4 Engagement Strategies to Diversify Your Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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Diversity can be a very tricky thing, especially when we think about how it impacts the customer experience. As soon as you make a declaration like “Our company is diverse!” you become guilty of looking at people the very way we don’t want to be perceived.

engagement strategies

 

We are not the blind guy or the black lady or the foreign person. We are simply just the persons who happen to be…blind, black or foreign. But that same person is the one who loves rugby but hates football, or washes windows when she’s nervous, or collects Star Wars memorabilia. The possibilities are endless. We are all very complex creatures.

So expecting organizations to be truly diverse goes hand-in-hand with another tricky part of engagement strategies.

More than 50% of experience is based on emotion.

So setting rules for emotional engagement is like saying the secret to writing a bestselling novel is by following a simple formula. Try as we may to make a science of it, it just does not work. Certain parts of it can’t be analyzed and measured, they just ARE. Emotions are predictable only in the ways human are – in other words, emotions are really not predictable.

However, certain companies are tackling this nuanced and important subject in very interesting ways.  It’s clear that if there are NO expectations on how a diverse range of people should be treated, then behaviors will emerge which will leave customers feeling they were not treated well.

Starbucks outlines it clearly on their web site, and I don’t think I’could have said it better myself.

At Starbucks we define Diversity in the form of an equation.
Diversity = Inclusion + Equity + Accessibility

This is a great way to sum up how they want people to be treated. They go on to define these factors in detail.

  • Inclusion: human connection & engagement
  • Equity: fairness & justice
  • Accessibility: ease of use & barrier free

They have taken this complex subject and boiled it down to a simple view of the world. Treat people with kindness and empathy. Respect them. Simple.

Dell is another great example. They have broken this subject down by categorizing their cusotmers. Some of this, I’m sure, is based on need. The products Dell sells might have to be adjusted to work differently for customers with disabilities, for example. Providing information for that segment might be extremely useful.

Interestingly, however, Dell’s Hispanic Americans page doesn’t include a convenient way to translate. And the stock photos on each page are actually kind of creepy, in a way. (I always think of the designer searching the stock photo site using phrases like “successful-looking Hispanic guy.”) And though most people won’t take conscious stock of these microinteractions, they do make a difference. Why do they not showcase people who are real Dell customers or employees?

engagement strategies

As we search for ourselves with our associated organizations, we are looking for truth. Our emotional reaction is based on how we feel when we read things like “We honor the unique combination of talents, experiences and perspectives of each partner, making Starbucks success possible.” We read that statement and think “This is true. Starbucks does treat all kinds of people well, and I can vouch for that!” We believe in it, and we feel good about it because we are INCLUDED.

In the examples from Dell, each page includes language similar to that found in the “Diversity” section. The first subhead after “Overview” is “An Important Market Segment.” That does not really make me feel included, that just tells me my demographic has been targeted. Huge difference.

Dell also includes a 5-star rating system as a feedback mechanism on the site. (Ratings tell us there is still quite a bit to be desired from this content.)

Diversity is an emotional part of your mission.

Diversity, like so many other aspects of experience, is intertwined with emotion. While you can never predict or orchestrate emotions of either employees or customers, you can certainly state the behavior you’d like your employees to exhibit. Starbucks achieves this by making simple, yet powerful, statements. Experience should (and usually does) back this up. Paying diversity lip service via cheesy stock photos and some buried verbiage on the site isn’t really living the customer experience mission.

engagement strategies

How do you set the rules for emotional engagement? It’s an interesting challenge.

Here are a few ways to enrich your customer experience with real diversity:

1. Hire diverse people.

Different backgrounds and perspectives will help you find gaps you would normally overlook due to your own background.

2. Make sure your mission statement includes customer experience.

If you don’t mention your customers, you are not serving them so much as you are selling to them. (We discussed this a while back regarding the airlines.)

3. Draft a diversity checklist.

We can’t help but see the world via our lens. WIt’s not your fault! But if you consider other people and how the world looks through their lenses, it helps. When designing a user experience, consult your checklist. The ADA has done a great job at creating one! Don’t forget to consider segments that may be unique to your organization, like certain neighborhoods or demographics.

4. Debrief employees on their behaviors.

If employees are behaving a certain way towards a certain group, debrief on the behavior. Don’t fall into the “but <Segment B> is always trying to do something wrong” conversations.  Ask, simply, if the brand is being represented in the best way by this behavior.

This has gotten me thinking on rules for my own organization as we grow. What do you think? Is this complicated or not?

Photo credits: Rayela ArtJared eberhardt via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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