CSP Happenings





Tagged: managers

Transforming your business’s perception of customer experience

August 15, 2017

If you’re a business executive, director or manager, you know customer experience should belong at the center of your daily activities. However, many organizations focus more on their operations, products and internal work environment than on their customers. How can businesses improve? Creating lasting structural change within an organization isn’t easy. However, executives can encourage their companies to transition toward customer-centricity by focusing on customer experience. Here are four major transitions in mindset and attitude executives can encourage:

As highlighted in this Forbes article, many companies are structured around products instead of customers. This is a symptom of a company being too self-involved to take a step back and understand its customers. When a business focuses too much on itself, it looks at the products it provides, how they can be improved and what new products they can bring to the table. Conversely, a customer-centric business understands who it serves, what their needs are and how the business can delight these individuals. Businesses must switch to customer-centric thinking by letting customers define their business, constantly soliciting feedback and putting their experiences at the forefront of the business.

Business helper to business differentiator

In financial services, most providers think they are relationship-focused above all else. However, according to the Bank Administration Institute, consumers rarely think of financial service providers as being relationship-focused. The reality is that the various responsibilities business face (marketing, sales, project administration, IT, etc.), while important, have the capacity to distract from the central goal of a business to make its customers happy. Businesses must move from a model that likes strong relationships with customers to a model that prioritizes strong customer relationships above all else.

Nice-to-have to must-have

Many businesses fail to regularly solicit feedback from customers. More commonly, businesses solicit feedback, but fail to analyze or act appropriately on their customers’ requests. Businesses tend to prioritize daily operations and revenue goals above trainings and meetings regarding customer experience because the day-to-day items feel more urgent. However, this designation of what is important is based on the perspective of the business professional, rather than the customer. Back-of-the-house work helps the business itself function, but does little to contribute to customer satisfaction. If a company’s priorities stay out-of-whack for too long, hundreds or thousands of customers are left with an underwhelming or mediocre perception of the company due to faltering customer experience. This underwhelming experience risks losing customers, and makes the brand’s/company’s value rely solely on the products it offers, which is a hugely risky strategy, as products are constantly changing and innovating among competitors. Making customers excited about the brands they do business with is a must-have.

General effort to specific behaviors

Almost all business care about customer experience, but they don’t know how to improve. Here is a typical, and poor, format for acting on customer feedback: Negative customer feedback comes in through dissatisfied customers reaching out to management, management calls together a meeting to highlight the issue and demand improvement, and employees make efforts to improve, masking over the underlying causes of poor customer experience for long enough that the issue slips from everyone’s mind. Sound familiar? This failed effort happens due to lack of ongoing coaching and training. The reality is that customer experience relies on a practiced set of behaviors and actions. CSP strives to utilize Voice of the Customer research to guide ongoing coaching sessions and training sessions with management. Meaningful change only comes when it is practiced regularly and when positive customer experience behaviors become engrained through repetition and training.

Want better employee performance? Use benchmarks.

June 27, 2017

What should a manager do when an employee’s performance falls short? Consider the following scenario: An employee isn’t reaching his personal performance requirements. Maybe his sales are low, his ability to open new accounts is subpar or he receives weaker customer satisfaction scores than his colleagues. During a performance review, the employee is informed of his low performance, and feels pressure to improve. He worries about his job security and thinks if he simply tries harder, he’ll achieve better results. However, two weeks later, his willpower is drained and he resorts to the same ineffective behaviors.

In this scenario, the employee gets lost in a cloud of ambiguity and stress. Employees want to perform well, and when they don’t, managers need to treat the moment as an opportunity to teach, rather than to scold. Benchmarking makes this teaching moment possible.

Benchmarking is the process companies use to identify and establish key performance standards, or benchmarks, and measure their performance against those standards over time. These standards are usually achieved by quantifying performance based on customer feedback scores. Coaching employees to achieve benchmarks is highly effective for a few reasons:

Non-accusatory feedback

When a manager discusses poor performance with an employee, the conversation feels highly personal. However, the ability to look at a benchmarking score as an external performance metric helps things feel less personal, and shifts the conversation in a positive way. Rather than the manager telling the employee he’s underperforming, the manager speaks in terms of improving customer relationships through specific behaviors. The result of a non-personal conversation leaves the employee feeling supported, rather than attacked.

Clarity

Benchmarking helps managers give specific feedback and learn about their employee’s personality traits. Different personality types yield different performance strengths and weaknesses. For example, an extroverted, persuasive personality may do well to promote add-on purchases, but rub certain customers the wrong way by being too abrasive. Conversely, a perceptive and introverted personality may do well at highly analytical tasks for high-maintenance customers. Benchmarking illustrates performance strengths and weaknesses in clear terms the manager and employee can look at together. Additionally, this process gives an opportunity to talk about the employee’s highest scores. The manager learns about the behaviors which achieve stand-out scores, and the behaviors are taught across the company as a best practice.

