06 January 2020 | Iain Shorthose
A dedicated customer experience (CX) team isn't only good for customers, it can serve as an effective internal training function too, says Iain Shorthose.
As an engineer for British Gas in the 1990s, I saw the problems created by failing to put the customer at the centre of the process.
But British Gas recognised its shortcomings, such as telephone operatives and service engineers working independently from each other. The organisation created a CX function that mapped out the customer journey. It identified friction points and motivated employees to work together to support the CX.
Successful customer partnerships in FM live or die by the strength of human interactions and a company's ability to build rapport and long-term relationships. With tight budgets, fierce competition and high customer expectations, expect to see rapid progression in CX initiatives in the FM industry.
That's why we created a CX team. But it serves two purposes: putting customers at the centre of all decision-making processes, of course, and internally developing our colleagues.
Training frontline colleagues in CX helps them understand who their customer is, gives them insight into the bigger organisational picture, reveals how they add value, and shows the importance of adhering to service standards. The course also includes sections on communication skills, dealing with a range of situations and bringing complaints procedures to life.
It's vital that we understand the difference between customer service - doing something for a customer - in comparison with delivering excellent CX. The latter involves the bigger picture, understanding how the hospital cleaner's role, for example, plays a vital part in patient and visitor safety and ultimately enables the clinicians to do their job.
CX is about how we add value to contracts via knowledge and human capital.
Iain Shorthose is customer experience director at Interserve