Whether you work with external customers or internal employees, now is the time to put your customers at the center of everything you do.
Customer experience management isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that gained increasing popularity during the Great Recession, when companies realized how much they needed loyal customers.
To keep existing customers and gain new ones, companies began analyzing their interactions with customers. What many organizations found was surprising.
“In the early days of customer experience as a field, we realized that many companies weren’t very intentional in how they approached customer experience,” recalls Tabitha Dunn, now vice president of customer experience at Concur, a business travel and expense management software company based in Bellevue. “The main focus was on creating products and services that customers would purchase and very little time was spent on the quality of those customer interactions.”
Since those early days, customer experience management has become an established profession with best practices for processes, tools and techniques to assess and optimize customer experiences across multiple channels such as websites, call centers, telesales centers, field sales organizations, brick-and-mortar stores and mobile commerce.
Those same techniques that companies use to optimize the customer experience can also be used by — you! That’s right. According to Dunn, “Anyone can use these techniques to improve their interactions and professional relationships with others.”
The key? Putting your customers at the center of your universe. Here’s how.
Determine your stakeholder groups. The first step is asking yourself, “Who are my customers?” For example, if you work in a sales role, your main stakeholder group is probably external customers, but you might also have internal stakeholder groups such as marketing, operations and finance teams.
Dunn suggests drawing a circle in the middle of a sheet of paper — that’s you. “Now, draw other circles around yours that represent all the different groups or departments with whom you interact,” she says. “These become your stakeholder groups.”
Get to know your stakeholders. The next step is getting to know each group and considering who is supportive and who isn’t. “I like to type the names of each person in the various stakeholder groups into a simple Excel document,” Dunn said. “Then, based on stakeholder interviews, I highlight each person as an advocate, neutral or negative/detractor based on their opinion of working with me. That way, I have a baseline of where I should start when it comes to improving their experiences and our working relationship.”
Obtain feedback. One of the best ways to move the needle on detractors or neutral stakeholder relationships is to ask them for their feedback. Examples of questions you could ask are:
- What would you like to see improved in how we work together?
- What do you feel works well in our working relationship and why?
- What would you like to change, if you could?
- What could I do more of (or less of) to help you be more successful in your job?
Build and implement a game plan for each stakeholder group. Once you’ve obtained feedback from your stakeholder groups, build a game plan by listing the actions you can take with each group (or individuals) to improve their interactions with you.
By applying the techniques of customer experience management to yourself and your stakeholder groups, you can improve the relationships you have with colleagues, decrease work stress and improve productivity (yours and theirs). And what’s not to like about that win-win situation?