Amid the competitive landscape, how you see and care for your customers may be what makes or breaks your success in business. And while training employees to become customer champions can be met with internal obstacles and the need to incentivize desired behaviors, doing so can empower organizations to respond organically to buyers’ needs and, as such, rise above the competition.
Fortunately, most employees inherently want to do right by customers when they have clear goals and effective motivators. In this article, we’ll share three tips for cultivating happy employees who go beyond the bar and are fired up to deliver on behalf of customers.
What Is a Customer Champion?
A customer champion is far more than a customer service representative. Customer champions are connectors, helping to build lasting relationships between customers and brands by understanding their human-centric goals. In other words, customer champions extend their empathy to the whole human, comprehending customer needs and desires well beyond why or how they use your product or service.
Motivating Employees to Become Champions for Customers
We can all agree the idea of a team of customer champions sounds great, but how can organizations encourage employees to rise to the occasion? Below are three strategies to create and maintain a customer-centric culture in your workplace where everyone, from the C-suite to the front lines, can champion the efforts.
1. Cultivate Customer Empathy
Does your team comprehend the customer journey? Perhaps they know it in theory or they’ve seen it on paper, but the key is to understand the experience from the customer’s point of view. Customers’ motivations, expectations, pain points, and delighters along points on the journey help form that point of view.
And while we can’t always predict external factors impacting customers, understanding them as individuals can empower employees to drive more authentic connections between themselves and customers, as well as deliver on their underlying needs or goals.
Practicing empathy with customers means asking meaningful questions and listening to what the customers are really saying. And for employees who are not on the front line, creating ways for them to internalize the wants and needs of customers goes a long way. This kind of deep understanding helps establish trust between customers and the brand and helps build a stronger interplay between the employee experience and the customer experience.
Additionally, primary research, surveys, and other post-purchase feedback mechanisms can help employees better understand the customers they serve, not to mention providing the benefit of requesting feedback directly rather than waiting for customers to leave a review. Surveys and other primary research methods can be tailored to measure overall customer satisfaction and provide opportunities for customers to pinpoint areas for improvement, which can positively impact the core sales process of the business.
2. Integrate Customer Data into Your Core Business Processes
Developing a customer-driven organization means integrating customer data into every part of the company’s operations. Unfortunately, the larger the organization, the greater the tendency for team members to occupy different “silos,” where data and processes are isolated, stifling the flow between departments.
Solving this problem can be as simple as designing an information-sharing pipeline. Integrating data between departments allows customer information to flow freely throughout the company and eliminates barriers that are preventing different departments from making customer-focused business decisions.
Customer data should be maximized by leveraging it between cross-departmental processes. Naturally, how system efficiencies manifest will depend on the individual business, but the focal point is to allow customers to exert influence over core business processes.
Ideally, this goes on to create a companywide, customer-centric culture where customer needs are considered every step of the way. This works all the better when employees understand the customer journey intimately and can advocate for solutions that better serve your target market in real time.
3. Create a Reward System
Nothing communicates that you value customers to employees like an incentivization program. Setting customer-based key performance indicators (KPIs) for employees that focus on how well they are delivering on customer performance indicators (CPIs) can help the workforce understand that goals extend well beyond the financial bottom line and set their attention to achieving customer-specific goals.
Ask employees what motivates them, listen closely, and provide rewards that cater to those responses. Effective incentive programs hold the power to not only change individual employee behavior but also help shape the broader organizational vision, keeping everyone on the same page.
Incentives can and should be more than just a bonus check. Providing positive reinforcement regularly for key behaviors you want to see replicated and honoring a standout employee for being a customer champion spotlight the kinds of habits you want staff to lead with when delivering on customer goals.
Customer Champions Realign Your Business
The longer you’re in business, the easier it becomes to experience “mission drift,” when business processes no longer align with the broader, customer-centric vision. Cultivating customer champions is one way to realign the business, placing renewed emphasis on valued customers to ensure operational efficiency and continued customer loyalty. When this is achieved, employees can help steer the course of business and even reimagine the business with customers at the center.
Amy Perifanos is the Vice President of Strategy & Implementation at Gongos, Inc., a Michigan-based consultative agency whose mission is to reorient the relationship between customers and corporations to be mutually beneficial.