When Steve Whittington, VP Marketing and Customer Experience at Flaman Group of Companies, saw that the agricultural and fitness equipment company had many leads but sales figues that weren’t keeping up, he knew he had to dig deeper. What he discovered was that sales prospects and customers weren’t having a great experience. “We were pouring leads into a bucket with a hole in it,” he comments in today’s Frank Reactions Podcast on Customer Experience episode.
Since switching to a customer experience focus, Flaman has cut marketing expenditures while getting a 15% compounded growth rate.
Today we explore how they did it.
Data Drives Decisions
To get his executives to buy in to his push for customer experience improvements, Whittington knew he’d need to make his case.
He did so with a combination of recorded telephone calls (few things have as much power as hearing the actual voice of the customer) and data, that showed that deals were being lost needlessly.
It wasn’t even that staff were being rude to customers, but the systems weren’t in place to make life easy for customers. Even someone wanting to buy an expensive piece of equipment could be shunted around to several people in different offices before being able to finish the purchase!
Once he’d sold the executive team, they decided to make customer experience a top priority.
“We went all in because we really believe this is the only thing that can differentiate us as a retailer.”
Steps In The Change Mangement Journey
So where do you even begin when you want to change a company’s approach to customer experience?
Here’s what Whittington and his colleagues did.
- Road Show. They realized that every person in the company would need to be trained on customer experience. Invariably customer experience problems cross divisional boundaries. So he and another vice president went on a road show, visiting every location and introducing them to the concept of the customer journey. (There’s quite a bit in the interview about how he approached this so that staff wouldn’t get on the defensive.)
- Customer Journey Mapping. Again, this involved people from all areas of the organization. In any organization, most customer experience problems happen when a person, responsibility, or task get handed from one staff member to another.
- Training on individual touch points. The customer journey mapping helped identify the most common areas where problems crept in, as well as places where simple wins could be had quickly, like getting everybody to say “thank you” at the end of a phone call.
- Internal marketing materials, like calendars, were developed to keep customer experience top of mind for all employees. This is a message that needs constant, ongoing reinforcement. (For more ideas on this, see the Oxford Properties interview, where they developed the Oxford Commitment Cube.)
- Designing the ideal customer journey. Once you’ve fixed the basics, you can move to the next level. Instead of “finding and fixing” problems, you can get proactive in figuring out what would be a better overall journey, and then start redesigning your systems and training so you can deliver it
The Journey's Never Done
This may be depressing news to some of you, but the reality is that we live in a changing time. What seems like an ideal customer journey today may seem hopelessly outdated a few months from now. (Who was doing customer service via text messages a year ago? Now many companies are.)
On the positive side, tools like artificial intelligence (AI) are being incorporated into services that are affordable even to small business, and those can help you spot trends that indicate problems earlier and more easily than in the past.
As I wrote in PeopleShock, success comes from the 3Ps of Profit. It’s about using technology for what it can do best, inspiring your staff and customers with a strong promise, training your people well and empowering them to do what’s best for the customer, and fine tuning your processes to make it easier for everybody.