Exceptional customer experience begins from the inside out

If you want your business to be successful, focus on building relationships with both customers and employees

If someone were to pose the question, “what comes first in a business, customers or employees?” – what would you say? In a world where ‘the customer is always right,’ is a common business refrain, it might seem obvious, but it isn’t.

As businesses look to compete in our digital world, no topic has received as much attention as customer experience. But what do customers actually want in an experience? A recent Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) report found that, while customer experience comprises the things we expect when we hear the phrase (speed, convenience and consistency) there is another crucial ingredient that doesn’t get nearly as much attention: human connection.

Making technology feel more human and giving employees the freedom they need to go the extra mile are the things that really matter. In fact, the report found that despite technology becoming more intuitive, 81%of Australians still want to interact with a real person. It means that our focus should be on the people who make this possible every day; our employees.

So how can you ensure your employee experience is creating the right customer experience?

Step into their shoes

Having the right culture means understanding the experience of the employees and the points of friction they grapple with every day. There are a range of HR tools that can help with this but the best advice is free, speak to them.

This also means incentivising employees in the right way to provide a good experience and boosting the training available to help them improve their services. Investing in your people is not only good for your company culture, but it’s good for business too.

Freeing staff from the messaging book

If an employer wants employees to go the extra mile you have to enable them to do so. Instead of tying them to your messaging book or script, empowering staff to use their expertise to engage with your customers is critical.

A great example is US retailer Nordstrom which has a single line as a piece of corporate guidance in its employee handbook: Use best judgment in all situations. Staff are given the freedom to make the decisions they need to serve their customers best. American Express are another great example, their Relationship Care model is used to empower employees to resolve problems on the first point of contact, rather than needing to escalate to higher levels of management.

Innovate with purpose

More now than ever, businesses are seeing innovation as a way to beat out their competition. But innovation for its own sake won’t push any company forward, it needs to have the customer at the centre to really move the needle.

This is where your culture comes in. If a business has a culture that places the customer at the centre, the employees will innovate with purpose, whether it’s building new products, making customers’ lives easier or creating novel experiences. This isn’t just something that applies to frontline workers, it’s all staff from back office to the CEO who need to have a clear idea of the company’s values and an understanding of how to apply that to what they do every day.

To revisit the question of who should come first in your business, clearly your employee and your customers are as important as each other. If you want your business to be a success, it’s critical that you focus on building reciprocal relationships with both of them.

Naysla is the Vice President Brand, Charge Cards and Experiences at American Express Australia. For more information, please visit www.americanexpress.com/au




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