The need for Unified Customer Experience
Five minutes with Craig Steele, CX Manager at VCG.
Digital acceleration and change in customer behaviour have shown us all that customer needs and expectations are evolving faster than at any other time in history, and businesses must strive to deliver on every front, always. We asked our Customer Experience Manager, Craig Steele, to share his views on the topic and how businesses should invest in their customer experience strategy.
What is your role at VCG?
I am the Customer Experience Manager at VCG. I collaborate with all the business departments, from Sales to Service, to ensure the customer experience is the forefront of what we do and that we offer a positive and consistent experience across our products and services.
Why is Customer Experience important to any organisation?
In today’s climate, more than ever, customers come to expect a high level of convenience and a service that is personalised to the need of their business. VCG are experts in providing bespoke services to meet the needs of our customers and in my short time here, I have been extremely impressed with the level of product knowledge and expertise we have within the business but also the appetite to ensure our customers have the best experience when engaging with us.
It has always been a challenge for businesses to differentiate themselves from other brands or companies and in most cases, providing exceptional customer support can be that difference.
How many times have we continued to purchase from the same store or visit the same restaurant purely because of how we are treated? Whilst ultimately, a business must have a product that people need or want, the small details such as the way you are greeted, or a sense that your custom is important to them are the reasons for us coming back, staying loyal and being ‘Fans’ of that business.
Providing a positive, consistent and personable customer experience increases the likelihood of achieving customer loyalty and sales through the service you provide.
What are the top questions you would advise businesses to ask when considering investing in their Customer Experience?
I would always start by taking the time to find out what your customers’ perception of your business is. Customer feedback is vital to any organisation. It allows clear prioritization, the ‘must have’s’ against the ‘nice to have’s’. Taking the time to understand why a customer did not purchase again, why did they decide to go somewhere else or why they felt they needed to raise concerns, will give businesses much needed insight into what areas of your customer experience needs to be prioritised and improved.
Regular listening sessions is a great way to gather feedback not only on what your customers need but also the needs of your own colleagues or employees. Some of the best process changes I have implemented have come directly from taking the time to involve those that would be responsible for carrying it out and give them a sense of responsibility and ownership for the changes.
Are your staff trained and engaged? Could this be the reason you are seeing a negative customer perception of your business or a decrease in customer loyalty. Disengaged employees are less likely to provide high quality customer service, leading to repeat calls, poor reviews and even complaints. In the same breath, employees who are not trained could lead to similar negative actions. Disengaged staff are more likely to leave, driving your costs of recruitment and training and diluting the level of knowledge in your workforce.
Would investing in your people by developing and ensuring regular engagement time provide them with the ‘Will and Skill’ needed to provide the service you expect your customers to receive?
As a CX specialist what challenges have you seen organisations come across the most in organisations?
Budget and cost implications is always the biggest challenge for any business. I have no doubt that if all business had an infinite amount of budget to invest in their customer experience, then Increasing resource, offering customer support through multiple channels, installing a training and development teams would be the ‘go to’ areas to improve the service you provide. Whilst improving these areas would have obvious benefits, these investments are extremely costly and in today’s climate out of reach for a lot of businesses.
Some of the challenges can be internal and the challenge between quality over quantity can lead to inconsistency in the service we provide. ‘How many queries have we respond to?’ and ‘How quickly do we manage a call?’ are common barometers for success…..but should it be?
We’ve all been there, and I must admit I have been guilty of this myself, strutting into meetings like a peacock to advise I knocked a whopping 7 seconds off my teams average handling time! And whilst we appear to be efficient, are we impacting the quality of what we are doing? Maybe these 7 seconds could have been better used to ask the customer how their day is going or take the time to ask about their business and therefore making sure that quality of the interactions takes priority of the speed of the call
How many times have we cancelled a training session, team briefing or 1-2-1 because we have calls queuing or seen an increase in customer queries sitting in our inbox.
Whilst I am not advocating neglecting customers who need support, are we missing out on opportunities to engage, empower and develop our people so that when the next deluge of customer calls coming our way, we can handle them faster, more efficiently and with knowledge, but executed in a way that doesn’t diminish the service our customer is receiving and prioritise the prevention rather than the cure.
What’s the most impactful advice you’ve ever given?
I have been lucky enough to work with some exceptional leaders and so you take a little bit from everyone you work with, but I recently listened to a podcast from Rugby League player Sam Tomkins that really resonated with me.
In the podcast, he spoke about the ‘1% efforts’. These small details being seen as just as important as an amazing try or a big tackle. Lots of little details that don’t always get noticed but lead to the result and then ensure we do them better than anyone else.
When listening to it, I thought about how that can be taken into a customer service environment. Are we doing the 1% effort’s the best? And do we see and acknowledge the hundreds of little 1% efforts just as importantly as the result of those actions?
In business, we understandably judge a successful business on the number of sales or a customer wishing to stay with us but what leads to them making that decision? The little, unseen actions carried by all our teams have led to the customer wishing to continue with VCG.
Ultimately providing great customer experience is making sure we don’t neglect the 1% efforts and when we do them, make sure we do them better than anyone else.
Craig Steele, Customer Experience Manager at VCG.