Kindness – Good for Your Soul and Your Bottom Line

Several years ago, I took my daughter to see the live action version of Disney’s Cinderella. One line has remained with me. “Have courage and be kind.” A seemingly simple statement that paired with the golden rule “do onto others as you’d have done to you” provides, in my humble opinion, a fantastic mantra for human interaction. During this time of ongoing change and societal unrest it is important to feel connected and acknowledge that everyone is living through with their own personal struggles.

As a champion of customer experience and organizational customer centricity, I also believe that this mantra has a strong business application. For several years, I have had the pleasure of partnering with a major grocery chain diligently working to evolve their customer centric practice and overall customer experience (CX).

Voice of the Customer

The Customer Insights team and its leadership showed significant courage standing up to executives and challenging the status quo by implementing an objective voice of the customer program. When our journey began, the brand was in a place of unverified conjecture. Executives held a common belief of how their customers perceived their experience and did not welcome dissenting opinions.

Over the course of our first year together we were able to gather objective data, highlight incorrect assumptions and connect true CX with the organization’s customer attrition, monetary decline and reputational shortcomings. Dispelling incorrect assumptions allowed the organization to evolve and improve their CX.

Approximately six months after our nationwide program roll-out we had enough customer feedback to identify the drivers of overall experience. Interpreting these key drivers of experience within the context of performance, allowed us to recommend areas of focus for improvement. Acknowledging that every touchpoint in need of attention could not be actioned at once, we collaboratively developed a strategic plan to maximize impact on business outcomes. The plan was based on three factors:

  1. Impact of each touchpoint on overall experience (as measured by NPS)
  2. Anticipated return on investment (ROI) associated with successful improvement of each touchpoint along with the corresponding improvement in NPS
  3. The resources (time, budget, people) required to successfully alter performance

As the organization continues to evolve along its unique path to customer centricity, they appreciate the need to annually refresh their understanding of the key drivers of experience (NPS). As action plans for improvement are carried out, pain-points are eliminated. When the issues associated with these former pain-points are resolved, their impact on a customer’s overall experience is diminished. The key driver refresh accounts for these improvements and allows brands to refocus attention to secondary drivers formerly given lower priority. Finally, performance on the former set of key drivers continues to be monitored to safeguard against possible performance relapse.

Under normal circumstances a driver refresh is expected to illuminate minor priority shifts and highlight areas in need of higher priority focus. Enter COVID-19 and get ready for an entirely new story to unfold for your brand. Our experience with our grocery client during the initial days of the COVID-19 quarantine measures unveiled significant shifts in individual key driver impact rankings and highlighted new and emerging drivers.

Our COVID-19 influenced key driver refresh uncovered shifts in overall importance of formerly identified drivers and greater tolerance for less than expected performance on drivers that previously elicited harsh criticism. Former areas of greatest importance perceived value and quality fell to the bottom of the list among key touch-points while cashier friendliness and store cleanliness moved to the top. Customers adjusted their expectations giving the retailer a break on aspects no longer deemed as completely within the grocer’s control (e.g. items in stock).

In short, our analysis revealed that in a time when comfort levels are low, and uncertainty is high, customers and employees need more than ever to be treated with kindness. In this brand’s unique context, kindness is defined by providing a shopping and working environment that is clean and responsive to individual needs. The brand understands that customers and employees are showing tremendous courage entering their stores during a pandemic and they are responding with kindness and respect, listening to concerns and adjusting practices in real-time so that employees and customers feel supported and protected.

CX @ ENGINE

ENGINE consistently works with our partners to help them evolve on their unique journey toward a fully actualized customer centric business practice. We meet brands where they are and help them plot the path to success through achievement of business objectives and goals. Our holistic approach combines your customers’ and employees’ voices with performance measurement, behavioral data and predictive analytics to reveal the specific levers that drive customer acquisition, facilitate retention and maximize customer lifetime value.

We bring an experienced fresh perspective to your unique situation offering more than a traditional measurement program or under-activated consulting report. Our team of industry and customer experience experts fully immerse themselves in our partners’ organizations to create their system for sustainable change.

During this time of rapid change, shifting priorities and new perspectives, we look forward to partnering with forward thinking organizations that invest in their success by improving their CX.

When you are ready, let’s discuss the implications of COVID-19 on your unique customer journey and key experience touch-points. In the meantime, please feel free to explore ENGINE’s complete perspective and approach to Customer Centricity which can be found here.

Written by Nicole Garberg, VP at ENGINE Insights.