Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Bill Gates said that. Still, if you’re out to run a successful business, you might want to limit the number of these priceless fountains of knowledge to a minimum.
Many great business stories from the past decade or two have the customer at the center of memorable success. Some of these companies, understanding the weight of customer satisfaction, have brought that knowledge from customer service to their entire staff.
For example, in a massive effort to stay true to its brand promise, Starbucks famously took the time to train all its employees in how to make the perfect espresso. The company closed its coffee shops during the training period, showing customers that their experience truly matters. The endeavor was a brave one. At its core was a commitment to providing across-the-board consistency in quality for across-the-board customer satisfaction. And it worked.
So, yes, while the customer is central to any company’s success, their experience often hinges on well trained, motivated employees, regardless of industry. It’s they who can ensure your clients’ happiness and drive your sales.
This may sound like a simple equation, but of course it’s not. Few industries know this better than telecom, which has had a tough time holding on to its customers. In fact, client satisfaction in telecom – reflected in key metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) – is significantly lower than it is in other industries. Meaning that there’s little possibility you’ll recommend your telecom provider to a friend or colleague.
NPS is a management tool used to measure customer loyalty. Customers are asked how likely they are to recommend a company or brand to another person. The score can be as low as −100 (everybody‘s a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody’s a promoter). It has been widely adopted: more than two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies use the metric.
The average Net Promoter Score in telecom has been fluctuating at around 20 units over the past few years. Most industries (other than the public sector) score significantly higher.
B2B Service Providers: 60.5
Consumer brands: 42.6
Travel and hospitality: 38.9
The industry is definitely aware that work needs to be done. A PricewaterhouseCoopers CEO Survey reveals customers are now the number one concern for executives in the industry.
As telecom moves to bridge the gap between itself and other industries, it should keep in mind that most customers don’t care in particular about any one phone call, field visit, or other singular touchpoints. According to the Harvard Business Review, what reduces satisfaction is something few companies manage—“cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time.”
Best-in-class companies also use regression models to understand which stops in the journey have the greatest impact on overall customer satisfaction, and then run simulations to get a picture of the potential impact of various initiatives.
Every step of the way, highly competent, well-trained employees make high customer satisfaction possible.
Depending on their position, your employees may interact with customers throughout the day. Keeping them motivated—financially, first and foremost—is inextricably linked with treating customers right. Satisfied employees are loyal employees who, wanting the best for their employer, play a critical role in building a loyal base of clients: on the most fundamental level, the company’s (their company’s) well-being equates with their own. Like anyone else who feels valued and depended upon by the people they give most of their time and effort to, they’ll act as advocates of the company’s brand in front of clients. They’ll also be the client’s advocates within the company.
It’s no wonder that – in most cases – organizations that are renowned as great places to work are also financially sound. Research by Hewitt Associates shows that companies with high levels of employee engagement (65 percent or greater) outperformed the total stock market index and posted shareholder returns 19 percent higher than average in 2009. Still not convinced? Companies with disinterested employees (40 percent or less engagement) saw a 44 percent lower than average total shareholder return.
There are several essential aspects to empowering employees to act as intermediaries between top executives and customers, but what it all comes down to is fair compensation.
A great sales comp management process brings the following best practices with it:
- Flexibility: the ability to make fast and reliable corrections to compensation schemes
- Transparency: real-time employee access to their professional achievements (they can check how close they are to their targets and accurately estimate future earnings)
- Innovation: the use of incentives and gamification to align individual and company objectives.
When you’ve got the above, you’re on track to keeping your employees happy. And you’re putting them on track to acquire customers who not only keep coming back, but for whom it would be a pleasure to recommend your company. How do you grow your NPS score? Sales comp. The same way you increase sales, drive revenue, and stake your claim to success.