Use right-brain techniques to strengthen relationships with customers.
It’s not enough to be better than your competitors: Expectations are set by experiences all around us. So in 2007 Barbara went to the board and recommended service innovation. It took 3 tries to get it to stick: the language that eventually worked was around increasing profitability and revenue.
Barbara’s division was hearing that customers wanted more from them: Customers wanted broader solutions that solved business needs, delivered easily and empathetically. The issue wasn’t price. Leading indicators of client behaviors were measured: How fast does the client return phone calls? Do they invite you to critical meetings?
Presenting what would happen if they did mothering compared to what would happen if they took action, the division decided to take action. The first step was to define the gaps against what they wanted the customer experience to be. Next, a 100-day pilot was planned that would work with a limited number of customers requiring specific cross-functional issues.
A limited number of customers were selected to participate in this early program that spanned different aspects of the business. They consistently found that customers wanted ‘Right brain’ service ‘ ‘gift wrapping’ products and services in friendly interactions that are hassle-free. The gap was that as a company they were more geared to ‘Left brain’ ‘ delivering products and services and measuring specific results. It’s the ‘soft side’ that customers remember and value.
Internal education and awareness of ‘left brain’ ensued. The strategy was one of ‘Yes if”, and NOT ‘No but” They trained staff around responding to customers with, ‘Yes. if [conditions could be met].’ Clients are people, not organizations, and the emotional engagement proved to be very valuable.
At a structural level, the division innovated around specific customer pain points, including a new customer welcome packet that included photos, key bios, and other relevant materials. As a result the client now feels more connected with the account team.
In surveying the employees that went through the pilot in addition to their managers (which wasn’t part of the pilot), they found that managers were consistently providing higher scores and thinking they were performing better than the employees felt. Addressing these gaps helped fill in some of the mentoring opportunities for managers.
All this work resulted in both ‘soft’ results, such as
- An increase in general excitement levels
- Recognition from customers that w=as passed around the company
And also ‘hard’ metrics that increased across the board:
- Client engagement
- Employee engagement
- Customer renewal rates