Can you really coach Customer Experience?

Because I’m totally sure you can.

A recent visit to Bluewater involved buying some new shoes for my wife. On inspecting two different colourways of the said shoes, we inadvertently swapped their designated positions on the wall display. Having worked as Floor Manager between College and University (a good few years ago) in the Nike store in Brighton, I understand that visual merchandising does have a purpose, but what happened next led me to ask the above question.

As we stepped back to review the range again, an employee of the shop then walked over (without asking us if we needed any help may I add) to stand in front of the shoes, and moved the two shoes back to their original positions, while being so far in to our personal space that we had to take a couple of steps back.

No big deal really, but I can think of at least six very simple things that were wrong from a CX perspective within this ten second (non) interaction.

How did it impact our behaviour? We went and got the shoes at a direct competitor.

The thing is though, if I had gone through this with the assistant, I really don’t think he would have for one second understood why any of those six points were a poor experience, and I think his response would have been something like ‘well the shoes have to be in that order…’.

Saving the conversation about customers’ having poor experiences because internal rules and processes for another time, can you really coach Customer Experience to someone this oblivious to what’s best for the customer at any given time?

Satisfied at having a new customer experience to talk about, I began to think back to my time in the Nike sto
re – did my customers have poor experiences under my watch when I was young and single-minded? Well, yes, they did.

I can remember two instances. Firstly, obsessed with my sales figures vs. the 1st floor of the shop, I would routinely send customers upstairs for refunds so my figures weren’t affected. Secondly, I remember closing the changing room to customers once, just so I could get in and out to access mannequins/shelves/fittings etc. to work on merchandising. The area Manager turned up that day, and at the time I scoffed at his disgust that I was making people go upstairs to try on their clothes – of course now practising customer experience I acknowledge how right he was!

So, here I am now able to recognise and improve poor customer journeys – what happened? Was I coached, or did I just learn through osmosis, working in organisations who care about the customer? A mixture, is the answer. Formal coaching has had a place, customer focussed programmes and developing a Customer Experience Centres of Excellence have too, as have particular managers, whom I had great respect for.

The true answer though, if there is one, lies for me in recruitment (and the resulting culture). While my conclusion means that I slipped through the net as someone who didn’t really understand the value of every interaction with the customer at the time.

If your recruitment programme has genuine focus on recruiting staff (consistently and at all levels) who understand that everything they do has a positive or negative emotional impact on the customer at each touchpoint, the organisation itself will begin to take the shape of one that customers want to join, stay with, and talk about positively.

If you run or are involved in a customer experience programme consider how central are Recruitment to that? do they look for people with suitable customer experience tags, or individuals who can talk about emotive and commercial impact in the same sentence? I’d argue the former gives you shoes laid out in the right order, the later a deep understanding of why customer experience matters.

With 89% of companies prioritising customer experience in 2017, attention to all impacting areas on CX success come in to play if you want to drive success. If you’d like to know how to recruit the right customer experience types, contact us and we will let you in on the secret.

Posted by James Edmonds, Senior Consultant, Lexden.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer Experience’ Update for monthly ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours.  

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