Putting the customer second

Putting the customer second

By Lynsey McGregor, KPMG Nunwood.

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Premium customer experience management brands are characterized by their superior cultures. These companies recognize the importance of looking after the employee and the crucial impact this has on creating an outstanding customer experience; the resulting impact being employees who are evangelical about their company, proud of the job they do, and who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to their customers.

Upon initial consideration, it may seem counter-intuitive to put the employee first and the customer second, but as a growing number of organizations demonstrate, a satisfied employee is a more motivated employee when it comes to helping the customer, resulting in a commensurately improved customer experience. Indeed, many members in the top 10 of KPMG Nunwood’s UK Customer Experience Excellence study (Source: KPMG Nunwood 2014 UK Customer Experience Excellence Analysis) also feature highly in The Sunday Times' Best Places to Work survey.

Recognizing employee value

One such organization that recognizes the value created at the interface between employee and customer is First Direct.  First Direct is the number one brand in KPMG Nunwood’s study in 2014. The internet bank’s recruitment team focus on employing people who want to serve the customer and care about doing a good job, then they provide extensive training to ensure employees are qualified and empowered to resolve any customer issues –ultimately,  ‘recruiting for attitude, training the skill’. First Direct employees are not randomly selected; 44 per cent of new workers are referrals by existing staff. Other employees are sourced from caring professions and the hospitality industry, with a view to finding colleagues who genuinely care about people.

John Lewis’ renowned partnership ownership model is another example of the impact putting the employee first has on the customer experience. Ranked second in KPMG Nunwood’s UK Customer Experience Excellence study in 2014, John Lewis demonstrates that ownership of the customer experience is made more effective by shared ownership of the business. As Andy Street, John Lewis’ Managing Director, states “when you go into one of our shops you are being served by an owner and that is bound to see you getting better customer service at the front line”.

How other industries put the customer second

Cosmetics retailer Lush employs staff that are as evangelical and passionate about the products as the products’ fans – they are genuinely proud to be involved in selling them. Not only this, but Lush employees are wholly in-tune with the ethical standards the brand sets for its business, driven by the culture of the company, which plays a pivotal role in creating an outstanding customer experience. 

The one thing these leading CX brands have in common is an ability to recognize the commercial and reputational value that can be derived from the employee-customer interface. Putting the employee first and the customer second is the first step to channeling this. Many companies find value in ‘Voice of the Employee’ programs, which combine CRM and other data sources with customer and employee feedback to provide context, insight and ultimately drive change. These programs put the staff member at the center; regular employee engagement surveys allow workers to have their voices heard and enable brands to make customer experience improvements based on the knowledge they receive.

Whichever approach a brand takes, one thing is certain: when companies adequately invest in their employees, the resulting empowerment and new-found motivation will undoubtedly shine in their next customer interaction.

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