Updated: Sep 20, 2021
In this article, our founder Rob Arnold shares 8 key steps that have proved to be successful common threads across the RCA client landscape since 2010.
Since 2010, RCA has, in conjunction with our training programmes, mystery shopped over 1200 retail, hospitality, automotive & healthcare brands. The recommendations which follow are a synthesis of the common threads inherent in the most successful brands we have audited and partnered with.
1. Find the balance between the Transactional & Transformational Mindset
One of the most common symptoms within a company not delivering on its potential is an imbalance between a transactional versus transformational mindset inherent across the team.
What's the difference? A transactional mindset is the state we find ourselves in to tick the necessary boxes in order to get through the day. The transactional mindset does not move the needle in terms of a customer's perception or degree of value felt.
When a customer complains about a lack of attention, it is most often the function of staff stagnating in the transactional mindset.
While there are many functions within an organisation where the transactional mindset is important to ensure rigorous execution, the coalface of the customer experience is not one of them.
How do you find the optimal balance? People operate in a transformative mindset when their purpose and reason for being is clear. When we have a clear purpose and intent behind a task, we apply ourselves, we are conscious of what is happening around us. We are acutely lucid of the environment. The bi-product of this approach is that we become more aware of those we are engaging with. A constructive company workshop can also be defined as one where the delegates found themselves in a transformational mindset and left with a clear sense of their purpose going forward.
In order to operate in the transformative state, one has to shift from being a passenger in your role to being the player. This is either achieved through self-drive/motivation or a progressive accountability structure within the company that requires people to be present both physically and mentally.
2. Define the Culture of your Organisation in One-Page
The vision and mission of a company mean nothing unless they manifest in terms of the behaviour of those who represent the organisation.
Companies historically spend all the conscious time and energy formulating these wonderfully worded documents which on paper sound utopic but in reality are significantly far removed from what customers actually experience when dealing with the representatives of the organisation.
What we, at RCA, have always subscribed to is a one-pager that clearly and simply articulates the purpose and behaviour-set of the company in question. This is a document easily understood by any staff member from the CEO to the receptionist.
The idea is that the one-pager is never far away as a reference point and serves as the port of call whenever there is any confusion or dispute regarding the best way forward.
If you would like an idea of what a one-pager like this could look like for your organisation, get in touch with us.
3. Formulate a Customer Journey Map & Measure against these Expectations
The specificity of your expectations will always determine the specificity of the outcome.
It is important for all staff involved in the execution of the customer experience that they know exactly what they are aiming for.
The customer journey map is a wonderful tool to achieve this clarity of expectation because it explains to all involved what the experience needs to look like from a customer's perspective. Whether it is how a customer is greeted upon arrival or what the sales approach needs to resemble, it is a point of reference that facilitates consistency.
At RCA, we develop a customer journey map for our clients as a point of departure and then integrate this into the mystery shopper programme which measures the execution of the standards articulated in the customer journey map.
4. Enable your Customers to provide Real-Time Feedback
With modern technology, it is now feasible to attain feedback from your customers in the moment rather than them feeling disgruntled and having no other means other than an uncomfortable confrontation to voice their dissatisfaction.
At RCA, we make use of QR code technology as well as simple form technology to empower the voice of the customer.
By simply scanning a QR code with their mobile phone, the customer has the power to provide feedback on premises which is then immediately delivered to the relevant parties within the organisation.
This approach not only enables the organisation to deal with any dissatisfaction in the moment but also builds a useful data-set to inform decision-making and manage performance proactively going forward.
By not having a live customer feedback opportunity, customers take their dissatisfaction home with them only to convey their negative sentiment to others and spread poor sentiment of one's brand.
5. Adopt an Infinite Approach to Customer Service
If there's one truth that we as RCA have learnt many times over the past 12 years, it is that you cannot WIN customer service. In other words, it is not a finite exercise. There is no start, middle and end.
The companies and brands that get it right more often than most are those who advocate for the constant reinforcement of expectation in unique and creative ways.
The infinite mindset and approach is not about what one's competition are doing but rather how you can incrementally move the needle a little more in the right direction each and every day.
Tony Robbins has often said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a week, month or year. The only way we can effectively develop the muscle of customer service excellence is to do the work incrementally as well as regularly rather than a workshop every blue moon.
Remember that every engagement between our teams and our customers that does not meet or exceed expectations is essentially a missed opportunity to increase per-head spend.
Moments of magic in customer service do not happen purely because the server has the skill-set to execute. Moments of magic happen because the individual sees it as their purpose and mission to transform the state of the customer through their skill-set. In other words, it is a conscious decision.
6. Cultivate a Culture of Learning (avoid the plateau effect)
There are typically one of two streams which employees fall into within the context of an organisation,
a) a growth stream in which the individual continues to challenge themselves and thereby remains stimulated OR
b) the path/stream of least resistance where the individual sees little need to grow and is consequently not stimulated ultimately defaulting to complacency and demotivation.
Companies which retain the right talent (and customers) focus on the cultivation of an environment where employees are provided with a structured growth path. They are also kept accountable to their own growth and measured against the progression of their learning.
Sustained growth happens through structured reinforcement of relevant principles to a job role's success.
We have learnt that the best way to achieve a culture of growth across the business is a blended learning approach.
7. Implement a Progressive Performance Management Approach
People don't want to be managed, they want to be led. Having said this, if we're honest with ourselves, we all need a bit of constructive feedback from time-to-time in order to maintain our course. Performance management must exist as part of the culture and not be an outlying exercise that happens once a year.
Imagine if your Google Maps gave you just one instruction at the start of your trip and then waited until you eventually made it to the destination to inform you that you'd arrived (if you ever did).
Effective performance management enables your organisation to be agile and adapt with the changing requirements and expectations of your customers.
At RCA, we have been working hard to identify how to solve the perennial challenge of performance management. In September 2021, we launched the Progressive Performance Management Platform.
8. Get your Team comfortable with the Uncomfortable Internal Conversations
One of the most truthful quotes I have heard my career when it comes to the workplace (and I guess as much so in physics) is that "There can be no movement without friction."
So the key step here is being able to differential between good and bad friction.
To simplify the notion somewhat for the purposes of this article, people get more comfortable having an uncomfortable conversation when
a) they have a pre-determined point of reference and
b) they focus on challenging the idea/concept rather than the person.
When employees feel like they have the right to respectfully challenge the strategy/direction, they become more invested in the process. Motivation is a function of the degree to which we feel significant in an environment. When we provide our employees with a voice to contribute to the direction, the individuals who are meant to be part of your culture will thrive off of that opportunity.
It is important to remember that structure to how our employees contribute and share their perspectives is key. Without the proper structures, people often struggle to use discretion appropriately and can overshoot the mark or just use the opportunity as a soap-box.
Many a wise man has often said that we do business with people, not businesses. It is therefore important to remember that what endears us to people (and therefore businesses) is how their intention is interpreted through the lens/perspective of the customer.
If I am confident that a given group of people representing company X have my best interests at heart, I will choose to support them now and until such time as I feel that this intention changes. So my final question is this, "How is the intention of your people and brand landing with the cross-section of customers you serve?" Do you have a definitive answer or are you making, to whatever extent, a series of assumptions? There are many things in the value chain that can and will from time-to-time fall outside of our control but our intention will always be one aspect very much within our ambit.