Happy Customer Experience Requires a Strong Culture and Commitment

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A T.S. Eliot quote in a business story will usually capture my attention. Thus, an article titled 7 Keys to Customer Experience Happiness by Simon Fraser—senior director of customer success, EMEA—caught my eye. "T.S. Eliot wrote 'the journey not the arrival matters,' and this is as true in [the customer experience] as it is often in life," he wrote. "Think about the thrill of anticipation in planning a holiday, for example."

On Feb. 23, in Washington, D.C., SIPA will focus on the customer experience and much, much more in an exciting day of training. Customer Onboarding and Retention: Increasing Loyalty, Lifetime Value and Profits is the latest entry in a very well-received Best Practices Series. Heather Farley, COO of Access Intelligence, will lead off with a session titled Customer Service Is Everybody's Job: How a Culture of Customer Love Leads to a Greater Profit.

Here are a few tips from Fraser's article, with some SIPA-fication:

  • Celebrate great service examples and coach those that do not match your ambitions. "We do a lot of employee recognition programs," Farley has said. "...We have 250 people in four different offices. So [programs like that] create a sense of a community. 'Success brings success' is our philosophy." 
  • Creating a promised land for all levels within your business is key in creating the right environment for a customer experience focus toflourish. In June, Wayne Cooper, managing director of Greenhaven Partners, spoke of a past direct mail initiative that failed. "That was a signal to the team that it's okay to fail. It was truly transformative for us." The culture had been put in place to try new ideas, get customer reactions and act on those. Success came from it.
    Cooper will speak Feb. 23 on Automating Customer Relationship Management: How Technology Can Make Your Customers Feel Warm, Fuzzy and Friends Forever with Brian Cuthbert, executive director, IOFM, Diversified Communications.
  • Customer experience should never just be an initiative or a fad to introduce as a short-term fix. "When was the last time you sat opposite a prospect and listened to their objections?" asked Robin Crumby, founder of Melcrum and now Novatum Group. "When you come to make recommendations about changes, it's so powerful to be able to quote customers. If it originates with the customer, it has so much more power."
  • Communicate internally and externally your progress on a regular basis, and make sure the continued focus is recognized. Crumby, an expert on internal communications, advised to "create a shared, overarching purpose that unites the teams together. Bring sales and marketing leaders together to agree what this shared purpose is and what success looks like." 
  • Be authentic to your vision, and build your products and processes around achieving your customer-orientated goals. Bill Haight, president of Magna Publications, once spoke about a simple decision they made in response to customer behavior. "We're finding that people don't have a lot of time. That's the biggest trend we see. Make decisions, get approval, have things signed. If we include everything in one package, then that's just one decision they have to make."
    Haight will speak Feb. 23 with Aaron Steinberg, publisher of insideArm, on Best Practices in Customer Onboarding: Let Them Know You Really Care from Day One.
  • For businesses, knowing what you stand for, understanding the impact of different experiences on your customers, and knowing what great looks like are just as fundamental for your [customer] journey. "...really understand the problem you are solving for your audience, then determine how the consumer wants you to deliver that solution so it fits seamlessly into their everyday," said Rob Ristagno, CEO of The Sterling Woods Group.
    Ristagno will speak Feb. 23 on How to Leverage Your Customer Relationships to the Max: Best Techniques for Upselling and Cross-selling with Regina Hodel, major account manager, BVR.
  • Communicate the lessons learned, but keep replenishing the stock of stories to avoid them becoming stale—and to allow others to take advantage of their wisdom through action libraries accessible to all. I like the phrase action libraries.
Fraser's article appears on the site  RetailCustomerExperience.com .

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…