That the ‘customer is king’ and customer experience (CX) is the new battleground for businesses to compete is not lost on business leaders. Excellence in customer experience has a direct impact on the bottom line, business growth, and return to shareholders. This fact has been well documented. But what is in customer experience for employees and are there rewards for delivering excellent customer experience?
Here is a true story of a customer experience officer. For the purposes of this story, call her Nicole. Nicole was a contract staff in one of the branches of a bank in the airport area in Accra, Ghana. She was good at delivering excellent customer experience – it was her habit. Great as she was, she was overlooked for promotion and never made a permanent staff of the bank for many years.
Colleagues who joined the bank after her and whom she trained got promoted and were made permanent while she remained a contract staff. Depressed as she was about her situation, this never affected the service experience she delivered to customers. She applied for job openings in the bank but was never successful. It was as though the system conspired against her progress within the bank.
One fateful evening, just before the branch closed for business that day, Nicole’s branch manager told her that the Managing Director (MD) wanted to see Nicole together with her branch manager at the MD’s office the following morning. Nicole was scared and couldn’t sleep that night. What could be the matter? What has she done and was she going to be fired? These were some of the thoughts that ran through Nicole’s mind all night. Morning came and she entered the MD’s office. The MD was rather warm and pleasant when Nicole and her branch manager entered. “Are you Nicole?” MD asked. “Yes Sir.” In a trembling voice, Nicole responded.
Here is why the MD requested to see Nicole. A few weeks earlier, as was Nicole’s habit, she delivered an excellent service to a walk-in customer at the branch. This customer was very impressed with the service experience. This being her first time in Africa, the customer was completely blown away by this experience. When she returned to London, she decided to send a thank you message to the Group CEO of the bank and to share her experience in Africa. She sent a nice email to the Group CEO, who in turn forwarded the email to the country MD.
Her email read something like this: “I was in a country called Ghana, in Africa. It was obviously my first time, as you know. I went to one of your local branches in the airport area to carry out a transaction. I was pleasantly surprised about the level of professionalism and service excellence displayed by the staff. There was this young lady by the name Nicole A. She was super excellent. She smiled, made eye contact, and said hello. She introduced herself by her name and asked for mine. She asked how she could assist me that day. She listened attentively, clarified my request, and set expectations on how long the transaction was going to take.
After the transaction, she asked me if there was anything else she could help me with. She addressed me by my name and kept a beautiful smile on throughout our conversations. She displayed deep knowledge of the bank’s products but beyond that, her knowledge of current affairs locally and globally was very impressive. The customer concluded: “Your service delivery in Ghana is certainly comparable to what I experience in Singapore and London. There is consistency in your brand promise so keep it up.”
Certainly, by now, you can imagine how Nicole’s career changed in the bank. Her career didn’t just change, it accelerated. Nicole shared this story in a CX training session. I can recount many more similar stories.
At a personal level, I recalled how a customer literally gave me a job during a role-play interview at Marks and Spencer in October 2003. Part of my interview for the role of sales adviser was customer interaction on the shop floor while my interviewer (to be supervisor) was observing. The role play went so well that when the customer discovered that this was an interview, she begged the interviewer to give me the job and so I got my M&S job.
Here are a few lessons from both stories:
- We all are customers in some shape and form. So, how do you want to be treated as a customer? Do unto others as you want them to do to you.
- Excellence is a habit, not an accident. Habits are formed, they are not made up. Be genuine in your customer interactions.
- Rewards in life don’t always come from where we expect them. Nicole’s story is a great example of how a customer can promote you even if your boss doesn’t. Just do your job well.
- What you do well is your CV. Your CV is a summary of all the relevant and exciting things you do- the little achievements each day. Make customer experience part of your CV.
- Customer could be anyone- a husband, a wife, your boss, children, colleagues at work, etc. People usually don’t remember everything you say, but they remember the experience.
The Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana joins the world in celebrating all customers, especially those of the banking industry. The customer, as we all agree, is the lifeblood of a business.