Core competencies of customer experience: engaged employees make the list

The Four Competencies of Customer Experience: Build the Foundation of a Great Customer Experience by Connecting Purposeful Leadership and Engaged Employees

It’s easy to say that the focus of your service is your customer. Everyone wants happy customers. But, as your company grows and changes, customers can, unintentionally, get pushed to the back burner.  Priorities get shifted. Focus narrows in  on profit and marketing. And your mission and culture adapts as you scale up. It’s easy to get too introspective and your customer experience is the first place to suffer.

Back in 2013 Temkin Group was on a mission. They wanted to uncover the difference between the operations of Customer Experience and their peers with less success. They studied hundreds of companies and recognized that it takes a deep institutional change to re-orient a company towards the customer once the company focus shifts.

Delivering a good customer experience demands a holistic approach company-wide. Your customers’ interactions and perceptions of your business determine their overall experience. So, every step of the customer journey and every department of your company need to focus on the same goals and values. Every interaction a customer has with your brand has to be consistent and excellent. To sustain a positive customer experience, unify your entire organization.

According to Temkin, there are four core competencies that determine the success of your customer experience.

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Your leadership team aligns to a clear and consistent set of values.
  2. Compelling Brand Values: You set appropriate expectations with customers on how they’ll interact with you. (And you meet those expectations on the last interaction as much as you did on the first.)
  3. Customer Connectedness: Every department’s decision-making integrates customer insights and ideas.
  4. Employee Engagement: Your employees understand and align to your corporate goals (and how they impact them).

When you master these four areas, your company builds customer experience differentiation and customer loyalty.

These core areas create a healthier company environment and set you up for success on all fronts. But especially, when you have strong leaders and engaged employees, your company develops a foundation for a great customer experience.

Let’s take a deeper look at these four core competencies of customer experience.

Purposeful Leadership

Do your leaders operate with a clear, well-articulated set of values?

If you want to grow, define the values and goals for the rest of your company to align with. It is in the hands of leadership to create the momentum and purpose for your company. They have to be clear and intentional to create the bones for the rest of your company to stand on.

Strong leaders, according to Temkin, must be passionate, persuasive, positive, propelling, and persistent.

These skills contribute to engaging your employees, too. Your energy and vision for the future of your company sets the stage for your front line employees. Likewise, it helps them to feel impassioned and invested in the future of the company.

Make sure every employee understands why the company makes the decisions it makes. Employees in contact centers are often ignored when larger decisions are made or communicated. But, their effort will increase if you invite them into the company direction with intention.

Offer positive feedback to employees, so they can improve the company. Praising employees for their hard work shows them they are essential to the customer journey and your company’s success. Propel your employees and the whole company forward towards greater influence, and encourage hard work. You must be persistent and take action regardless of the circumstances. Since your contact center agents deal with the errors made by your product or company (and sometimes, frustrating user error of your customers), they may get cynical and discouraged. It’s up to you to be persistent and consistently positive.

Compelling Brand Values

How do you construct and carry out promises?

As a company, you’re not running a political campaign. You can’t make promises then not always deliver on them. If you don’t keep your promises, you lose reputability and customers. And to create a great customer experience, you have to explicitly make promises, embrace those promises, and then keep them.

Your entire workforce needs to understand what your brand promises and then recognize their own role in helping to fulfill them. Simply understanding a promise isn’t enough. You need to embody the promise. It’s your responsibility to hold your team accountable for living out those promises every day, with every customer interaction. This helps your employees understand why they play an important role in the company, but it also shows your customers that you’re honest and reliable.

Customer Connectedness

Is customer feedback and insight integrated throughout your organization?

It’s easy to take steps forward with your company and make decisions without insight into your customer base. Maybe you’re going off of a gut feeling about something or your boss is using antiquated methods of outreach and service.

With ever-changing customer expectations, you can’t rely on those gut feelings or outdated strategies. To make meaningful changes to your customer experience, use customer insights to inform each step of the customer journey.

Knowing your customers brings you closer to them and helps you preemptively understand what they want. Listen to your customers and act on their requests. It’s true – customers don’t always know what’s best for them. But, taking in their opinions and desires is vital for developing the experience that’s best for them.

Understand who your customers are and find product-market-fit with surveys. Measure your metrics well and you’ll learn a lot from your customers. Focus on the larger journey your customer takes with you and think deeply about each step along the way. And as you grow, design your processes and service for real people. Treat your customers as the unique individuals they are, and your service will be more authentic.

As your whole company delves into understanding who your customers are, every employee will find deeper empathy and familiarity with the customer.

Employee Engagement

Are employees fully committed to the goals of your organization?

Employee engagement is, unfortunately, often neglected when considering customer experience. The focus is put so directly on the audience you’re talking to that it can be easy to forget the people who are working tirelessly to deliver the service. ICMI mentioned in a blog, that the percentage of engaged employees worldwide is only 15 percent.

Employee engagement is as essential to successful customer experience as having purposeful leadership.

Engaged employees and strong leadership go hand in hand, as I mentioned previously. They are intertwined. When you have hardworking employees and management, the other two competencies will follow. Engaged employees work harder and see better results. They’re more likely to stick around. And, they go above and beyond to serve customers well. This is exactly what your customers expect – with every interaction.

Engaged employees fuel a virtuous cycle — they deliver a great experience, which builds loyal customers, which leads to higher revenue. And, in turn, this lowers employee turnover and allows your company to further invest in your workforce. This virtuous cycle is recognized by some of the best customer service professionals around. We even saw it pop up in a slide show just last week at the ICMI conference.

Engaged employees virtuous cycle

Engaged employees deliver higher performance. In fact, business teams that score well in employee engagement outperform teams that don’t focus on engagement. They have 10 percent more customer loyalty/engagement, 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales, and 21 percent higher profitability.

High employee engagement means your workforce is well-trained and well-informed. Also, they’re more inspired to work hard and commit to your values and plans. They deliver on brand promises, and they know customers deeply, delivering strong insights from the front lines. The more you engage your workers, the more involved they are in their day-to-day tasks, and also in the outcomes of your company.

Engaged employees will wow you. In fact, companies with an employee engagement program enjoy 233 percent greater customer loyalty and see a 26 percent annual increase in revenue. Check out some other benefits that come with engaged employees in this recent post.

Being a Purposeful Leader and Engaging your Employees

These two competencies are interdependent. It takes good management to recognize the need for engaged employees. It takes good management to cultivate a strong culture and retain your best employees. Similarly, it takes strong leaders and empowered employees to create the customer experience.

When leaders are deeply convicted, they motivate the rest of the company to work to their fullest ability. As a result, your customers notice. Your customers take note when your company makes intentional decisions. They see the deeply-rooted set of values behind every interaction. They notice when your agents are well-trained and aligned with the rest of your brand. And, they plainly see when your front-line employees understand and embody each decision.

It’s important to recognize how important these factors are. Between you, as a leader, and your employees — you lay the groundwork of your customer experience.

Check out our recent blog on the importance of valuing your front line contact center agents’ role in constructing your customer experience.