Spend time with your own experts – on the front line
Of all the greatest myths in management, the idea that you can improve by going on an inspirational tour of great companies is one of the biggest. This is particularly true in the area of customer experience – why?
The answer is simple: you know what you need to do, and happy-clappy trips to the likes of Zappos or Amazon won’t alter that fact.
Is all study a waste of time?
I’m not saying that there’s no point in trying to understand what innovative practice looks like or that you’ll never pick up some insight from hearing about another company’s change programme. Indeed, The Next Ten Years was set up precisely with this in mind so it would be highly disingenuous of me to suggest otherwise. And it would have been a waste of my time judging at the Complaint Handling Awards last month (it wasn’t).
But study tours? Getting on an aeroplane and travelling half way around the world to find out how great Disney are at customer service? With some other executives? For a week? Do the math! This isn’t an effective way of using senior management time.
What’s interesting is that senior managers can, unconsciously, invest quite a lot of time and effort in not improving customer experience – and the study tour, CX safari or whatever is symptomatic of avoiding the issue. Big time.
The answers to your CX challenges are in front of your nose: in the feedback from your front-line staff and from your customers when they complain or praise you for a really good experience.
Put simply, instead of a study tour, why not invest the time and budget in:
- Analysing the heck out of the journey or process that attracts the most complaints.
- Finding out what the units/teams that attract the most praise do right and using them to train up the lower-performing ones.
- Spending time on the front line.
I used to work for a company that had a regular “back to the floor” days where senior managers would spend the day in a contact centres or on customer calls. These were great, but it baffled me that such a fuss was made about it, since I figured that it should be a part of any non-customer facing executive’s job to find out more about the people who dealt with the people who paid their salaries.
So, by all means read up on what role model companies do, but apply the lessons judiciously, and recognise what great work you’re already doing.
Just do more of it.