14. Making It Easier for Customers to Do Business With You – Lead With Your Customer, 2nd Edition:Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence

CHAPTER 14

Making It Easier for Customers to Do Business With You

Consider these situations, each in the realm of process, according to the context of the World Class Excellence Model:

• A chainsaw needs a replacement part. When you visit a local home improvement store, you find out that there are none in stock, and you can’t find the correct barcode for ordering the new part.

• At a banquet, there is one buffet line to serve more than 150 guests. With a little forethought, that same banquet table could be reorganized to accommodate two lines—and more guests at a time.

• In line at the movie theater, you are asked to present your child’s school ID, which he doesn’t have, to get a student discount. After buying the full-priced ticket, you step inside to learn from other customers that you can purchase discount tickets without proof of age at the automated ticket kiosk.

Each of these situations represents a process problem. The return example emphasizes the impact that processes can have on the customer experience. The store may be very trendy and its product line may be of high quality, and the store clerk may be friendly and the store may be well marketed—but all that is undermined by the hassle of simply returning an item purchased at the store.

How might a similar return situation be handled at a world-class retail organization like Nordstrom? Customers are advocates for the Nordstrom brand. Shoppers are loyal. The product line is upscale, and the facility is trendy. Despite all this, what is the best-known story told about this world-class retail chain? It isn’t about its products—it is about its service. Nordstrom may be best known for the story about how a customer once brought in a tire, and, without hesitation, the store clerk provided an immediate refund. Not only was there no manager approval required, but Nordstrom, a retail clothing and housewares store, has never sold tires. (The little-known “story behind the story” is that the customer was confused because the business previously at that location actually sold them the tire.) How many millions of dollars’ worth of word-of-mouth advertising has that single action provided for Nordstrom? And all because Nordstrom understands the importance of having streamlined processes that enhance its customers’ experiences.

Processes have an impact on the service experience perhaps more than the other six Ps of the World Class Excellence Model. Processes are the policies, procedures, initiatives, and guidelines for delivering excellence. Any time you hear a customer say the word “hassle” when doing business with you, you have a process problem. Though many processes can challenge any organization, these are some of the biggest opportunities in delivering the brand to the customer:

• requesting information once

• decreasing waiting time

• giving the gift of time

• providing customer choices

• offering one-stop solutions

• providing continuous improvement.

Requesting Information Once

Let’s consider two scenarios:

1. You’re in an emergency room. It’s not life threatening, but you’re very uncomfortable and you want service. While you’re waiting, you’re asked to complete some paperwork. The forms request personal information, such as name, address, phone numbers, and type of problem. You complete the paperwork. By the time you’re admitted, cared for, discharged, billed, and get follow-up care, you have repeatedly provided that same personal information half a dozen times. Why do you need to repeat that effort so many times? From your perspective as a patient, it appears that the different hospital departments don’t communicate with one another. Shouldn’t there be a better solution to this common situation?

2. You need to make changes to your airline reservation. You call and are asked to type in your frequent flyer number. You’re transferred to an operator, who then again asks for that same frequent flyer number. Why did you have to type it the first time?

Typically, the cause of this process error is that the organization views the situation from its corporate position, rather than from the perspective of the patient or customer. What would be a world-class solution? If you’re asking a customer to provide you with information, create the processes necessary to populate that information across the necessary IT or other data-gathering solutions so the customer isn’t troubled for that information again. With today’s technology options, it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify creative ways to “ask once and distribute.” You’ll see this kind of solution in such convenient online systems as Amazon or eBay, where once you’ve created an account, you don’t explain who you are or add information every time you log in.

Decreasing Waiting Time

Most people hate waiting in line. What can you do as a service provider to remove the hassle of queuing? Though you may not be able to remove the need for waiting in line completely (for example, at a Disney theme park), you can affect the perception of waiting time. Here are some factors and solutions.

Shorten or Eliminate the Wait

Every day, more technological solutions are developed that remove or reduce the need to wait in line. Florida’s Department of Transportation joined many highway systems across the country to provide SunPass, an electronic toll transmitter that allows motorists to bypass having to wait in line at toll booths.

For years, the managers at Walt Disney World focused on building rides and attractions that would maximize capacity and move park guests through more efficiently, thus reducing the wait in line. When they decided to create solutions from the guest’s perspective, they came up with a technical breakthrough called FastPass, which revolutionized the theme park queue process by allowing guests to wait in line virtually. Guests obtain a ticket to return to an attraction at a later time, when they are allowed to walk directly to the front of the line. In time they created FastPass+, which allows guests to make those FastPass reservations in advance of their visit online and through a mobile device app.

