Your Team Leaders Are Crucial To Your Customer Experience
It’s your team leader who can make all the difference in turning a customer-centric strategy into a successful day-to-day reality. In my work with companies with large numbers of frontline employees, I see brilliant a CX strategy fall apart once it moves to the sales (or service) floor, in a manner of speaking. And, to be sure, no amount of technology investment will cure a broken process. At the least, such a process will severely limit your company’s ability to get the full value of that technology. This commentary urges you to pay attention to the knowledge, skills and management training of your frontline managers - and then explains how to do that.
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Seven years ago, a study by Walker Information offered a finding that many found difficult to fathom. It reported that by 2020 the key point of difference between brands, B2C or B2B, offline or online, would be the customer experience.
We’re very much into 2020, and that prediction was prescient. Customer experience, or CX, is a much-explored topic in virtually every business. Forrester Research suggests the customer experience officer, or CXO, is the hot new position in the C-suite. Denise Lee Yohn, a branding expert, asserts in the Harvard Business Review that every company needs one.
Interestingly, Ms. Yohn also notes that a fixation on CX alone is done at an organization’s risk. The employees — actually, their employee experience, or EX — is crucial to a positive CX, especially when they’re on the front line. Let me build on that by noting that Gartner advises that “organizations must recognize the influence service employees have on CX delivery.”
Those front-line employees are aptly named. They’re literally on the front line of your business, interacting with customers every moment of every day. And if they don’t provide a good experience, customers will take their business elsewhere 60% of the time, according to PwC.
To create a great EX, Gartner suggests applying traditional CX practices like working to understand employee wants and needs as well as the current state of the EX within your organization. In addition, involve your employees in improving EX and CX by learning what they are seeing, hearing and thinking. And, perhaps most importantly, make the EX measurable: Establish KPIs and processes to govern and improve performance.
It’s this team leader who can make all the difference in turning a customer-centric strategy into a successful day-to-day reality. In my work with companies with large numbers of front-line employees, I see brilliant CX strategy fall apart once it moves to the sales (or service) floor, in a manner of speaking. And, to be sure, no amount of technology investment will cure a broken process. At the least, such a process will severely limit your company’s ability to get the full value of that technology.
A quick look at the role of team leaders, and you realize they’re the ones who can most help or harm the crucial bidirectional information flow about CX and EX. This flow goes from them to employees to instill a CX culture and to management to enhance the EX.
But let’s look more closely at their roles. Accenture tells us most managers spend 54% of their day on administrative tasks. Little time is left to develop the members of their team, to infuse them with the right behaviors to provide an exceptional customer experience. More to the point, they have little time to learn how to be effective team leaders.
So, then, how to make the most of that time? I recommend employing microlearning in the flow of work to let your team leaders absorb bite-sized portions of learning. And you can use it, as well, to build comprehension and close performance or knowledge gaps through repetition of learning activities.
And do not overlook the utter necessity to identify and assign EX/CX-related goals and KPIs that team leaders need to shoot for. By extension, this form of learning and data-based performance management needs to include the team members themselves.
By doing this, you set the critically important team leaders up for success. And when you empower them, you enable them to empower your front-line employees, who then provide the sort of experience that has customers coming back for more time and time again.