This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Jeff Dahms, writes about the importance of using customer data properly and aligning it with the internal culture of an organization. Data is worthless unless you have the right data and then do something with it. – Shep Hyken
Data inspires confidence because it serves as a rational, objective bottom line that provides order and structure to the customer experience. It appeals to the logical, pattern-oriented left brain, involved in making decisions that shape the customer experience. But customer analytics have more to tell you than scores alone. By reading between the lines, the shape of your company’s internal culture can emerge.
WHY IS INTERNAL CULTURE RELEVANT?
Think of data as representing the ongoing feedback loop between a company’s internal culture and its customers. This loop runs smoothly when the culture is well aligned with the customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. A productive, motivated, well-informed staff produces satisfied customers, and vice versa.
If the culture is misaligned, though – if priorities are skewed, if there is distrust between leadership and employees, if there are significant obstacles to cooperation across departments, if employees don’t feel valued and morale is low – the impact on customer service is direct and immediate. Inefficient processes, gaps in information and communication, and employees who are just ‘going through the motions’ are all symptoms of an unhealthy internal culture that needs attention.
Customers tend not to tolerate these symptoms for long. Remember, a single negative interaction with your business can sour a customer’s opinion and undo a long history of positive interactions in a matter of minutes. Studies have shown that negative experiences have more staying power than positive ones; not only are people more likely to remember them, they are more likely to tell others about them, too. Social media has given customers a megaphone for complaints that they might otherwise just have grumbled about under their breath.
IF DATA REPRESENTS THE LEFT BRAIN, CULTURE REPRESENTS THE RIGHT BRAIN.
Together, these elements form the foundation of customer experience management.
Customer analytics, used appropriately, can be the healing salve for a broken internal culture. By examining the trends, gaps, and other insights captured within the data, all employees, from upper management down to the individual customer service representatives, get a clear sense of the goals they are working toward as a team and what they can do to affect positive change.
This requires a degree of transparency between those who have access to the data and who make decisions, and those who carry out those decisions in their daily interactions with customers. A stern top-down directive given without context or reason is easily ignored or deprioritized, while one that is presented as a productive initiative backed by solid information is more motivating and harder to argue with.
Of course, transparency must go both ways if the staff is to work as a team. Employees at all levels of the company should feel empowered to ask questions, make suggestions, or otherwise participate in the shaping of the culture, and not just be beholden to policies. By valuing the voice of your employees, especially those who are in the position to directly interact with customers, you create an internal culture that nourishes the customer experience – and the data is bound to reflect that.
As a right-brain, intuitive element of the customer experience, cultural alignment can be felt as much as observed. Take this opportunity to do a “gut check” about the culture in your office and within the enterprise as a whole. Do you notice any symptoms? Have they emerged recently, or have they persisted, unattended, for some time? If anything, no matter how small, feels off in some way, don’t ignore your gut.
Of course, gut feelings are subjective and not always the best source of insights for developing an action plan. Whether your internal culture is noticeably skewed or it’s simply time for a routine check-up, collecting employee engagement measurements starts you off on the path of improvements. Much like Voice of the Customer surveys, employee assessments help identify the key drivers that motivate employees to bring their best effort to work.
The culture is in the numbers: where the right and left brain connect.
Jeff Dahms is Vice President of Research & Development at Customer Service Profiles. Jeff has over 12 years of experience managing and consulting to data for both internal and external clients, and has extensive experience in helping Executives focus on key indicators in order to achieve maximum results. At CSP, Jeff is responsible for executing all phases of the customer service measurement process, including designing surveys, analyzing data, identifying trends, and helping clients implement changes.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: The State Of The Customer Experience 2016