Terry Cain, former Vice President Global Customer Engagement, Avnet, discussed what it takes to create a culture of service excellence in his keynote presentation to Argyle's Customer Experience (CX) membership at the 2016 Customer Experience Forum in Denver on Oct. 20. In his presentation, "Creating a Culture of Service Excellence," Cain outlined the factors that business professionals need to consider to develop and sustain a service-oriented culture.
According to Cain, the customer journey has become more complex than ever before.
Globalization has led many companies to consider innovative ways to connect with customers. However, few businesses possess the skills and know-how needed to drive successful customer interactions along each stage of the customer journey.
"We are on [this journey] together. It is not linear, and it goes around the corner just about every other day," Cain said.
Furthermore, CX is now a part of the global business culture, and how a company connects with and fosters long-lasting partnerships with customers will play a pivotal role in a business' long-term success.
If a company devotes the necessary time and resources to learn about its customers, it may be better equipped to understand why customers may choose one business over another.
However, because the global marketplace continues to change, driving CX improvements remains an ongoing challenge for many businesses.
"I think the embedded part of culture … it's the holy grail," Cain noted. "We will never arrive at the fully embedded because things are constantly changing."
Building a CX strategy may help a company enhance its customer interactions both now and in the future.
"If we are focused on the relationships and building them over time and have customer loyalty, then we know that a [relationship-based approach] is going to work for our bottom line."
Conversely, business professionals must account for the rapidly changing customer journey as they create this strategy. By doing so, these professionals may be able to identify customer behaviors and trends and use this information to drive long-lasting CX improvements.
Cain pointed out that Millennials are changing the way that many companies evaluate CX, and perhaps it's easy to understand why.
Millennials are part of today's always-on, always-connected group of consumers. And if a company fails to learn about this target audience, it may miss out on growth opportunities.
"If we don't do it, somebody else will, and they'll get the profits and sales," Cain said.
Comparatively, a business that devotes the necessary time and resources to learn about Millennials and its other target audiences can find the best ways to interact with them day after day. As a result, this company will be able to provide customers with "authentic" experiences – something that may help a business stand out from its rivals.
"The customer has the ability to recognize what's authentic and what's real, and they can do it on your website and with other people as well," Cain pointed out. "The information is out there."
There are many barriers that business professionals will need to overcome to build a customer-centric culture as well.
From dealing with department silos to getting executive buy-in, business professionals face many challenges to ensure they can create a customer-centric culture.
In addition, how a company approaches its customers may impact its long-term success.
"Our customers don't expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to fix [things] when they break."
Cain pointed out that taking a relationship-based approach to customer interactions versus a transactional-one could lead a business to drive customer partnerships.
In a relationship-based approach, a company is able to put its customers' needs first. As such, the business may be better equipped to understand its customers' needs and fulfill their requests accordingly.
On the other hand, a transactional-based approach may focus solely on the bottom line. And if a business implements this approach, it may miss out on opportunities to build trust and loyalty with its customers.
"If we are focused on the relationships and building them over time and have customer loyalty, then we know that a [relationship-based approach] is going to work for our bottom line," Cain stated.
Ultimately, a relationship-oriented approach may help a company learn from its customers and maximize the value of the customer feedback that is available.
Customers now can provide feedback about a business from any location, at any time. Plus, customers can share their feedback with one another in real-time and influence how a company, its products and its services are perceived across its respective industry.
Fortunately, a business that takes a relationship-based approach to customer interactions can track the pulse of its customers day after day. This approach empowers business professionals to become customer-centric and ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty remain top priorities.
"Our customers don't expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to fix [things] when they break," Cain said. "[Customers] expect us to have a service recovery plan. And that way, they're loyal to you."