To Infinity and Beyond…How Buzz Lightyear Can Rescue the Customer Experience

In the classic Disney film trilogy Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear uses the now iconic catch phrase, “to infinity and beyond” as his ‘clarion call’.

In today’s customer experience driven world this phrase should be our clarion call too, why? Because the worlds of customer service and Employee Engagement can no longer be seen as separate domains they have become inextricably linked in ways that mean that decisions in one area can have an infinite number of consequences on the experience in the other.

Back in the ’90s the concept of ‘virtuous’ and ‘vicious’ circles was a popular concept in ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM) circles. The idea was that one bad ‘process’ or ‘action’ will drive behaviours that would further worsen the situation driving a ‘vicious’ cycle but that one good ‘process’ or ‘action’ would do the opposite.  I believe that these concepts still hold true today and are very relevant when it comes to considering customer experience and Employee Engagement.

Customers are going to want to:

  • Use which ever contact channel is most convenient
  • At the moment they want to interact
  • Change channels to suit but which ever channel they use they will …
  • Expect a consistent experience that treats them ‘reasonably’ and ‘efficiently’

In order to do this the right resources need to be available at the right time and with the right motivation.
On the other side employees need to be:

  • Engaged at the right time
  • Be well trained and prepared
  • Understand the level of service to be delivered
  • Have consistent measures against which they can be assessed

But in order to do this the organization needs to understand the customer experience.

This is all common sense but too often we see ‘Customer Experience’ and ‘Employee Engagement’ as two separate disciplines where ‘customer service’ and ‘operational efficiency’ are treated in silos and leading to vicious circles on both sides.

Neither focus is wrong but when done in isolation the application of techniques like:

  • Touch point analysis
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Organizational alignment
  • Workforce planning

This can drive an inappropriate emphasis on one side of the ‘infinity curve’ leading to imbalance, disharmony and those dreaded vicious circles.

The way in which technology is applied can help to address some of these issues, in particular:

  • Reporting and analytical tools
  • Data mining
  • Speech/text analytics

These tools can be used on the customer experience side to understand both the customer journey and the experience that they received.

At the same time on the employee engagement side they can drive improvements in processes, training and recognition.

When these two are joined together to understand both sides then greater insights can be found. Where both customer experience and employee engagement are considered as a ‘total package’ then the virtuous circles can be designed in.

‘To infinity and beyond’ is the call to action:

  • How are you ensuring that there isn’t an over emphasis on one side or the other?
  • How are you making sure that the two sides of the ‘infinite’ customer service process are considered at the same time?
  • What vicious circles are your current practices reinforcing and what virtuous circles could you create?

Looking at this holistically with a focus on balance could bring benefits both in terms of efficiency but also in improving your customer’s experience and stop the need to call Buzz Lightyear the rescue!

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