Retail chains like Walmart and Home Depot have introduced self-service cash registers at many of their locations. In addition to providing another option for customers, these registers provide benefits to the company as well, including reduced staff and increased store capacity.

Finally, there is the ubiquitous presence of mobile apps that have been a virtual (pardon the pun) boon for customers and service providers alike. Breakthrough customer efficiencies have been found in diverse industries. In banking, more than 86 million customers from a network of more than 30 major banks such as Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America have access to Zelle, for quickly sending and receiving money without an ATM, simply through your banking app. In food and beverage, dominant companies such as McDonalds and Domino’s Pizza lead the restaurant loyalty apps used by more than 50 percent of smartphone users (Citigroup 2017; Panko 2018).

Entertain While Educating Them

Years ago, Muzak filled silent elevator or office time with music; now digital displays inform and entertain people. Strategically occupying the customer’s time is now accomplished by these and many other ways.

For example, Phillips 66 has added an innovative low-technology—but very entertaining—distraction in the form of a children’s guide to splattered bugs. Using this poster, you can tell what the dead bug on your windshield is. Done in a humorous style, the guide has pictures of moths, ladybugs, and dragonflies that suggest what the bug would look like smashed on a windshield. Not only do these entertaining tactics effectively occupy your time, but they distract you from the cost of the gas going into your car. Optimizing the customer’s waiting time is a big opportunity to improve both the customer’s experience and your company’s business results.

Reduce the Anxiety of Waiting

No one likes waiting. As children, we ask these questions out loud: “How long before we get there?” and “Are we there yet?” As adults, we’re usually still thinking them.

Why not reduce the anxiety of staying as well as the anxiety of waiting? No one likes staying in a hospital, but before you check in to the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center you can watch a welcome video online. Here, relevant issues concerning security, visits, and dispensing medications are made clear to patients.

Provide Certainty or an Explanation if Possible

The principle of providing certainty or an explanation where possible works well when on hold waiting for “the next available call center attendant.”

Customers appreciate it when the system provides an estimate of waiting time so they can anticipate when their call will be answered. Minimally, the recorded outgoing message should explain the delay (high call volume and the like). Even websites are seeing the value in providing a visible scroll bar being filled in while waiting for the next webpage to appear, helping to provide some certainty that the system is working.

Make Waiting as Equitable as Possible

When customers perceive that their wait is longer than someone else’s, they become very impatient and irritable. That’s why “cutting” in line angers so many. Instead, create a process that doesn’t reward circumventing the established queue. Walt Disney Attractions addressed the issue of some park guests “borrowing” a wheelchair to move directly to the front of the line. To prevent this abuse of the system, Disney changed the process. Now the queuing aisle is wide enough to accommodate park guests with wheelchairs, so everyone in a wheelchair party can progress through the line together.

It is understandable why people get angry when circumstances don’t seem fair. Over the years, some businesses have created ways to make waiting as fair as possible. The system of taking a number to be served by the butcher or baker is a process that’s been around a very long time. Another is the all-too-common practice of being told while on hold that your call will be answered in the order it was received. Processes like these serve to help us feel that we’re being treated fairly.

Let Others Wait With Them

Interacting with another individual can be a good solution for occupying time. It is also a great way to share any anxiety as it occurs. Hospital waiting rooms are an obvious example of why it’s better to wait with someone you care for, rather than being by yourself. Remember when the dad-to-be used to wait it out while mom had the baby? Now sofa beds are often placed in the room with mom-to-be in case dad gets tired. Now, couples have a completely different, shared experience when their baby is born. The difference is the benefit of having access to loved ones during a time of uncertainty or anxiety—or long waiting times.

Make It Worth the Wait

Ultimately, whatever inconvenience is part of your customers’ experience must be made up by you in terms of the value of your product or service. There are millions of iPhone fans who are willing to camp out in front of an Apple store to buy one, as if they were getting tickets to see their favorite rock band. The reason for this is simple: The more valuable the product or service, the more worthwhile the wait, from the customer’s perspective. The trick is that this is a constantly moving target. Your customers’ expectation of your experience will continue to go up, so your efforts to improve must never stop.

Consider the occasions when your customers have to wait. Reduce the pain of waiting in as many ways possible to ensure that the customer’s waiting investment is worth it.

