needs of another person." Does that mean it's time to throw out Net Promoter Score and customer satisfaction scores? No. But it does mean looking beyond those scores for insights that might be hiding behind those numbers, and recognizing their ability to give companies false positives about the nature of their customer interactions.
Temkin calls out Safelite Auto Glass for nurturing an environment of respect. "They have shown that you can build responsible engagement, even with a blue-collar interaction like auto glass repair, if you treat the customer with a great deal of respect. They have a huge investment in their people and processes." One way Safelite distinguishes itself is by giving its employees a mission to follow, not a script. Temkin gives the example of an employee who knew he had an appointment on his route with a deaf customer. The employee went to a deaf friend's house and videoed the friend translating the warranty information and installation process into sign language, and then showed that to the deaf customer the next day.
The best interactions occur when customers are surprised when people go above and beyond standard service. That's something that can't happen if employees are chained to a script. "If you're a large organization, you have to have processes at scale. Rather than rigid scripting...it's about spending time training employees about brand and purpose, and giving them the tools to understand the situation and deal with it as effectively as possible," Temkin says.
Companies that want to have better interactions with their customers may first want to improve their corporate culture, Temkin advises. "Go into a Trader Joe's and ask any person at the register if they like working there. Almost all the time, they'll say they love it there. Anywhere else, they might say they like their job, but no one says it's great. You also get some weird looks."
An employee who is treated with respect and understands the company's mission is more likely to pass that attitude on to the customer. Disney's theme parks, which work hard to deliver on their mission of being"the most magical place on earth," have incredibly high standards for their employees. Their corporate training arm, The Disney Institute, which helps other companies apply insights from Disney, offers the example of someone holding a janitor-type position at a Disney park. If a child drops an ice cream cone, the employee is empowered to go ask for a replacement cone from the nearest vendor, and then bend down on one knee to deliver it to the child eye-to-eye. Only then does the janitor clean up the mess. That's not only respecting the customer experience, it displays empathy, because what's worse than being a child without an ice cream cone—or a parent with a child on the verge of a tantrum?
Companies are up against increasingly fickle consumers who are constantly evaluating the fit of their brand. According to the Accenture "2013 Global Consumer Pulse Research" report, we have entered a switching economy, where $5.9 trillion is up for grabs a year globally due to consumers changing their brand loyalties. The report states that 82 percent of people felt their service provider could have done something to prevent them from switching, but didn't.
Credibility comes down to delivering on brand promises. Doing that requires asking questions such as "Do we understand our brand enough? How do we translate it into things we deliver to our customers?" Temkin says. The rules are basic, but as companies expand, they often have a harder time tying their interactions with customers back to their core mission. More than three-quarters (79 percent) of consumers in Accenture's study "were very frustrated when providers promised one thing but delivered another one," showing little tolerance for broken brand promises. "Know what your brand stands for and communicate that when you interact with customers. It can't just be in the call center, it has to be on the Web site, in the branch banks," says Ryan Hollenbeck, senior vice president of marketing at Verint Systems, which offers workforce optimization solutions and services