Category Archives: Customer Experience
The oft-quoted (and also mis-quoted) proverb “You can’t save your way to prosperity” has a much more pertinent meaning for business.
Many companies, small business as well as large corporations, have struggled when they focus so much on the bottom line that they forget how to move forward and drive top-line revenues.
A Forbes article last month detailed how an entrepreneur’s previous startup consumed him because of the fear of financial losses. Worried too much about pinching pennies consumed him even though the company had millions in revenue.
He discovered that focusing solely on the bottom line was no way to run a business, let alone give himself any peace or lasting satisfaction. Once he discovered what he was doing wrong, he stepped back and formulated his next start up with a focus on driving revenue and creating value.
I often say that the problem with most floundering businesses is that they changed their game plan and started playing defense penny-wise when they should be more on the offense in building value for their customers. Simply stated, by having a vision towards building loyal customers and a complete value in everything you do will help get a company moving forward and not restrained by decisions on what to spend or not spend.
Penny pinching and bottom line focus shortens an organization’s vision and take the eyes off of most everything else, particularly your company values and mission statement. Granted, profitability should be a goal; however, having the right internal systems should ensure profitability flows down through from the top line revenues.
And yet, sales is not the be-all-and-end-all. Many companies are great at getting the sale or driving revenue, but create little lasting value that builds trust or commitment form their customers.
Creating value comes not only between your customers and your organization, but also a holistic synergy within your company that transcends the inner workings and augments that trust and commitment from your customers.
When a customer sees that your company will follow through to make things right for them, or that your team works in alignment with your core values which in turn prove your organization is what it says it is, you create a value that enhances the transaction-based part of the relationship. This creates more intrinsic value beyond what you bring to your customers, a value that you can never build focusing on the bottom line and pinching pennies en route to success.
Running a business with the majority of your focus on the bottom line is “penny-wise and pound foolish”. The best success comes by creating not just sales, but value beyond the transaction. Spend your efforts on value.
The overwhelming majority of places I see – retail, banks, gas stations and so on – have left me noticing a trend that the customer is no longer the focus.
There is a big box retailer that I visited in 2 different locations that gave me the worst service ever – both times. One customer even pointed out that I was waiting on the other side of the counter and the employee said “Yeah, I’m not worried about him.” In both of these visits there was no acknowledgement of my presence.
I see this often when patrons are at counters waiting to pay for gas or ring up their selections. Employees – and managers!! – instead of acknowledging the customer will finish their conversation on policy, work issues, or personal discussions and the customer stands there waiting to be noticed and grows frustrated by the moment.
I have seen this so often that it makes me worried about the trend in business that customers are a nuisance rather than a purpose.
Yet I remain optimistic that the space to give just a little acknowledgement to a customer will so set that company up for repeat business that I know those companies who stay customer-centric will win in the end.
Are customer acknowledged in your company consistently and promptly? It makes all the difference in the world to them. Nothing else matters.
Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.
The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.
A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.
The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.
Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.
If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.
Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.
About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.
A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.
While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.
What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.
Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.
The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.
(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)