The service industry today has evolved from a traditional, tactical business function of installation, maintenance and repair into a strategic revenue generator.
Provide personalised recommendations based on customer information or anticipate customer needs for an upgrade or routine maintenance. This gives your service team the opportunity to create additional value over the lifetime of a customer.
All of this contributes to an increase in the service providers’ bottom line and, importantly, delivers increased return on investment for their customers. Service means becoming a source of support that customers can count on into the long term.
To meet today’s customer expectations, service companies can no longer afford to maintain yesterday’s processes.
“It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for just one negative experience”
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. This not only provides a blueprint to align your employees’ and company’s goals with your larger customer experience strategy, it also enables your business to meet your customers’ service requirements.
In field service, for example, customers who have had to wait a long time between making a service appointment and the actual visit are far more likely to be unhappy than those who only had a short period of time. However, only three per cent of suppliers measure failure related to response times.
It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for just one negative experience — and that’s only if the opportunity comes up. As a result, service-centric companies simply can’t afford to fall short of expectations.
Defining your customer experience vision
According to a Gartner report, a customer experience vision should incorporate 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 face from your company the customer will see. The engagement has to be just right. Everything about how your field tech interacts with the customer will help represent the brand, so establishing a customer experience vision is key for retaining and attracting customers.
To create this emotional connection, the entire organisation 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 for 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 per cent of change programmes 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.
“Implementing your vision can mean changing aspects of your employees’ day-to-day work”
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 well. 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
A 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.
Paul Whitelam is senior vice president in global marketing at ClickSoftware.