I am a podcast junky. I devour podcasts. Funny podcasts, serious podcasts, and, of course, podcasts centered on my passion for contact centers and improving customer experience. One of my favorite shows is Crack The Customer Code hosted by two CX rock stars: Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walters.
On episode 329 from July 17, 2018, “Be a Customer Experience Change Agent”, Jeannie spoke about how you can be a customer experience change agent in your company: Go big, find quick CX wins, and gather your champions.
The episode got me thinking about the early days of my career. How I longed to get promoted to a position where I could actually make a difference. And how I learned, thankfully early on, that I could make a difference no matter the position I held. I had a number of great supervisors and managers that encouraged me to be the best customer experience advocate I could be, regardless of my job title. Along the way, I learned a few ways to make that happen.
So, no matter the job title you currently have, here are three things you can do today to make a positive difference for your customers and stand out as a customer experience change agent.
Stop speaking negatively about your customers
I’m not sure which one came first, the upset customer or the service representative that bad mouthed the customer after the call. Either way, it is destructive behavior that only leads to even poorer customer experiences, and in my opinion, greater stress. As a representative on the phone, I my supervisor had a rule that team members were to only refer to customers by their name or by “my customer” when asking for help. With that simple practice, I learned that speaking positively about my customers helped me empathize with them and encouraged me to find resolutions in their favor. When speaking negatively about customers was commonplace, this definitely felt like a “go big” action! When I had to deliver bad news to a customer, it helped me do so in a sincerely professional manner. It also helped me identify company processes and procedures that irritated customers or caused unnecessary effort. But wait, there’s more! Speaking positively about my customers impacted my fellow team members as well. It didn’t take long before I noticed my peers weren’t trash talking about their callers and were asking how they could do more for their customers. As a leader, I learned to look for this trait when I’m gathering my fellow CX champions. And, if that wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile, a day spent speaking positively about, and to, my customers, left me feeling less stressed at the end of the work day.
Fight for the customer at every opportunity
No matter what role you are in, always advocate for the customer. When something doesn’t go right for your customer, tell someone. If your company doesn’t have a process for gathering feedback, create one. Work with your supervisor or manager to help identify who in your company would find value in getting suggestions. Same goes if you get a suggestion from your customer - share it! In the break room, at the coffee machine, in every interaction with coworkers, give your customers a voice. You might be amazed at how many quick wins you uncover! But beware. Don’t assume that fighting for your customers will automatically put you on the fast track to the C-suite. Be prepared to have your ideas shot down a lot. But stay the course. And balance your feedback. While there is a risk of making the wrong name for yourself if your approach is too aggressive, in my experience, most employees can go a lot further when fighting for a customer.
Talk to your customers, and to those of your competitors, in the wild, outside of your regular job
Since long before the days that customer satisfaction surveys were the norm, I have been fascinated with hearing feedback from customers. One thing I learned in my career was just how valuable it was to be open to get feedback out in the wild. While working for a bank, I would look to see what credit card people were paying with in front of me at stores. If it was from our bank I might ask them about it. I would also, occasionally ask people how they felt about our competitors. If friends or family members were our customers I would ask them what they thought. Of course, just as in my general rule of gathering feedback from customers, don’t ask for the feedback if you’re not willing to act on it, and respond to the customer later if needed. On a couple of occasions, my inquiry of a stranger revealed a service issue that I had to take back to the office to resolve. The number of these encounters don’t add up a statically valid sample size, but it kept me in the habit of listening to customers and often gave me another perspective outside of just the customers that were serviced in the contact center.
I believe that each employee can positively impact customer experience. Speaking positively about your customers sets a strong tone and can help build a culture of providing great customer experiences. Fighting for your customer takes guts but sometimes, just one voice speaking on behalf of one customer can lead to a company making a positive change. Getting in the habit of listening to customers, and potential customers, in the wild will help give you a different perspective of how people interact with your company and with your competitors. These are just three ways you can stand out as a customer experience change agent no matter what position you hold.