Recruit staff who understand the customer is always right

Customer experience is the next competitive battleground and to be
successful employers need to hire staff who embrace company values

No personnel department would ever hire a new recruit without having a
defined job specification for a role. Without it, the wrong person for the job
would be chosen, and as a consequence, training budgets would be wasted and
churn rates rise.

Yet when organisations fail to define the customer experience they are
trying to deliver – and emotions they wish to evoke in customers – the wrong
type of person will almost certainly be hired.

Our research, conducted in association with the Marketing Forum, shows that
71 per cent of business leaders see customer experience as the next competitive
battleground to be fought in a commercial marketplace – yet few are doing
anything about it.

Seven out of 10 customers say that emotions count for more than half of
their customer experience. But most companies have not even thought through the
emotions they are trying to evoke and will, therefore, struggle to recruit
people who are able to evoke the positive emotions the company has identified.

The most emotionally-advanced organisation in the world is Disney. Having
identified that the emotion it needs to evoke in customers is happiness –
whether they are visiting a theme park in sunny Florida or a windy shopping
centre in the UK – the staff it recruits reflect the company’s cheery outlook
on life.

Companies such as Disney have realised that price and quality are no longer
adequate differentiators – but their people are.

Getting the recruitment process right and aligned to the customer experience
they wish to deliver will reduce the huge problem of emotional labour – which
creates problems of churn and stress at work.

Getting the process right and using a model based on emotional intelligence
is essential. How can even the kindest employer expect staff to thrive by
pretending to be something they are not for eight hours a day?

First Direct is another example of a company pursuing the right lines –
abolishing scripts and measures, and letting staff be themselves at their call
centres has seen the organisation improve productivity.

However, if bosses don’t have definitions in place of the customer
experience they are trying to deliver, staff at the grassroots of a company
haven’t got a hope of delivering consistency when they come into contact with
customers.

Our research shows that more than half of the customer service training
offered by standard UK businesses today is based on damage limitation and
placating difficult customers, while a mere 38 per cent of employees receive
training on stimulating positive emotions in their customers. Without this, a
culture of ‘us and them’ can be created within minutes.

TV advertising is driving mistrust and disappointment in 82 per cent of
customers, despite £4.2bn being spent on it each year. Research shows that the
experience shown on TV does not match up to the reality.

Surely some of this money should be channelled into effective training to
reduce that gap in expectation and create positive interaction between an
organisation’s frontline ambassadors and the customer. Spending cash on
briefing all employees on the experience the company wishes to project would
represent better value for money.

If you believe that customer experience is the next competitive
battleground, then you have to align the employee experience to the customer
experience.

This is not about instigating ‘Big Brother’ tactics to ensure all employees
are towing the line – it is about developing people who will deliver a clearly
defined customer experience that will gain market share for their company in
the future.

By Colin Shaw, founder of consultancy Beyond Philosophy

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