Supercharging your Customer Experience…

Strong financial results, the ultimate goal in business, are strongly connected to the degree of loyalty among a company’s customer base. A large number of companies have therefore focussed strongly on their net promoter score (NPS) and as a result many of these companies have started various continuous improvement initiatives all with one common goal: increasing customer loyalty. One of the key success factors for driving customer loyalty in an increasingly challenging marketplace is delivering a world-class customer experience.

Customer experience is becoming an increasingly important differentiator in a progressively competitive marketplace. In a world where the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, companies have to put more emphasis on the experiences they deliver to their customers in order to create a competitive advantage. It is anticipated that historical differentiators like product and price will remain for the future, but their share will decrease over time. A recent Forrester report (http://bit.ly/YF4yyl) states that customer experience already matters more to loyalty than price.

While in an increasingly social-media-driven B2C market the experience is already dictated by the customer, a recent Walker study (http://bit.ly/194RWSm) indicates that in B2B the same can be expected by 2020. As such the importance of customer experience as part of a business strategy will continue to grow, making customer experience the key competitive differentiator.

The continuously growing impact of customer experience on the success of any business calls for companies to become customer-centric by reviewing and redefining their culture, strategies and competencies.

Temkin Group correlates customer experience with loyalty, stating that for companies to become customer experience leaders they need to master four core competencies (http://bit.ly/11Ohimf):

– Purposeful Leadership
– Compelling Brand Values
– Customer Connectedness
– Employee Engagement

While the first three of these competencies are widely adopted and understood, Employee Engagement is often neglected, resulting in global employee engagement levels below 40%, with a truly disengaged workforce population of 10% or more (http://bit.ly/11Sea5V)

Employee Engagement is all about aligning employees with the goals of the organisation. Kahn (http://bit.ly/15pwE3C) originally defined personal engagement in 1990 as, “the harnessing of organisation members’ selves to their work roles”. In other words if employees are engaged while at work, they may be more likely to identify with the roles they assume. Employee engagement impacts the individual’s contribution to the company’s success and the personal satisfaction in their role. As such employee engagement drives employee commitment to the goals of the organisation.
This employee commitment can be observed in various ways:

– Engaged employees are 2x more likely to go the extra mile, to do something good for the organisation that is not expected from them.
– Engaged employees are 3x more likely to to make improvement suggestions.
– Engaged employees are 6x more likely to help their organisation succeed.

Employee engagement has been linked to customer loyalty and strong financial results by Bain & Co in their Promoter Flywheel(TM) concept (http://bit.ly/o7xZhN) and by Temkin Group in what they call the Employee Engagement Virtuous Cycle (http://bit.ly/RkTG52).
The rationale being the fact that engaged employees are engaging customers by delivering a great customer experience, which drives loyalty and ultimately financial results.
In summary: through customer experience, engaged employees and loyal customers go hand in hand towards strong financial results.

As the impact of customer experience on business success continuous to increase, a customer-centric culture (an environment encouraging all employees to continuously learn about customers and improve their customer awareness) is a must have for any business wanting to be lucrative.
It is my firm belief that customer-centricity is impossible without engaged employees. As such I am convinced that employee engagement can be an extremely powerful success factor, which -in my opinion- cannot be neglected.

Current reality is that many companies have a long way to go before reaching world-class employee engagement levels. The good news is that this great power to be successful lives within the organisation itself; all it takes is the right focus on to unleash it:

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
– Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell’s Soup

So what about your organisation, do you have a focus on employee engagement and the impact it can have on your business results? If not, I would recommend you get to it right away. If you want your organisation to be successful in a highly competitive market where experiences are dictated by the customer, start building a highly engaged workforce. You will need it!

bdc_headshotBart de craene works for the European Headquarters of Waters Corporation (NYSE:WAT), a company creating business advantages for laboratory-dependent organizations to enable significant advancement in healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety and water quality. In his role as Waters Global Services Manager he is responsible for the Operational Service Strategy, Customer Experience Management and Operational Excellence within the EMEAI region. He has a strong interest in feedback-driven Continuous Improvement through Voice of Business, Process, Customer and Employee as key facilitators for transforming the Customer Service business. Please note that all views expressed in the above article are Bart’s own.

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