Let your experience be proven


 …Be intentional about listening to drive growth effortlessly

The average business will share with pride their distinction in customer engagement and tell as many stories or showcase some scenarios to prove that their reputation is not a fluke. However true this is it makes more sense to share these amazing stories when you have deliberately measured and reported very specifically on incidents that have occurred at your touchpoints where customers have felt really good about your service delivery and are willingly sharing their experience to anyone they can perhaps with equal zeal as the Samaritan woman from the bible. Having met Jesus at the well.

Ian Golding in his book identifies a few challenges that companies could face if their data was not properly managed. He uses a what-if scenario to assess what this means for the small business lacking the capacity to track the voice of the Customer with sophisticated processes and large businesses where formal roles exist to advocate for the customer internally. The underlying issue here is that managing customer data for insights is critical regardless of the size or scale of operation of any business. Therefore, pay attention to it we must at all cost. When the data is used optimally it is highly advantageous to the business.

Tracking data effectively may not necessarily require sophisticated processes however the right metrics must be tracked. Data is in abundant supply, transforming the data into actionable insights is where the challenge is. In a customer-centric culture the customer’s voice rings loudest and is easily recognizable. It is not a random occurrence. It is the result of deliberate efforts and organized processes to ensure that every touchpoint is well-monitored. Having a listening culture enables you to discern from evidence of engagements the necessary adjustments you need to make in response.

When touchpoints are carefully (and consistently) monitored there is also a willingness to act quickly to keep customers happy. An internal culture supportive of the customer must have certain fundamentals in place. First, A Customer Experience lead with enough influence to drive changes, second, effective reporting systems that quickly identify pain points for quick action, management buy-in, and a suite of voices to keep customer needs in focus from the employee through to process and customer ultimately.

Leading the Experience Culture

Renowned leadership expert, John Maxwell famously said ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’ CX leaders understand customer needs and have great empathy for them. In their role within the business, they strive to establish a unified view of the customer and bring their influence to bear on every customer-related issue ensuring the customer’s concerns are given top priority. Effective data monitoring will strengthen and facilitate a duck to water response to customer needs with remarkable swiftness and accuracy. Voice of the Customer (including employees and stakeholders) are pivotal for CX success.

Start by ensuring that you have a well-designed journey map in place to establish a unified view of the customer across all touchpoints. Your customers see very quickly how a consistently good customer experience emanates from your internal processes and culture and are willing to respond in kind by showing their loyalty to your brand. In our contemporary world, customer expectations are at all time high standards coupled with their capacity to influence outcomes in their favour using a plethora of channels from social media, online outlets to traditional (brick and mortar) models.

The reason many businesses are failing to make headway in their quest to keep customers loyal is because they overlook the most important factor in the business equation – the customer.  A genuine customer-centred organization nurtures all its relationships and is driven by a desire to serve all its customers to the best of its ability. According to industry practitioners, an effective Customer Experience lead ensures this by working with managers and leaders, to help them understand what they are trying to achieve and why. Become all things to all men (and women) to win friends from the operations right up to the boardroom.

Promote an all-inclusive culture and demonstrate that you are willing and ready to ask for the help of fellow managers in working with or generating support from other departments, and with senior leadership in turn. Listen consistently to feedback and look for solutions together to inspire and influence others to see the CX light.

Effective Reporting Systems

To drive a customer-centric culture one needs a strong business case for the changes required to influence management and leadership. The point here is not to generate nice-looking graphs and reports. The ultimate goal is to provide great experiences to your customer. This means being intentional about listening at points where experiences are happening, the frontlines. There is no shortage of fit for purpose software tools to help you listen in at all the right places be it your website, social media, apps, or physical locations. Reporting from the variety of sources available to you enables you to develop a comprehensive picture of the customer’s concerns.

Researchers today attest to the fact that everything about the customer is changing. We live in a world today where change is happening faster than the rate of learning. Learning opportunities are presented to us limitlessly very frequently. These include motivations, connections, expectations, time, and purchasing power. Consequently, according to the report, ‘what was previously considered to be a great customer experience has no longer been good enough and almost all businesses have been thrust into reorganizing their approach to customers. Consequently, failing to listen is a highly perilous.

Businesses that don’t detect these shifts, and respond quickly by building strategies based on the new realities and lives of the customers they serve, will struggle to remain relevant in today’s marketplace. In our world today the fast pace of change requires a different learning approach to keep pace with the change. With effective reporting systems, you are empowered and better able to address any concerns with dispatch.  The new reality customer believes that a great customer experience is no longer good enough so firms must respond by investing more in customer relationships.