Giving the Gift of Time

We live in an era when time is a premium resource. People today are willing to pay for goods and services they wouldn’t have even considered paying for two decades ago because they think it will provide them with more time to participate in other (more valued) experiences. Here are some examples:

• People will pay others (particularly in large metropolitan areas) to walk their dog because they don’t have the time to do it themselves.

• Increasing numbers of people report not cooking at home anymore. Companies like Stouffers are popular largely because many people want a hot meal without cooking it themselves. Those who do still cook place convenience at a premium. In many urban areas, you can actually order groceries online from companies such as Whole Foods and Publix Supermarkets and have them delivered to your home—all to reduce the hassle of having to go out and shop. Additionally, there are popular meal-delivery services such as Hello Fresh that send ready-to-cook ingredients to your door. They’re popular for their variety of food options, customizable meal plans, and creative packaging (Rawes 2018).

• People use valet services to park their cars. They simply don’t want to waste time trying to find a parking space and walk to and from their car.

Providing Customers With Choices

One of the best things you can do for customers is provide them with viable options. Empowering customers with informed choices gives them the power to influence their situation. For instance, consider the following:

• Identify a variety of ways to receive communication or information.

• Provide a range of payment options.

• Identify primary, secondary, and tertiary points of contact for resolving concerns or questions.

• Create options for fulfilling compliance requirements.

• Provide options in lieu of waiting on the receipt of products and services.

• Provide more convenient options for a higher fee.

You have an opportunity to help your customers participate in the process by informing them about the available options. Open and honest information is a benefit for everyone involved. It enhances the customer experience, usually costs the business very little, and serves to emphasize all the potential value the situation has to offer.

In the past, when you entered the Disney parks, you came to something called a “tip board.” It provided current wait times to the attractions, so you didn’t have to walk from one end of the park to another to learn how long the line was. That way, you could decide immediately if you wanted to walk in the direction of Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, or toward Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Now mobile apps provide that same information so you can decide where to go as you move throughout the park and even plan ahead on your way to the park.

Another example of providing options is payment services such as Apple Pay. Customers can make secure purchases in stores, in apps, and on the web. You can even send and receive money from your approved friends and family.

Next, let’s look at some of the many ways you can empower your customers and add value to the entire experience.

Offering One-Stop Solutions

Years ago, Lee Cockerell, then the executive vice president of Walt Disney World, received a phone call routed through his office assistant. The caller had apparently been transferred numerous times to many people at Disney to attend to his request, but to that point, the situation was not resolved.

Cockerell quickly understood why the caller was confused. The accent on the other end of the phone was that of a German man who was trying to get help “fixing the monorail.” The man was trying to get the right part; he had contacted more than 20 people around the property but had been unable to get it.

The situation was initially perplexing. Why was a monorail broken, and why were they calling Cockerell’s office and everyone else for a part he needed? After listening for some time, it became apparent what the problem was: This man had purchased a toy monorail for his grandson at a Disney park, and had returned to Germany to give it to him, only to discover that the monorail wasn’t working. The man had made almost 20 calls and still couldn’t get the part he needed to fix it. Cockerell immediately sent a replacement toy monorail to resolve that particular problem, but another problem remained: Why had this individual’s call been passed on to so many others without being resolved? This created an opportunity to dramatically improve the nature of internal communication at Walt Disney World.

A key process is providing one-stop solutions. How many times have you experienced the following?

• Waiting for different people to get back to you with the information you needed.

• Having to dial through an “endless” phone tree searching for answers, perhaps only to end up leaving a message with no certainty of a reply.

• Being shuffled from one department to another, having to repeat the same information over and over.

• Being told “We don’t handle that” or “That’s not my job.”

One way to provide customers with the gift of time is by providing one-stop solutions. This requires looking at processes in place to identify how they may be streamlined or improved.

The Buck Stops Here

Make it your company’s mantra that employees take ownership of whatever problems they encounter. Unless the situation requires specific expertise that the employee doesn’t have, they should feel empowered to settle the issue to the customer’s satisfaction without hesitation.

For example, returning a shirt can become a huge hassle if the process isn’t considered from the customer’s point of view. Imagine you return to a store to exchange a shirt you purchased earlier. The sales associate informs you that he can’t help you; you’ll need to go to customer service to process the exchange. Once you get to customer service, the associate informs you that she can’t help you, and that you need to see the supervisor. After waiting for the supervisor to arrive, the supervisor tells you that before he can process the exchange, you’ll need to fill out a form. By the time you go through all that extra effort, you might be justifiably upset.

