Our Customer Experience Best Practices Study revealed that organizations reporting the most successful customer experiences—ones that lead to greater customer loyalty and higher spending per customer—have four key characteristics in common:
- They have executives who walk the talk
- Their customer experience practices translate strategy into action
- They follow journey maps that eliminate silos between marketing, sales and service teams
- They’ve hired and developed the right talent
Our study divided respondents into two groups: Leaders, or the 55% of organizations that improved their customer satisfaction (CSAT) score over the last year, and Laggards, the 45% of organizations whose CSAT remained the same or declined. We found that half of the Leaders felt that they were doing an effective job in people management, compared to a fifth of Laggard organizations. We also isolated nine talent strategies that set Leaders apart from Laggards when it comes to having the right talent to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
1. Hiring the Right Talent
To execute on a customer experience strategy, organizations need to hire the right talent. The first step in a sound hiring process is to define what good looks like, using hiring profiles. For service teams, ideal candidates will have two skill sets: technical expertise and interpersonal skills. Beyond that, a data-driven assessment can guide you in determining which attributes lead to success in your organization. Look for the intangibles, such as cognitive skills, learning propensity and interpersonal relating approaches, to distinguish between potential high and low performers.
2. Developing Service Reps’ Knowledge and Skills
Leader organizations invested 50% more in training for service reps and managers than Laggard organizations. On average, they spent $1,500 per associate per year; a quarter of Laggards said their organization spent less than $50 per associate per year, while a quarter of Leaders reported that their organization spent more than $2,500 per associate per year. These training programs focused on both hard skills—technical expertise in the organization’s products or services—and soft skills—the ability to leave customers with a positive feeling from listening with empathy, solving problems, defusing anger and more.
Based on the data you collect in your hiring process, personalize your new hire onboarding program to address any development gaps. Extend learning past onboarding with an ongoing customer experience training program that continues to evolve your service team’s skills.
3. Assessing Performance
Leading organizations continually assess incumbent service reps against their hiring profiles to identify what attributes are driving success. They also use these assessments to identify areas for further development and coaching and to evaluate employees’ potential to assume more challenging roles in the organization.
4. Recognizing Service Personnel for Performance
Top sales organizations regularly recognize and acknowledge the contributions of their service team. They show gratitude for their employees individually during performance reviews as well as publicly during team meetings. The more genuinely appreciated your service reps feel, the more they’ll enjoy their work, and the more motivated they’ll be to deliver a positive experience to your customers.
5. Building Teams Across the Service Organization
Customers should feel as if their service experience is seamless: there should be no difference in how they are treated, regardless of the channel they use or the rep they connect with. Organizations that have mapped the touchpoints along the customer journey through the organization and that share information through an up-to-date CRM improve communication and ensure everyone on the team speaks in a single, consistent voice.
6. Setting Standards for the Service Organization
Successful service organizations have set clear objectives based on customer feedback: they know that hearing the voice of the customer is essential to understanding customer perceptions. They use both qualitative and quantitative data to measure which channels and interactions are the most effective and which need improvement.
7. Empowering Front-Line Employees to Take Action
Companies with high customer experience metrics empower their service teams to act creatively to solve customer problems. They’re also more likely to pre-authorize concessions if needed to address upset customers.
8. Implementing Improvement Plans
The vast majority (81%) of managers in Leader organizations use, at minimum, an informal process to coach their service associates; 35% use a formal process. But 56% of Laggard organizations “leave training up to the manager,” which may mean that reps get no training at all. Leaders are also nearly twice as likely to spend at least one hour per week coaching their associates than Laggards.
Great managers use a variety of tools to provide meaningful feedback to service reps, whether it’s insights from their personal experience, observations based on recorded calls, customer experience metrics such as CSAT scores or quality team scores.
9. Terminating Poor Performers
Leading organizations use key performance indicators and assessments to identify poorly performing reps. Without this data, organizations are likely to allow deficient performers to languish in service roles, damaging customer relationships. The earlier an organization recognizes that its current talent lacks the skills or capacity to improve, the faster they can select new talent to improve the customer experience.
The Success of Your Customer Experience Strategy Rests in Your Talent
Even the best customer experience strategy will fail if your organization hasn’t equipped your service reps with the skills to execute it. Contact us to learn how to create a culture of continuous development that will elevate your customer experience with Service Ready training.