What would be your advice to someone who arrives at a new company and finds that its customer experience problems are being very poorly handled?

by Abraham Venismach
Here is the real answer to why we (the business/employees) feel we deliver customer service so much better than our customers perceive: we are not in our customers’ shoes. The vast majority of Customer facing employees cannot relate to their Customers. Many times they may have little in common with their Customers, they might be a different generation, quality of life, and most of all, have never been a Customer of the product or service they are selling. We do not relate to their reality. We are not and have never been them. And if you can’t relate to someone else’s situation or circumstances, it is impossible to have any kind of empathy for them. Without empathy, you lack compassion and creativity. World-class service organizations teach their employees to view things from the customer’s perspective. Remember, many employees have never been their own customer, have never needed the services and products their company provides, cannot comprehend what the customer’s mind-set is. Therefore, they do not relate well and find it difficult to empathize, be compassionate, and anticipate customer needs.

John DiJuliusAn international consultant & best selling author of two books he works with companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestle, Marriott Hotel, PwC, Cheesecake Factory, Progressive Insurance, Harley Davidson, State Farm, Chick-fil-A & many more.

A book could be written to answer this question! As an operator, I always try to understand a problem … get to the root cause. What is the definition of ‘very poorly handled?’ How are we measuring that and how did I reach that conclusion. Once the problem is fully understood, the journey to solving it begins. From there we could go thousands of different directions. The most important piece of information to get started is to understand how and why CX problems are being poorly handled.

Steven CarletonPresident, CustomerMatters | Former Head of Customer Experience @eBay | CustomerJourney Speaker | Passionate about CX

Examine the culture of the organization to learn what core values are driving the manner which front line employees’ are dealing with customers. Perhaps delighted customers is not nearly important as other factors. Get front line employees involved in gathering intelligence about what problems are being mishandled and learn their ideas for how to improve. Start a company initiative to “listen to customers” (or VOC) in countless ways to learn the systemic reasons that mishandling is occurring. What are executive leadership talking about in the organization? If it is not “all about the customer” it might be very revealing.

Chip BellSenior Partner at The Chip Bell Group | Author | Keynote Speaker | Innovative Service | Customer Loyalty

It depends on what the new person’s role is within the new company. If the new person is in a management role, then I would suggest they begin to ask questions to determine awareness of the issue and what if anything is being done to address said issue. if the new person’s role finds them in front of the customer, then it becomes necessary to speak with their immediate supervisor about their concerns and gauge the response to determine if the level of awareness and level of commitment to address the concerns.

Errol AllenCustomer Service Focused Operations Expert, Consultant, Speaker & Author

The first thing I would want to know is who has responsibility for CX in the company. If this person is a peer, or more junior to you then you should be able to have a frank conversation to learn more about the challenges being faced. If they are senior to you then it can be more challenging, but nonetheless if you have come to the business with a strong CX reputation you should still be able to get an audience, but you will probably need to be more sensitive about how you approach the issues. In either case, and assuming there is a desire to do something about it, then I would suggest that you are the first volunteer for the “new” cross-functional team that will address these issues. It’s likey that you won’t be alone in wanting to do something about it, and shouldn’t have too many problems in gaining support and participation. Clearly this should have the sponsorship of a senior executive and they will need to know that there will be a measurable ROI for any steps taken as this is generally what holds back any CX program. This won’t be easy, but if you get the OK for the initial session ensure that it is a constructive, but frank and honest assessment of the current state of the nation and that you can play this back, along with some high level recommendations to the senior team, along with the associated benefits. If the problems truly run deep, then you should be able to identify some “quick wins” that will improve CX for customers, demonstrate an authentic desire to change for colleagues and ideally provide some initial financial or reputational benefits for the business. This needn’t take a long time nor be prohibitively expensive and if done right can establish the foundations and blueprint for a strong CX program .

Gerry Brown Saving the World from Bad Customer Service – Customer Experience Specialist, Speaker on Customer Inspired Thinking

Under the assumption that the company truly wants to improve their CX efforts, there could be two main reasons for the problems. One is the plan is good but the implementation is flawed, and the other is that the plan is flawed. You need to find out which and fix it. A great place to start is your customer complaint department. If they aren’t focused on being customer centric, neither will the company. If they are, then the problem is implementation. Either way, you now know what to fix. Good Luck!

Dr. Moshe DavidowService2Profit-Improving Your Business Performance | Customer Centricity, Service Quality+Internal, Complaint Handling Adjunct Lecturer at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Editor at Journal of Creating Value Lecturer in Marketing and Services

“Not sure what “”customer experience problems”” means here. Again, I don’t think about this as the front line, but rather the end to end one company experience. Usually CX issues occur because the silos aren’t uniting and because of competing metrics and because leaders aren’t united in understanding the baseline of the disjointed experience they are inadvertently delivering today. A key first action is to redefine the customer journey from the customers’ point of view, and then bring in customers or customer feedback and have leaders as teams evaluate the one-company reliability of the experience being delivered in each stage – from the CUSTOMERS’ perspective. If they are honest, and check their silos at the door, they will see as a team, that the experience is largely unreliable. This action gets traction and starts to explain in operational terms, the work ahead. “

Jeanne BlissCustomer Experience Pioneer. Chief Customer Officer. Keynote Speaker. Executive Advisor. Author. Co-founder CXPA.org

Awesome question. Let me start with a DON’T. Whatever you do, don’t come across negatively (“Hey, we are really horrible at dealing with problems..”). The best bet is to first earn a reputation as a customer service superstar. After that, you can begin to gradually make suggestions and recommendations as to how things can be improved.

Shaun BeldingCEO The Belding Group, Best-Selling Author, Customer service expert, Acclaimed customer service keynote speaker, LinkedIn group owner “Customer Service Champions” 100K+ Members, Co-Host of the CX Success Summit

The first thing I would do is go and better understand what is happening and why problems are occurring. Often there is a difference between what we assume is happening and reality.

Adrian SwinscoeCustomer Engagement, Experience and Service Consultant/Coach | Speaker | Author | Blogger & Forbes contributor

If customer service issues are not being handled well across the board, you should look in three areas: culture and hiring, resources and empowerment, and frontline training. Great reactive service can only be provided by a customer-centric team composed of the right team members. Assuming your culture is strong and your team is customer focused, then you need to make sure you have given them the resources and empowerment to be able to resolve customer experience problems in real time. Finally, your team must be trained to handle difficult situations and to use the resources and empowerment you provide them to resolve issues as positively and quickly as possible.

Adam ToporekCustomer Service Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Master Trainer | Rock your socks off presentations that are engaging, dynamic, and immediately actionable!

To sum it up…

It depends on the position you are hired for, that would determine how you could approach it. Also to get a clear picture how CX is defined, who’s involved, what systems are in place or not, what’s working and what’s not. Do the employees relate to the customer, can they?  ~ Abraham

Share this article

Leave a comment

Our LinkedIn members had questions for the Experts... Here they are with answers >