If the employee is empowered to handle the situation immediately and satisfy the original reason you came to the store, the process allows for an opportunity to prevent further “cost” on behalf of the customer—hopefully, even adding value in some way. Even in cases where multiple functions need to be involved, you can establish processes that allow frontline employees to work together to make the experience easier for the customer. Accountability can still be part of the process; it simply can be handled among the team or behind the scenes, away from the customer experience.

Bottom line: Identify processes that keep employees accountable, enable them to work together effectively, and optimize the customer experience.

Walk in Their Shoes

Again, walking in the shoes of your customers is critical (see chapter 3). Get on the phone and experience being placed on hold. Go online and find out how long it takes for your request to be returned. This is a good opportunity to see where streamlining some of your services may be of most value to your customer—and in your best interest. One of our city-manager clients calls departments after hours to learn, firsthand, how efficient the process is.

Communicate Guidance

One of the outcomes of the previously mentioned Disney monorail toy story is that future toy monorail packages were clearly relabeled with where to call in the event of a problem. You can see this on packages for many “ready-to-assemble” products. It’s better for customers to make a call when they are confused than return the product to the store for a refund.

Provide an Employee Concierge

We typically think of a concierge as a person to whom customers can go when they need a one-stop solution. Not all employees can retain all the answers, so provide employees with access to a concierge type of resource when they need answers for the customers they are serving. Let the subject matter experts be accessible to all employees, rather than just a select few.

One example is Adventist Health Celebration Hospital, in Florida. It has a concierge department that helps visitors navigate through its expansive facility and answers their questions, but also serves as an immediate internal support for any employee who needs help clearing up corporate complications.

Internet colossus Tencent, which runs various entertainment, artificial intelligence, and technology products and services, is an extremely valuable social media company. Because of the company’s multidimensional operations, its receives a constant flow of questions from customers and employees alike. To facilitate the variety of those experiences, Tencent has provided multiple sources of answers to help best resolve customer questions in real time—ranging from a bank of live operators with online access, to a company-wide information system, to apps that maintain up-to-date information about everything from real-time ride sharing and video gaming to medical devices and courier services.

Provide Tools for Employees and Customers Alike

Give employees resources that help them quickly access the solutions they need. This is where recent technology advancements pay off to connect to already existing IT networks. The same IT solutions that provide employees answers can often be routed directly to the customers themselves. Numerous companies with a virtual presence have identified the most-popular problems or most-asked questions and then, while working to solve those concerns, provide easy access to interim solutions. One example of this is Disney, which has a Twitter account (@WDWToday) that serves as a platform for guests to ask questions and get real-time responses from cast members. One key to ensuring a seamless customer experience is to notice trends of most-asked questions and either weave the answers within the experience or create an easy “one-stop” way to respond quickly and accurately, allowing the customer to make the best choice for them. Disney even keeps track of trends to identify which issues should be prioritized for proactive solutions. Getting your customers involved not only helps them to save time but also saves you labor and other resources.

Technology: Process and the Experience

Technology is constantly evolving, and the options for using high-tech as part of the high-touch customer experience continue to grow. It is vital, however, to keep in mind that the purpose of the technology is, ultimately, to enhance the overall customer experience. One recent example is the use of drones in innovative ways to better serve customers.

A restaurant chain in Singapore named Timbre is poised to use a fleet of flying drones as waitstaff at their live-music venues. Partnering with the robotics company Infinium Robotics, Timbre’s Substation venue is in the final testing phases of using commercial drones to deliver plates of food and drinks to patrons across a large, crowded restaurant. The drones will help to relieve the servers from having to weave through the busy dining area, instead flying the food from the kitchen over the heads of hungry customers. The waiters can then spend more time interacting with diners and taking orders—and transferring the orders from the drones when they arrive. Not only will this process help create efficiencies, but it will add value as an interesting “show” to the patrons, who might enjoy this novel experience.

Here’s another example in using technology in place of human interaction. While speaking to a live person will always be widely considered the gold standard for customer service, utilizing tech when necessary to enhance the customer experience can add significant value if it is done correctly. Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a linchpin in high-volume service interactions, showcasing how machines are developing the ability to mimic human interaction. More and more often, that “conversation” we have with a company’s customer support center may not be with a live person, but a computer. One example of this evolving technology is with chat bots.

Chat bots are computerized programs that imitate human conversation, both in text and voice formats. The most effective chat bots are able to not only respond to requests and questions, but also recognize when the customer is confused and seamlessly hand off the conversation to a live customer support agent. Leading organizations such as Amazon, Google, and Samsung are investing significant resources in developing this next-generation tool with products and services ranging from contact centers to smart home devices.

