Dan Gingiss is an international keynote speaker, customer experience coach, podcaster, and the author of The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share.
Sometimes when we say customer service or customer experience is “everyone’s job,” that ends up meaning that it’s actually no one’s job. After all, unless something represents a significant portion of an employee’s goals or bonus, it is usually ignored.
So let’s be clear up front: Every company needs a team dedicated to serving the customer. This team must have eyes on the entire customer journey while tracking continuous feedback and ROI metrics. It must represent the customer in every business meeting, gain buy-in from management, and help create a culture of customer-centricity.
Enlightened companies understand, though, that every role in every department contributes either directly or indirectly to the customer experience. There are obvious contributors, like customer service agents who are “customer facing.” But even behind-the-scenes employees can have a significant impact; they just may not know it.
Scott Wise, owner of more than a dozen Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants, told me he is “in the business of Customer Service.” What? A guy who owns more than a dozen restaurants isn’t in the restaurant business, but rather he’s in the Customer Service business?
Absolutely, said Wise, adding that if a restaurant has delicious food but terrible service, it fails because it has no customers. But if a restaurant has great food – or even just good food – and outstanding, memorable service, its customers will remain loyal for years to come.
If a restaurant owner is in the customer service business, then surely your employees are, too.
Here are 4 areas of the company where employees should consider themselves to be “in the business of Customer Service” even if that’s not written on their business cards:
Why Customer Service is Everyone’s Job
The Marketing Department
Marketing’s role in the customer experience has grown in recent years, especially as Customer Service teams are being moved under the Chief Marketing Officer. It’s a move that makes sense when you consider that marketing’s job is essentially to promise the great customer experience that the rest of the company is then expected to deliver.
After all, the “consideration” phase of marketing is the customer deciding whether or not to do business with the company, and much of that decision is based on how the customer feels he or she will be treated after parting with their hard-earned money.
Marketing is also often considered a “front-line” role because it communicates directly with customers. And in reality, the experience a customer has with a brand usually starts with some sort of marketing — a billboard, a Super Bowl commercial, a Facebook post, or even a direct mail campaign.
While marketing campaigns tend to focus on the features and benefits of a product or service, there is also the experiential promise — how the customer will feel when they use the product or service or join the brand’s community.
The Finance Department
This is a part of the company that is usually not customer-facing unless a customer has a past-due invoice. But Finance is often responsible for key parts of the customer experience, such as product pricing, loyalty programs, return policy, payment methods, and more.
Consider a company that doesn’t accept credit cards (or a newer trend: one that doesn’t accept cash). This kind of payment policy is actually creating a customer pain point at a very important part of the experience — when the customer is trying to give you money! It would seem that companies would want absolutely no barriers to completing this transaction, yet punitive payment policies abound: additional charges for using a credit card, or being just a day late with a payment.
Finance can also be responsible for communicating how charges are determined (think confusing cell phone or cable bills) and what invoices look like. Understanding that no one wants to receive an invoice, there are opportunities for witty or clever language that can make the experience more palatable and even enjoyable.
The Law Department
As I used to remind the marketing teams I managed in Corporate America, the Law Department’s job is to keep everyone out of jail, so we’d better let them do their jobs. All kidding aside, legal roles are meant to protect both the company and the customer.
But there is no law (pun intended) that legal elements of the customer experience need to be boring. Disclaimers, contract language, privacy policies, and other standard legal aspects of the customer relationship can, at a minimum, be readable (by eliminating acronyms, industry jargon, and complex legal terms) but can also be engaging.
After all, the purpose of most legal language is to ensure that the customer fully understands what they are getting themselves into. But in overusing “legalese” and forcing customers to sign pages-long legal documents, no one is accomplishing that goal.
The Custodial Staff
If your company has a physical presence, the custodial staff is way more important than it gets credit for. Customers expect a clean, well-lit, and safe shopping or eating experience, and it’s very noticeable when any of those elements are absent. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced and even exacerbated the importance of customer and employee safety, which will remain a key facet of customer experience for years to come.
Even with no physical presence, there is the impact on the employee experience. They too want a clean, well-lit, and safe working environment, and we know that happy employees usually translate to happy customers.
No matter where employees work in the organization, they should consider their roles as being in service to the customer, and should be empowered to make decisions or enact changes toward that goal of creating the best customer experience possible.