By Paul Whitelam, Group VP of Product Marketing, ClickSoftware
The service industry today has evolved beyond its historic, tactical business function of selling or fixing things. It offers companies a new opportunity to grow their bottom lines by creating added value, providing personalized recommendations based on customer information, or anticipating their needs for an upgrade or routine maintenance. Service today means becoming a source of support that customers can always count on.
To meet today’s standards, service companies can no longer afford to maintain yesterday's processes. Customer expectations are higher than ever, and today's on-demand economy makes it critical for every company to develop a strategic customer experience vision, ranging from technology adoption and training to customer engagement.
A customer experience vision provides a blueprint to align your employees’ and company’s goals with your larger customer experience strategy and to meet your customers’ needs for service. In field service especially, customers agree that long wait times between making a service appointment and the actual visit make for a bad customer service experience. It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for just one negative experience—and that’s only if the opportunity comes up. Service-centric companies can’t afford the risk..
Defining your customer experience vision
According to a recent Gartner report, a customer experience vision should employ an emotional connection for both customers and employees. This emotional connection is easier to achieve when the vision is simple to understand and communicates a compelling value proposition to the customer that demonstrates your brand’s commitment to them. For instance, Hilton Worldwide’s vision is “To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality—by delivering exceptional experiences—every hotel, every guest, every time.”
Ultimately your vision motivates employees to deliver a consistent experience to customers on behalf of the brand. This is especially important for a field service technician who is often the only chance a customer has to interact with the brand. The engagement has to be just right. Everything about how your field tech interacts with the customer will help build brand loyalty and engagement, so establishing a customer experience vision is key for retaining and attracting customers.
To create this emotional connection, the entire organization must work together to implement the vision across the company, and it starts at the top. Gartner found that IT leaders agree management is the key driver of creating the customer experience vision. Once defined, the next step is implementing a framework and educating and training employees, empowering them to be the face of the brand. Now you have created an environment where everyone is working with the same conviction toward a common service goal.
Seeing the value of a common vision
Creating a customer experience vision can require a fundamental shift in company culture, and change isn’t always easy. McKinsey found that 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals, which is often due to lack of management support or employee involvement. Fully implementing your vision can mean changing aspects of your employees’ day to day work, so it is critical for management to provide ample training and support to ensure a smooth transition. Educating them about the value and potential impact of the change will make the effort more meaningful, and the changes easier to accept.
Better customer service doesn’t just benefit customers though, it can also serve your employees. Employees who are emotionally connected to their work are more invested and engaged with the brand, leading to higher productivity. Gallup found that employees with higher engagement are more likely to improve their customer relationships, bringing us full circle to customer attraction and retention.
A vision for the future
The customer experience vision is not static. As technology continues to evolve, with everything from artificial intelligence to the internet of things, so do the needs of your customers and employees. It is therefore important to assess your vision and revise as necessary. A strong, well-defined customer experience vision can make or break your ability to deliver the service your customers expect.