One of the most advanced text chat bots is Xiaolce, developed by Microsoft Asia Research Lab. This type-based AI program is so realistic it has become the most popular (and active) contributing member of the ever-growing Weibo microblog, with millions of personalized interactions per month.

Voice format includes simple task bots such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which have tens of millions of users combined (Perez 2017; Kinsella 2017). American Express has recently entered the world of AI with its AmEx Advance Personalization Services, employing an AI-run interface that not only asks questions, but actually provides sound effects of typing on a keyboard while the system searches for appropriate responses, giving (virtually) every indication that you are talking to an actual person who needed to type commands into their computer—a small detail that creates an “almost real-world” experience!

Computers are still years away from passing the famed Turing Test, developed to detect whether an entity is human or machine, but AI technology is quickly becoming more involved in serving people in all industries. World-class organizations maintain the most effective approach: leveraging technology as a valuable tool while keeping the primary emphasis on the customer experience as the determining factor of sustainable organizational success. The technology may be the how, but the customer will always be the why.

Providing Continuous Improvement

In the pursuit of highly satisfied customers, you need to identify a system for tracking and monitoring progress in providing high-quality service to customers on an ongoing basis. Because the frontline employees are closest to the customer, involving them in creating solutions that are the right fit is profoundly valuable. Though higher-level formal systems like Six Sigma, kaizan, or Agile (explored more fully in chapter 15) may be valuable for specific types of organizations that require meticulous measurement processes, all organizations can generate significant results from involving employees in a less technical effort to make continuous improvements, as in this next example.

Case Study: National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

The expectation when working in a top-secret intelligence agency is that everything is going to be, well, top secret. But that isn’t always the case. Much of what military and intelligence organizations do is to provide support in times of crisis to countries in need. For instance, in one situation, President Obama wanted to focus the world’s attention on the Arctic’s melting glaciers. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), with its advanced mapping capability, was called upon to partner with other agencies. NGA rose to the challenge by doing a quick turnaround in developing maps and an online website to share with the entire world.

Another proud moment of delivering to a customer’s needs occurred following an earthquake in Nepal. NGA’s job was to quickly map out roads and runways for rescue crews moving emergency supplies into place. The director, who was pleased with the effort, requested that a video be made to showcase the organization’s success. Upon viewing the video, one NGA team, which had been at the center of the map’s creation, was particularly happy. They noted that the lessons learned the previous year during the Ebola crisis in West Africa had contributed to their success in Nepal. During the Ebola incident, NGA’s response was neither timely, nor as contributive as it could have been. As a result, NGA leadership committed to thoroughly addressing these shortcomings, and was able to apply those improvements to the Nepal crisis.

As NGA continued working to improve, it found new windows of opportunity in the unclassified environment—something it hadn’t focused on previously. For instance, it realized that it couldn’t support a United Nations peacekeeping mission because its maps were arriving with labels stating they were the property of a U.S. intelligence agency. Such a designation would put the peacekeeping mission into question as to their motives. To that end, NGA had to re-think how it provided open source content to its customers and partners. This is all part of that continual effort to improve processes.

Continuous improvement means simply learning from what works well and what doesn’t, and then applying it forward. Since those earlier lessons, NGA leadership has been studying the organization, its intelligence mission, and, most of all, its customer’s needs. They have been looking with fresh eyes at the tools they use, and the manner in which they work. This continuous improvement effort is revealing additional opportunities to support NGA’s priorities in supporting not only its traditional customer base, but also customer opportunities in the emerging non-classified arena.

There are many customized continuous improvement processes, but they essentially consist of these steps:

1. Measure.

2. Act.

3. Remeasure.

4. Evaluate.

These first four steps are more common. The fifth step is the most missed, and critical to maintaining the momentum of continuous improvement, so many world-class organizations have added it:

5. Celebrate and share.

Here are the steps in more detail.

Measure

To track and measure customer comments, employees must be attentive. In essence, everyone can be a “listening post” or source of information. There are numerous ways to listen to customers. Information may include formal research that was previously documented, letters and emails, and financial records. All these vehicles are measurement efforts.

