With CX, the Front Line Is Where the Action Is
When I was in eighth grade I played on my school’s soccer team. One day our goalkeeper didn’t show up for practice and I volunteered to fill in. It was a big mistake. It was fun for one practice, and I actually performed pretty well. But I didn’t expect that I would end up being the team’s goalkeeper for the rest of the season. What’s more, when I got to high school the coach quickly realized I had experience and once again I was the team’s goalkeeper. The goalkeeper is a vitally important position, but as I lingered in my little box protecting the goal, I longed to be on the front line, moving the ball and scoring goals. Indeed, the front line is where the action is.
And the same can be said of customer experience.
ACTION ON THE FRONT LINE
Without question, the top challenge I hear from CX leaders is translating customer insights into action. Too often there is an incredible amount of time and energy spent gathering and interpreting customer insights but a lack of real action to bring about change and generate results.
A critical piece in making this work is getting insights to the front line—contact center associates, account executives, salespeople, clerks, and others who interact with customers on a regular basis. Delivering insights and providing the right guidance for putting them to use can increase loyalty, repeat business, and positive word of mouth.
Here are three practical sources for generating action on the front line:
- Customer insights.The first and most obvious source is insights from customers. While surveys continue to be a practical method, there are other sources—social media, online reviews, website feedback, contact center transcripts, advisory boards. Technology platforms that conduct analysis, interpret freeform text, create dashboards, and intelligently distribute information can help manage and scale large volumes of customer insights.
- Employee insights. While the focus should be primarily on customers, the experiences of employees and customers are inextricably linked. Companies need to know how employees on the front line feel about their work. Do they have the right tools and information? Do they feel empowered to serve customers? You should understand the attitude of the front line if you’re expecting them to take the appropriate action to deliver great experiences.
- VOCE. Voice of the customer through the employee, or VOCE, is an often underused but also quite practical method. Employees are asked to put themselves in the shoes of the customer to share their thoughts. This is particularly effective for companies frustrated by low response rates and the complexity of gathering customer feedback. Frontline employees understand customer issues and are generally happy to share their input. This also reinforces to frontline employees that their opinion matters and will likely influence their propensity for putting insights to use.
Comparing and blending the insights you receive from these three methods provides great information that your front line can use to improve customer experience.
TWO LOOPS FOR ACTION
Of course, just gathering insights from these three sources won’t create action. Those on the front line need to “close the loop” on the insights they receive. Generally two prominent processes, or loops, are effective at getting the most from your insights:
- Micro-loop action.Particularly effective with B2B companies, this means quickly responding to feedback from individual customers or groups of customers. A customer provides feedback that is routed to the right account manager who follows up with the customer to understand their issue and take the appropriate action. Our firm has helped countless organizations develop micro-loop programs that successfully address problems and identify opportunities for additional revenue. It’s one of the most practical ways to generate a clear return on investment from a CX program.
- Macro-loop programs.Many times customer insights reveal broader issues such as quality problems or flawed processes. These require escalation to ensure the issues are identified, root-cause analysis is conducted, and solutions are deployed. Even though these processes take place beyond the front lines, those on the front line play an important role in identifying and escalating such issues while skillfully managing communication with customers.
Do your CX programs generate enough action? If not, consider whether you have the right sources and the most effective methods for turning insights to action. Most important, determine if your front line is a key part of the solution. After all, that’s where the action is!
Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading experience management services firm. He leads marketing and experience management programs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.