as they will now view the customer as a living breathing human being, with whom they are willing to engage and be more responsive to their needs. Trained employees feel well-informed and well-aligned with the organisation and the needs of the customer.

When employees feel less valued, they are very likely to take it out on your customers. The fact is they may do this unconsciously; however, the customer feels the strain of a bad relationship and won’t have any thoughts about their sentiments.  The experience shared by Yvonne in her blog about the attitude of a frontline staff just last week is a case in point. A customer-facing staff bluntly points out that a debit card was not acceptable because the POS was malfunctioning.

What’s laughable is that in another jurisdiction I encountered a malfunctioning device and was rewarded by the manager with a freebie. When employees feel less valued, they take it out on the poor customer – whose only crime is using the service at a time when an aggrieved employee is looking for an avenue to vent frustrations.

Support employees to imbibe a customer-centric mindset

Now here is the plain truth: customer experience won’t happen by chance. As much as it is for the whole organisation and not just a few individuals, getting to the point of full acceptance by all in the organisation requires great effort and attention to detail from management right down to the cleaner. It is important to provide customer experience management training to all teams. Doing this consistently will aid in enhancing customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction in the long run.

The effect is phenomenal, as every single employee that the customer deals with speaks with a consistent voice and tone. Years ago, my brother happened to be in Papua New Guinea on a business trip and was put up in one of the hotels. According to him, every time he walked into the restaurant he was met by a friendly waiter who would mention his first-name and exchange brief pleasantries with him. Now don’t tell me that encounter was random, because this happened every day and they were different people.

So, the drive-thru experience of Yvonne is a classic case of a clueless employee who lacks understanding of the harm her attitude does to the customer’s experience (and by extension the employee experience). Or perhaps it’s just that she is ignorant of or lacks the customer-centric mindset. Be that as it may, her failure is largely a leadership failure and needs to be addressed quickly to prevent further harm to the brand. The fact is, if you go on this way just wait till competitors get it right. You will be singing a swansong and musing too little too late.

According to research by Forrester Research, making good customer experiences better leads to a larger revenue gain than making poor experiences. An exceptional customer experience can lead to advocacy, enrichment and client retention, which all have loyalty-driven revenue potential. When customer experience training is prioritised, it helps in understanding the impact of a good customer experience regime on revenue as your loyal customers ‘loyally blow your trumpet’.

Train employees to assuage conflict scenarios

As human beings, we must accept the fact that conflicts are inevitable. This notwithstanding, we must not ignore or mismanage conflict situations; we do so at our peril. We must address conflicts at their earliest stages to prevent the catalytic harm it does to businesses when left unattended. Customer experience strategy training gives a proper orientation to employees on how employees are to tackle a conflict.

Training will turn on the light-bulb and enlighten employees to engage more proactively with customers and focus on resolutions as opposed to letting fly their own emotions. Things like using the correct tone and being neutral can help turn around a conflict situation and bring in solutions which lead to memorable experiences. It brings to the fore Voice of the Customer insights and with it the Voice of the Employee. Make the two go hand in hand.

The orientation to help clients resolve tricky situations becomes engrained, and as a result the attitude is one showing we are there to help, and an atmosphere is created that signals to everyone we are quick to respond even when things go wrong – as they inevitably will on occasion. Simon Sinek British – American author and inspirational speaker – sums it all up when he says: “100% of customers are people, 100% of employees are people; if you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business”.

Align everyone with the product challenges

Employees must be supported to develop confidence in addressing whatever questions, queries and feedback customers come up with over time. Being proactive about this will enable you to deal with increasing competition in the market. The key is that, as a business, you shouldn’t sit and assume what challenges they might face while providing a better CX. To prepare yourself for such situations, invest in training your employees. When you give employees Customer experience management training, they gain insight into how to address tricky situations with clients.

Note that product knowledge is not the preserve of sales-staffers who need to know the specs and features of a product. Most people associate customer service with complaints, returns and other front-end tasks. However, they must also be well-versed in product specs and features to find suitable replacements and step into sales roles when necessary. For example, when no sales employees are available and the customer is growing impatient. Or when a customer has decided to return an item, and the customer service staffer recommends another item to save the sale.

I recall a personal experience from years ago in my role as an IT specialist, when a consultant came in to implement a major ERP product for my company. By way of initiative, I took the opportunity to learn a few workarounds from him, and Paul Colin (that was him) generously answered my probing questions. It turned out one day that one of our expatriate staff had travelled to a branch of my company and got stuck working on the system.

He called the software company for help and nobody was available, Paul was also unreachable so somebody recommended that he call me: and guess what, the problem was one of those I had diligently mastered from my interaction with Paul. I turned into a hero on the day; and boy, did it feel good.

When staff is well-oriented with customer issues, they willingly step in at the right moments to deal with them. Talk about moments of truth in customer engagements, you will have a plethora of these when the customer’s first sentiments are shared by all.

Rethinking your experience strategy to step-up growth: Keep doing what works best and aim to improve   The Writer is a Change Management and Customer Experience Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205,

[email protected],




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