Tangible goals

Benchmarking is done using scales, such as a numeric 1-10 scale. Seemingly small differences, like a customer giving a “7” versus an “8” in overall experience, have major implications in terms of the loyalty of the customer and the customer’s likelihood to recommend the brand to others. Therefore, employees should be encouraged with realistic and specific targets. When an employee is told he isn’t doing well enough, he might feel discouraged. A good manager offers specific strategies to employ, and encourages the individual to see if he can improve his score marginally over the next three months, maybe from a score of 7.5 to 7.8. Presented in this context, the goal feels realistic and achievable, easing the anxiety of the employee and inspiring hope that the strategies recommended by the manager will work.

Good managers should always consider the emotional impact of the feedback they give their employees, make sure their feedback is precise and give the employee a clearly defined path to success. CSP’s Manager Development and Training uses Voice of the Customer data to coach managers and employees on the specific behaviors that improve key drivers of both employees’ engagement and customers’ satisfaction.

How Manager Development & Training Benefits Your Business

May 4, 2016

Professional development is an ongoing responsibility shared by both employees and their employers. However, managers and human resources personnel are often tied up in handling the paperwork of employment – hiring, firing, benefits, and grievances – leaving little bandwidth to focus on developing employees’ resources, talents, and career journeys.

Most businesses conduct some kind of periodic employee performance review, but miss the opportunities and advantages of structured follow-up and support. “Crisis” cases may get the attention they need, but middling and high-achieving employees can be left without a clear path forward to continued improvement.

Here’s the truth: Continued employee development can’t fall off the priority list.

manager development trainingThis is true for employees at all levels of the company, and especially relevant for managers. Managers are the cornerstones of a company’s internal culture. Their behavior, attitude, and ability to lead and nurture their team are directly correlated with employee satisfaction and engagement, which in turn influences the customer experience.

Off-the-shelf training materials and one-time leadership seminars are appetizers at best. Unfortunately, they won’t fill you up, and the effects tend not to last once employees are immersed back in their day-to-day duties. There may be a temporary boost in morale, productivity, and performance, but without continued support and attention, it won’t be long before they slip back into their comfort zones until it’s time for their next review.

Manager development is manager empowerment.  

In order for managers to effectively lead, coach, and nurture their employees, they must be nurtured themselves. You wouldn’t expect someone who lives on fast food and soft drinks to suddenly get up and compete in the Tour de France. Likewise, without proper “nutrition,” managers lack the supportive structure to deliver their best performance.

manager development trainingCoaching and training are not just about learning and sharpening skills, they’re about empowering staff to excel in each and every position, to collaborate effectively as a team, and to effect positive change in the workplace.

Empowered managers and employees:

  • feel valued by their employers
  • enjoy coming to work each day
  • are genuinely invested in the success of the company
  • resist the distractions of workplace conflict and politicking
  • are unlikely to look for other jobs, and
  • regularly engage in proactive, positive behavior.

These attributes ripple out to all areas of job performance. Even customers will feel the effects: customer interactions tend to go more smoothly, and issues get resolved more easily, when employees feel empowered to take action.

Development starts with data.

Collecting and evaluating data is essential to measuring progress and determining the effectiveness of a development initiative. It’s the first step of CSP’s Manager Development Training solution, forming a baseline from which to move forward with a targeted coaching program.

manager development trainingData also allows CSP to customize each program to each business. Every customer service climate will differ, even between separate locations of the same business. Within those climates, customer expectations and needs will also vary, and thus the key drivers of satisfaction and success along with them. CSP uses each business’s data to illuminate what those key drivers are, and tailor the Manager Development Training program to empower managers and employees to have the optimal effect on those attributes.

Consistency creates accountability.

What these customized programs share in common is a consistent structure of ongoing support. Not only does CSP create a path forward toward organizational improvement, your team also benefits from our years of experience guiding companies through times of change. Obviously, we want the effects of this training to stick, so change management techniques are reinforced from the top down throughout the training process.

As the program takes shape, we supply materials, conduct workshops, and regularly check in to evaluate progress. This consistent, committed approach to development is critical. It’s unlikely that managers will slip back into their old ways when there are measures in place to hold them accountable. Without those measures, there’s always the risk that other priorities, responsibilities, deadlines and duties will wind up distracting their attention from their job performance. That’s why leadership books and seminars so often fade from memory before companies can see the benefits.

There’s also something to be said for third-party objectivity when it comes to in-house matters. Managers commonly fall victim to a type of tunnel vision when they can’t see beyond the walls of their own office. CSP has seen it all, and we capitalize on that 30,000-foot view of organizational management to help each business navigate its own journey forward.

To learn more about Manager Development & Training, contact CSP’s John Berigan by email or by calling 800.841.7954, ext. 101.

 

You may also want to read: