Your People Could Be Your Competitive Advantage…….

They could also be your down fall and a number of industries have been moving to minimise that risk by replacing their people with machines and technology.

Banks, Telco’s and airlines are just a few industries that have taken steps to minimise the direct contact customers have with a real person and others are looking to follow according to Chris Bell Managing Director of Customer Experiences Ltd a company that specialises in the development of customer experiences.

Bell said that some of the moves in this direction have been embraced by customers because they have increased convenience, speed and consistency, turning what was in many cases a frustrating or annoying experience into one that now meets expectations.

Bell is warning business to be very careful when contemplating this approach. For businesses like the examples given, there are clear customer and company benefits but for others like Tower Insurance it clearly was a backward step and they are now opening new branches to increase people contact.

Bell says that as we continue to increase our use of e-commerce, direct face to face contact will decrease and he sees this as an advantage for those organisations that are contemplating developing a customer experience strategy. Direct customer contact can be very beneficial for businesses, as long as these organisations understand the three fundamentals that make the strategy successful- committed leadership, an employee and customer focused culture and the importance of having the right people.

Bell uses a recent example he heard. A customer of one of our Telco’s was going on an overseas holiday and wanted to find out about mobile phone calling rates while he was away, a question that could have been quickly answered by contacting the right person at the company. However that was not an option and after an hour of trying to find the information on the company’s website gave up frustrated and with no answer.

Regardless of how an organisation delivers their customer experience it will be that experience that they will be judged on. With customer loyalty on the decline, employee disengagement is at an all time high. The ability for customers to have a powerful impact on a business’s reputation through word of mouth, means it has never been more important to ensure your people are your competitive advantage. mb 027 2792360