Here’s one example of how to use opportunities available to you to respond to what customers want. While conducting your daily business, you may occasionally hear people ask about an item you don’t currently carry. You’ve heard it mentioned once or twice, so you think to inquire in your weekly meeting if others have been asked for that particular product. Others have as well, so the team decides to keep track of the number of times customers request it. Keeping track may be as simple as keeping a sheet of paper behind the counter with tick marks on it. You may even ask (without leading the customers) at the point of purchase if there is anything else they wanted but couldn’t find. The end result is that within a reasonable timeframe, you can discover whether this is indeed a product worth pursuing for the benefit of your customer—and your revenues. So this is step one—measuring customer interests, requests, complaints, and ideas.

Suppose that, after analyzing your situation over time, you determine that there was indeed genuine interest in the new idea. What’s next?

Act

Joseph Gardner, vice president of team member success at Loews Hotels, captures the mission of a leader during a change initiative well. He states that the leader’s role is threefold:

1. About 5 percent of the leader’s job is to build relationships and alliances.

2. About 5 percent of the leader’s job is to build awareness about operational challenges and gather knowledge.

3. Ninety percent of the leader’s job is to develop action. A great leader, anywhere in the organization, is known for a bias for action.

For many, this third step is the most difficult. Resistance to committed action takes many forms, but its most common is simply continuing to analyze (and overanalyze), embracing the excuse to avoid risking failure. This has been referred to as “analysis paralysis.” Unfortunately, in the business world, taking no action can be the riskiest thing a person can do.

To push past any resistance to initiating possible solutions to the situation, it is best to adopt a bias for responsible action. Some call this “Ready! Fire! Aim!”—indicating a willingness to experiment with new possibilities and learn during the process. Disney had another way of saying it: “80 and Go!” This refers to the strategy that in most cases (other than safety or ethical issues), better results came from getting about 80 percent confident that you were on the right solution and then taking action. When intense focus and effort were invested into this process, the solutions came faster, more cheaply, and more effectively. So, to develop this kind of a bias for action:

Keep it small. Test the idea at a smaller scale. If the idea works, then move to a larger scale, but don’t invest too many resources until you’ve tested it.

Act quickly. Don’t wait until you’ve generated dozens of additional reports and collected endless data. Get out of the gate and just do it! Then readjust as you get further insight (which is covered in the evaluate step).

The key thing is to do something as soon as you see a trend or pattern that looks promising. Remember, the point to this process is to learn and grow. Unless you try new approaches, you will never get better solutions. The way you know whether your new idea is better is to measure again and compare with the initial measurement.

Remeasure

Once you have acted on something, it’s time to remeasure to see if the solution that was put in place fulfilled the opportunity in question. Remember to use a similar process of measurement so you can be confident your results show a legitimate result—one way or another.

Evaluate

To evaluate, you simply compare the intended learning outcome with the results achieved by the experiment. The important thing here is to approach the information in an unbiased way. The goal of participating in this improvement process is to learn something that can add value to your customers or your team. If the new idea worked on a small scale, then move on to implementing it on a larger scale, as necessary. If it didn’t work, then learn from this and identify another solution to best use the opportunity.

Remember that this is a cyclical process. You measure, take action, remeasure, evaluate, and repeat as necessary.

Celebrate and Share

After going through the four-step cycle described, it’s important to recognize everyone’s efforts in conducting the process; even if the desired results were not achieved, everyone should have learned something of value. The important thing is that you actively focused on improving the customer experience.

Your way of celebrating can vary. It doesn’t have to be big, but it should be appropriate to the effort made, and it should be personalized. Ask the team how they want to celebrate, and make the experience fun. Doing so creates an environment where others are more willing to learn from their experience in improving what they do and how they do it next time.

It’s equally important that you share your results with others. This breaks down silos and helps others. Sharing allows other colleagues to benchmark and learn from you. Moreover, sharing keeps others from making the mistakes you’ve already made.

You can share your lessons in a number of ways—from submissions to the company newsletter to hosting an annual best practices symposium, where people involved with every function come together to share what they have learned. This creates internal opportunities for the organization, and it invites teams to present to others what they’ve learned in a creative way.

Summing Up

When you truly lead with your customer, you gain a partner in making everything you do better. Processes are what connects all aspects of the customer experience. When done well, not only will you improve every step of your Six Ps Customer Formula, but you’ll also strengthen your relationship with your customer—creating better sales, advocacy, and results.

Next Steps for Building the Brand Through Process:

How can you make waiting more valuable for customers?

How can you deliver service more consistently?

How can you give the gift of time to customers?

How can you use technology to improve your customers’ experience?

What options might you give customers to optimize their service experience?

How can you streamline solutions so customers get the answers and help they want the first time?

Have you challenged your team to own the customer problems they encounter?

How can you continually measure and improve upon the service you provide?