Most companies understand that providing an outstanding customer experience builds customer loyalty and ultimately grows business. Some of the aspects that are part of building the customer experience include product design, technical support, and marketing. But your efforts shouldn't stop there.
Many employees, managers, and even CEOs don’t realize that a collaborative environment in which each person keeps in mind the end goal (i.e., the success and happiness of the client) not only fosters a pleasant working environment, but creates the conditions for providing the best customer experience possible. Client-facing employees are just the last link in the chain that connects all the employees at a company to the client.
Everyone needs to feel like they have a stake in the ultimate outcome—because they do. Sometimes friction can exist between client-facing employees those who support them. Part of the reason for this conflict may be due to this disconnect between job function and client.
Managers must make sure that their reports understand their role not only in the context of their department, but also within the context of the company’s business goals. This approach defines everyone’s sense of purpose from the top down. If each employee feels valued, feels that what they do makes a difference, they are much more likely to go the extra mile and take better care—all of which trickles down to the customer.
The opposite is also true. For example, if an account manager or a sales representative makes a last-minute request (again) to a developer, that developer might feel that their time is not being valued. Why should they make the time for this extra work when they already have a mountain of other tasks to get through?
In those cases, the developer probably doesn’t recognize the connection between their job and how their performance affects the performance of the company on the whole. The account manager in this situation is trying to provide the best customer service to the client; ergo the developer should do their best to provide internal customer service to the account manager.
And Don't Forget...However, there is second side to the equation. There is a distinction between internal and external customers. Internal customers have a greater obligation to be clear, have reasonable expectations, and make the business value of their requests clear.
If the account manager from our previous example explains to the developer how an added feature will land the company a US$100,000 account, the developer is much more likely to make that project a priority and take care that their work is of the best possible quality. That developer then shares in the success of the sale.
By treating the people within their companies like a valued resource, client-facing employees will be able to build rapport with development, marketing, or any other department that they rely on. As a result, these client-facing employees will have the trust and respect of those players who can help them land a big sale or quell a distressed client.
Invest In RelationshipsIt’s like putting money in the bank—by building strategic internal relationships a company will be able to draw on that goodwill and energy at all levels when you really need to pull out all the stops for a client.
Companies that make collaboration a priority and make each contributor’s value clear will be able to provide a vastly better customer experience than those companies that defeat themselves before they even get in front of a client.
The customer experience your company cultivates will be at its best when your entire workforce functions as a cohesive unit with a singular goal in mind.
Sam Gutmann is president and CEO of Intronis. Find Intronis partner program information here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship.