Are employees more important than customers?
The need to improve customer experience is now widely understood. Yet are service desks looking in the wrong direction in their attempts to influence positive change? Natalie Calvert explains.
If customers have a poor experience with a service provider, they will eventually find an alternative supplier. Service desks are not immune to this fact and unless they improve the customer experience, they will become marginalised and their value to the business diminished. It’s not fantastical to imagine a future where service desks are deemed surplus to requirements if this runs unchecked. Delivering a positive customer experience is non-negotiable for service desks.
Yet understanding the need to improve customer experience is just the first step. Making that a reality is very different. The next step is education – we must teach service desk staff why they need to improve customer experience. Sadly, this is where efforts to improve can quickly fall down. The education approach invariably leads to cliched platitudes about “making the customer feel valued” and “put yourselves in the customers’ shoes.”
If your end goal is to improve customer experience, then employees should be your first priority.
Not only does this approach fail, but it is also patronising and alienates employees. In my experiences working with customer teams, the individuals involved know that customer experience is important. Of course they do, it’s their job right?
Telling someone to do something is not enough. To improve the customer experience delivered by the service desk, we need to take a different approach. If your end goal is to improve customer experience, then employees should be your first priority.
Why are employees so important? After all, you may find that much of the support experience is now defined by systems – automated logging of tickets and natural language FAQs are very much a part of the customer support process. But when they fail, is this because the technology is flawed? We know that the technology can work – we experience it every day when we use tools such as online banking and e-commerce tools that have been refined. The experience when using automation doesn’t fail because of bad technology, it fails because the technology has not been adequately tested and optimised. And who is ultimately responsible for this? People.
Whether it’s automation or the peer-to-peer support they offer, your employees will define the customer experience.
This is why I’m now spending much of time helping businesses with Employee Engagement. When employees feel taken for granted and powerless to make a difference, they stop performing. When this happens, the customer experience suffers. On the flip side, employees who are empowered, knowledgeable and supported by their managers, will – WITHOUT FAIL – improve customer experience.
Of course, customers have to be the number one consideration. But employees will be the ones who decide whether the customers are given a positive experience and so they must be given more attention. Empowered, engaged employees deliver multiple benefits to your service desk – customer experience might just be the crown jewel.