The Customer Loyalty Code – And How to Crack it - Leadership & Strategy vol2
Factor 1. Loyalty and Strategy
Below is the second half, all about 'Strategy' and itsplace in the Loyalty Code Formula.
For customer service to make a worthwhile difference to business performance and results it cannot be considered as something that is ‘nice to have’. It must become a core part of the strategy for success. Service Excellence is one of those topics, like Safety, Efficiency, Quality, etc., that few in any organisation will challenge as not being a good focus of everyone’s efforts. So if it becomes a part of core strategy, people throughout the organisation are likely to view it as sensible.
But how do you make it clear to everyone that it really matters, and then keep it at the forefront of their minds and a driver for their day to day decisions and behaviours? Here again there is more to this than there is space for in this paper, but the following are a few things I’ve seen work well in many organisations.
Theme and Logo– Almost all of the successful programmes I’ve worked on have had a theme or title, and a logo of some type, to give easy long term recognition. Example theme titles include Caring Counts, First Choice, Service Excellence and Becoming the Best. It obviously has to be something that is appropriate to your situation, the people you employ and the type of organisation you are, but I have found that choosing the right one will help execution.
Subject for Meetings– One way to make sure people know how important something is, and to keep it fresh, is to make it a topic of or a key part of regular business meetings. That’s easy to do if you have a good and trusted source of regular feedback from colleagues and customers. Meetings can then focus on what they are telling us, what we plan to do about it and what has resulted from what we have done in the past.
Trainingand Benchmarking– People can always improve their skills. So on-going training on the key elements of service excellence, customer experience management and customer loyalty building will keep it fresh in peoples’ minds and up to date with the latest trends and techniques.
It also helps to keep an eye on what others are doing. You obviously need to know what competitors are up to, but I don’t think there’s much point in copying them. That will not create differentiation. It’s better to look wider and see what the best organisations in different sectors are doing and consider how you might do the same.
Measurement and Feedback– It’s hard (some say impossible) to manage something that isn’t measured. It’s therefore important to have in place a variety of channels to measure the impact of what is being done. Most organisation have the occasional customer satisfaction survey. Maybe once or twice a year. That’s useful but its far from enough. What is needed is feedback that is event driven (meaning that critical customer or colleague events trigger the feedback) and real time (meaning that is is measured immediately after the event). There was time when this was difficult and expensive to do. But technology has changed that so it now easy and low cost.
But there no point in doing this if the information that is gathered isn’t made good, timely use of. Ideally it will be analysed as it is gathered and sent directly to the people that have the closest influence on what is being measured. They can then take any appropriate actions from what they learn. That then provides a continuous measure of what colleagues and customers think, it enables you to act on it immediately, and then to monitor the effect of what you have done.
Recognition and Rewards– People know that the things that matter most in any organisation are the ones that leaders spend most of their time on and give most of their attention to, and/or those that are linked to recognition and worthwhile rewards.
Recognition can range from a simple ‘thank you’ for individuals or teams that have made a positive difference for a colleague or customer, to formal internal awards schemes. The best organisations have a variety of systems in place to recognise the right behaviours. Keep in mind that its just as important to recognise the behaviours that will lead to good outcomes as it is to recognise the actual outcomes.
Rewards can also help, but they need not always be the usual financial ones. In fact, research has shown that excessive financial rewards are counter-productive and do not create the desired outcomes. So instead of financial rewards they could be opportunities for valued training, interesting project work, additional responsibility, promotion, etc.
But worthwhile financial rewards can of course, be much valued. It all depends on what your colleagues will value most. Here again, having a variety of reward options is important. Keep in mind that the more personal the rewards are to the recipient, the more impact they will have and the more they will be valued.
The overview of this is that for people to recognise that something is part of core strategy it’s not enough to write about it in the corporate strategy documents and mention it once in a while at company meetings. For sustainable success, it needs to become something which is a constant theme, pervading everything throughout the organisation.
I believe that leadership and strategy are the foundation on which a loyalty building customer experience programme is built. That’s why I made them the two elements of the first factor in The Customer Loyalty Code. I hope this short paper helps, and provides a few useful ideas to get this in place in any organisation.
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- 4/10/2016:The Customer Loyalty Account
- 28/2/2017:The Workings of a Customer Loyalty Account