Staying Customer Focused From the Inside Out

by Jeannie Walters

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We can hopefully all agree on how important it is to understand the customer’s perspective and the many rewards organizations gain from this outside-in understanding. Recently, the Harvard Business Review published an article stating the many rewards of the process of truly understanding the customer journey.

In our research and consulting on customer journeys, we’ve found that organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.

But it’s what was said next that is often overlooked.

They also discover more-effective ways to collaborate across functions and levels, a process that delivers gains throughout the company.

The customer focused inside-out perspective, when reviewed in conjunction with the outside-in customer journey, is just as critical to improving the overall customer experience, leading to more loyalty from both customers and employees.

Without exception, I have witnessed amazing insights into how companies can do business better through the exercise of customer journey mapping. Get the right people in the room and inevitably processes are uncovered for the inefficient beasts they can be. People volunteer suggestions on how to improve age-old aggravations, things that have long been considered “just the way things are done around here.”

Here are some of the most common ways examining the customer experience leads to improvement within the organization.

customer focused

1. Reduce duplications.

People want to do the right thing. So sometimes they just do, without necessarily having the access to information about what others are doing to try to stay customer focused. In one workshop, I heard about how marketing and operations were both sending welcome letters with various bits of sometimes contradicting information to each new customer. In another, I heard how both marketing and the president’s office were sending a “letter from the President” to long-time customers. While the intention is wonderful, the execution was sorely lacking, creating confusion and sometimes outright frustration for the customers.

2. Share information willingly.

Feudalism might be over, but there are still lords in the corporate villages. Information is sometimes hoarded and this means people are doing their jobs in the dark. As customers, this is a totally losing proposition. When I call and give my customer service rep my story, I expect that story to continue to whoever needs to hear it until my problem is resolved. If information is dammed up, the customer focused process is broken and the customers lose. When examining the customer experience in the painful reality of truth, these moments become obvious and those responsible for keeping information are found out.

customer focused

3. Fix the no brainers.

There are things in every business that shouldn’t happen. They are the moments when executives sign off on processes they know are bad for customers or when mid-level managers roll their eyes because it’s so obvious a customer process is broken. But when it falls into the “not my department” category, a broken moment can remain unfixed for years or even decades. It’s all because nobody quite knows who should fix it. Or who to ask. Or who to point it out to without offending. The no brainers are the things that can be fixed quickly and have a big impact. Being on the lookout for these means they get fixed often. Otherwise, they can live for eternity in the land of “not my job,” from which we all suffer.

Better communication among colleagues, improved customer processes and reduced expenses are just some of the internal customer experience issues that are addressed from looking at both the inside and outside perspectives. But the real magic occurs when the people involved on both sides of that coin are truly invested in making it work for everyone. It’s when employees care about what happens to customers – regardless of role or department. And in turn, the customers care about the company. I can’t think of anything that’s more win/win than that.

Image credits: avrenegregor_y via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, 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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