Customer Experience Is Not Our Responsibility

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Recently a client asked me how to engage Human Resources, Legal/Risk and Finance in their customer experience journey.

When my client had approached these groups about their contributions to the customer experience, the response was essentially: “We are very in favor of focusing on the customer experience and are glad that our sales and customer service departments are doing so much in this area. However, this is not something we have any control over, so it is not on our priority list.”

This response is very common in organizations that are in the early stages of true customer experience transformation. Ironically, these departments may have more to contribute to the customer experience journey than most others.

Here are some ways these departments can put the customer at the center of everything they do, to build a more customer-centric organization.

Human Resources rewards the right people

By hiring, rewarding and setting clear expectations, Human Resources can engage people who contribute through their attitudes, strategies and day-to-day actions.

This goes beyond the “employee of the month” awards. This is about national awards on center stage that recognizes individuals from every department who have made a true difference to the customer experience.

What’s more, it means ensuring that every individual clearly understands their contribution to the customer experience and setting customer experience goals to achieve each year

Human Resources can

  • hire people who will make customer needs a priority
  • set personal goals and assess employees on their ability to develop and execute customer-focused business strategies
  • recognize and reward employees for succeeding in these objectives, through bonuses, high-profile awards and promotions (and make the difficult decisions with employees who do not perform well in this area)
  • add a customer experience element to your employee surveys

Legal/Risk balances customer ease

Legal and Risk departments have a long-lasting effect on how customer-centric an organization will be. As the watchdogs of an organization, they ensure that the company is not exposed to lawsuits and financial risk in the course of doing business. To achieve this, they create policies that sales, customer service and operations groups must adhere to when bringing on new customers and managing existing customer relationships.

Sometimes these policies unintentionally create problems and unnecessary effort for customers when doing business with your organization, as I stated in a previous blog. For example, policies such as requiring a receipt, original packaging and returns in 30 days may prevent a few from taking advantage, but also make it more difficult for many customers to do business with you.

Legal/Risk can

  • create policies for bringing on new customers and managing existing customer relationships that don’t create problems or require unnecessary effort by customers
  • shadow front- line sales, customer service and operations stakeholders to understand how these policies affect their workflow and the customer experience
  • enhance the customer experience by investigating the effect of their policies on the customer experience journey
  • incorporate feedback from sales and customer service in their review of policies
  • regularly update policies to make them more customer-centric

Finance empowers relationship owners

Because they tend to own the purse strings across all lines of business, the Finance team has a great deal of influence over the customer experience in every organization.

However, they need to balance the critical requirements for cash flow and cost control with the need to deliver a great customer experience. For example, the need to ensure reliable payments must be balanced against particularly arduous onboarding requirements for new customers.

They also need to provide flexibility with customer relationship owners to “make things right” when problems arise, as I wrote in a recent blog on how this can reduce churn and build long-term loyalty.

In addition, the Finance team must also work with HR to recognize and reward those in the organization that make an impact on the customer experience.

In short, they should

  • work closely with sales and customer service teams, to ensure policies don’t have negative effects, for example arduous onboarding requirements for new customers
  • financially empower customer relationship owners to effectively solve customer problems
  • work with HR to recognize and financially reward those in the organization who make an impact to the customer experience.

While almost every department plays a role in the customer experience, Human Resources, Legal/Risk and Finance have more influence over the customer experience than they might think.

One department, one improvement

If each of these departments made one significant improvement to the customer experience each quarter, there would be measurable improvements in customer loyalty, employee engagement and shareholder value.

What’s more, by communicating their progress to the entire organization, they can inspire others to focus on what they can do to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

Click to learn more about Graham Kingma 

The 2015 Customer Experience Risk Study is now available!

The Verde Group, together with LoyaltyOne, partnered with Dr. Deborah Small from the Wharton School of Business to conduct a retail consumer study to assess the financial impact associated with poor customer experiences in the U.S. across key retail formats: Grocery Store, Mass Merchandise, Pharmacy, Department Store, and Specialty Apparel.

The study finds that retailers, in various industries, stand to lose significant revenue by not maximizing their customer interactions. Key insights for retailers are as follows:

  1. At-risk customers often account for over 10% of potential revenue. This figure is usually higher – the average mass merchant sees 25% of potential revenue at risk. Not addressing these critical experiences jeopardizes current and future spend.
  2. Retailers miss over 80% of problem occurrences. Even with staff or customer incentives to boost visibility, retailers must delve deeper to discover more than the negative CX that shoppers voluntarily share. For example, “Waiting too long in the check-out line” was cited as a problem impacting loyalty and a “most important problem” for customers of Mass Merchandise, Department Store, and Specialty Apparel retailers. However, it was the Sales Associates’ attitude or behavior (e.g. not being helpful) that was most impactful on loyalty for these particular retailer types.
  3. Take a customer-value lens to understand problematic experiences. Without customer insights, problems can appear to be equally detrimental even if high-value shoppers are disproportionally experiencing the effects of one issue over another.
  4. Measure on impact, as the frequency of issues can be deceiving. Some commonly reported problems aren’t as impactful as they appear, while other issues that retailers seldom hear about can be silently eroding valuable customer relationships.

Please click here to download the whitepaper and learn more about the study findings.

Paula Courtney

Chief Executive Officer, The Verde Group

Learn more about Paula Courtney

Verde Update: New Product Partnership Launched with LoyaltyOne Consulting

Verde Group and LoyaltyOne Consulting partner to deliver innovative Customer Experience solution

I am pleased to share exciting news. Verde Group has partnered with LoyaltyOne Consulting, a global customer loyalty consultancy specializing in the design and development of customer engagement strategies for Fortune 1000 brands, to develop an innovative new customer experience (CX) offering to add to Verde Group’s suite of services. The new offering will link the specific customer experiences most damaging to a company’s financial performance to specific shopping behaviors to gain maximum return on revenue and market share.

We recognize that in today’s hyper-competitive retail environment customer experience excellence is critical to market leadership. The offering will integrate LoyaltyOne’s behavioral analytics expertise and strategy consulting practice along with Verde Group’s 20 years of customer experience measurement and our Revenue@Risk™ methodology. The output will be a highly actionable segment-specific roadmap to create authentic customer loyalty, based on the CX improvements statistically linked to customer spend and brand equity. The data insights will have enterprise wide applicability, from corporate CX strategy development to location-specific implementation of CX delivery tactics.

We have partnered with LoyaltyOne because they are well aligned with Verde Group’s goal to provide you with experiential insights, strategies and treatments to take your business to the next level of customer engagement. Our partnership will deliver a unique blend of experiential and behavioral data insights to allow you to make business decisions differently and more powerfully than you do today.

Thank you for your interest in Verde’s work. As our offering with LoyaltyOne develops, I look forward to sharing more details on how it may be of value to you and how we can work together to achieve and sustain authentic customer loyalty.

Sincerely,

Paula Courtney, President & CEO
Verde Group
71 Ontario Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2V1

www.verdegroup.com

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About LoyaltyOne

LoyaltyOne is a global leader in the design and implementation of coalition loyalty programs, customer analytics and loyalty services for Fortune 1000 clients around the world. LoyaltyOne’s unparalleled track record of delivering sustained business performance improvement for clients stems from its unique combination of hands-on practitioner experience and continuous thought leadership. LoyaltyOne has over 20 years history leveraging data-driven insights to develop and operate some of the world’s most effective loyalty programs and customer-centric solutions.

www.loyalty.com