Efficient reporting will ensure that almost all businesses recognize that their approach to customers needs significant adjustments to stay relevant. According to Julio Hernandez Head of Global Customer Center of Excellence, KPMG International “Experiences in the new reality need to be immersive, emotionally connective, and overtly safe. This demands a connected organization where every capability is symbiotic and digitally aligned front to back to deliver an intentional customer experience.”  This affirms the key role of technology in keeping on top of things but so too the human intervention that complements technology.

Management Role in driving the Experience

Getting executive buy-in for customer experience has always been a challenge. According to Shaun Belding, author of The Journey to WOW, executives are more committed to launching new initiatives than listening to the Voice of the Customer and making the customer experience a true priority. According to him leaders are heard regularly expressing frustration variously and failing to act on the customer agenda. In the last CXP Ghana annual conference a call was made to CEOs to be more frequent in engaging with frontline operations to develop customer empathy. This should not be a one-off activity during customer service week.

According to him frustrated CX leaders are heard saying any of the following, “We just report our Net Promoter Score results, but don’t do anything”, “All we’ve done is have endless committee meetings”, “My VP doesn’t want to hear customer feedback”, “I don’t think our CEO knows what CX means” and “We were in the process of implementing the CX vision when marketing surprised us with a new one.” They link this to one factor which is the confusion between customer experience and customer service.  The two are certainly not the same. One subsumes the other, we must get the order right customer service is only a touchpoint.

Tavsan and Erdem (2016) assert that any organization looking to implement a customer-centric agenda will need a top management that is more focused on transformational leadership as opposed to transactional. The reason is that to transform an organization one needs to influence the whole organization and not just a few individual behaviour changes. Transformational leaders will foster positive employee attitudes, develop employees, delegate, and will focus on entrenching new values to drive organizational growth with the long term in mind. To borrow an expression from the CXP Ghana conference “Happy employees means happy customers”.

Listening to the right voices

There are three main voices we must listen to if we want to excel in customer experience. These are the voice of the Customer, Voice of the Employee, and voice of Process. Voice of Customer’s feedback Customer is used to describe your customer feedback about their experience and expectations of your products or services. Key questions arising here include customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement opportunities. For example, you could run a survey to understand how customers feel about a new initiative to introduce a subscription plan offered to them by your insurance service.

By constantly gathering data to hear their voices you will be better able to shape their product roadmap and decide which features to release at various stages in the product lifecycle. Or as a bank by performing a comprehensive analysis of customer feedback across your official channels and social media you would be well-placed to gather data from customers, using a hashtag-based campaign, regarding what they love and hate about the bank. Customer empathy develops from a willingness to listen and to act intuitively to their needs making life easier for them in their encounters with you. It is all about listening and learning.

A bank in Johannesburg bank decided to use VoC to perform a comprehensive analysis on customer feedback across all their official channels. The campaign was able to generate two Named Entity Recognition, or NER, which was then used to conduct sentiment analysis by allocating sentiment scores to the different comments. These scores allowed the bank to identify which areas and issues needed their attention most.  According to a report by CIPD, the professional body for Human Resources, Voice of the Employee is how people communicate their views to their employer and influence matters that affect them at work.

Using this approach helps to build open and trusting relationships between employers and their people which can lead to organizational success. The lesson here is that involving employees in customer decisions leads to a more proactive response to the Customer Experience agenda from employees. A Skills and Employment Survey conducted in the UK in 2017 found that formal ways of organizational participation (for example, consultative meetings held by management) declined between 2012 and 2017, but the proportion of employees reporting high influence over decisions that affect their work increased.

If front liners see their inputs in customer policies it would do a world of good to their morale. The Voice of the Process (VOP) highlights how the process communicates with the organization on performance against customer needs and expectations. This communication takes place through process measures which are descriptors of how the process is performing in its current state. According to health experts Moran and Duffy (2011), Organizations must develop a reliable process to collect regular and timely data for the performance of their most important processes.

These processes must be satisfying to both internal and external customer needs, to ensure the survival of the organization. A quote from Dr. W. Edwards Deming sums it all, “In God we trust, all others, bring data.” According to our esteemed CX experts, using data effectively will attract and retain customers, increase revenue, enhance the customer experience, streamline operations, and Improve communication. Need I say more?

The Writer is Head of Training Development & Research

Service Excellence Foundation, and Management Consultant (Change and Customer Experience). He can be reached on 059 175 7205,

[email protected],



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