Every company, when they start examining the customer journey, has opportunities for improvement. Some of those come from enhancing the existing journey and some of those come from fixing the current journey. If the issue you are tackling is a correction, it is critical to involve and engage your frontline employees in defining and fixing the problem. If managers helicopter in, assuming they know what to do, and fix the problem themselves, the frontline will have no buy-in to or engagement with delivery of the customer experience. And unless your executives are ready to fulfill orders in the warehouse, answer the customer service calls, and perform customer-facing jobs, you want to have your frontline employees devoted to the customer experience.
Here are five steps that you must follow when fixing a problem in your customer experience:
- Engage frontline employees in cross-functional teams. CX challenges rarely come from one functional area. Usually, it is weaknesses throughout the chain that create a CX problem. So don’t just tap employees in one area – bring in all of the possible functions that might be a part of the solution. And make sure that you have diversity on the team regarding experience and aptitude. This can be a learning and development opportunity as well as to improve CX.
- Focus on the customer. Don’t assume that frontline employees know everything about the customer because they work with them every day. They know their own experience, but that could be biased by their managers, their training, or other influences. There probably are other important data points they need to visualize and understand the big picture CX, including research insights, financial results, and performance metrics. When you present supplemental information, be sure always to bring the lens back to the customer.
- Solve the root cause, not the symptom. Often, the source of the problem appears obvious from the outside. From the inside, it can be very different. That’s why it is critical that you solve the root cause of the problem, and not just cover up the unpleasant symptoms of the problem. For example, if it takes too long to get a problem solved over the phone, just tell the customer service representatives to get off the phone faster. Simple, right? What if the root cause is an aging technology system that simply does not facilitate customer care? Right. Solve the root cause – and the people working in the functions are very familiar with what’s causing the problem.
- Let frontline employees design the solution. Great – now you know the root cause of the problem, it’s time for management to design the solution! Wrong. If you want your employees deeply engaged in and committed to the customer experience, you must let them design the solution. Management must guide and facilitate that design, of course, but it must come from and be acceptable to the frontline employees, or it simply will not work.
- Recognize and reward. When the solution has been implemented, and the metrics show improvement in the customer experience, it’s time to celebrate. Recognize each team member for their contribution to the solution and reward everyone for their participation. Show them the impact on customers, reinforce the importance of the customer experience, and let them know you welcome their future input and ideas.
When frontline employees come together in cross-functional teams to solve problems and serve the customer better, you’ve hit marketing gold. Their ownership in the solution and the result of improved customer experience virtually guarantee improved performance for your organization.