The headline article in this week’s Marketing Week celebrates the top rated companies for customer experience. Those that made it to the top spots include Lush, First Direct, John Lewis and Richer Sounds.
Interestingly all have similar approaches and attitudes when it comes to what makes a great customer experience. And it’s not the product or the environment, it’s the people. All invest in and empower their employees to deliver that experience, whether through product knowledge, training, or by simply trusting them to interact with customers in their own way. First Direct call centre staff for example, do not work from set scripts. Instead the company works to recruit the right staff and then gives them the freedom to simply be themselves. The customer therefore gets a more genuine experience of the brand. The top companies also engage their employees in two way communication, allowing them to make suggestions and shape the future of the brand, based on their front line experience. This increases the likelihood of employees becoming real brand ambassadors and in turn makes the brand’s marketing and communications more powerful. Recent statistics show that brand messages from employees are eight times more powerful than those from the company itself.
The challenge for Marketing therefore is how to influence employee engagement and harness this goodwill in their activities. Our What Works Where research this year demonstrated that not only are the internal facing departments communicating with customers more, but Marketing and Sales are also having more of an influence over employee communication. And the increase in the use of digital tools and channels has simply made it quicker and easier for people to communicate.
So how can we all ensure both internal and external communications are consistent. Clearly they are inextricably linked, but are they joined up?
The opportunity in this new digital era is there to be taken. Marketing are uniquely placed to drive forward both the digital agenda and the customer experience. Our three strategies for how they can do this are:
They must be the digital experts, educating others on how to use digital to build relationships and leverage the value that employees bring to the customer experience at ground level.
They should make those internal connections, ensuring not only a consistent customer experience for the brand, but a consistent employee experience too.
Finally Marketing can draw the map. Use their skills and experience to map the linkages within their organisations, connect departments together to build brand preference and an improved customer experience.
If you’ve not had a chance to read it yet, download a copy of our 2015 report here.