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Companies Win with Engaged Customers and Employees, ICMI Speakers Contend: ICMI highlights customer successes when companies listen to customers and employees.

When it comes to customer and employee engagement, the three essential ingredients are connection, collaboration, and care, said Brad Cleveland, senior advisor and founding partner of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), during the keynote that opened ICMI's Contact Center Expo in Fort Lauderdale in May.

"We have an opportunity in every interaction with our customers, and we certainly have that opportunity horizontally with our colleagues across the organization," Cleveland said.

He cited Gucci as an example of a company that is creating unique connections with customers through six new customer service facilities that it opened in locations like Florence, Italy; Shanghai, China; and New York. Real estate in those areas is far from inexpensive, he added.

"Connection opens the door to collaboration," Cleveland said, citing Radio Flyer, known for its red wagons, as an example. When the company realized that many of its customers had moved on from the iconic metal wagon, it had to innovate. It has since gone on to produce folding red wagons, tricycles, scooters, and even a to-scale, battery-powered Tesla car co-designed with Tesla. Radio Flyer re-engaged with its customers to find out what they needed and wanted and is "thriving today because it learned to listen," Cleveland said.

As for care, Cleveland said it is essential to foster care among employees. When they know they're part of something bigger, that they're helping the company innovate, understand its customers, and improve its organization, "that truly matters," he said.

He cited Southwest Airlines as an example, saying that the company consistently puts its employees first and knows that if it values its employees above everything, that will translate into happy customers, increased business and profits, and happy shareholders.

Successful companies have also shifted their focus from process to practice, said Fancy Mills, group training and content director at ICMI, during her presentation. "A practice focus includes all the people and teams that are needed in defining knowledge, skills, and competency levels," she said, adding that it also includes the processes, procedures, policies, information, and technology for managing content, data, suppliers, and partners.

"When we get too process-focused, we don't become practice-focused," she said.

She identified four practice areas where challenges could reside: people and teams (including roles, skills, abilities, and competency levels); processes, procedures, and policies; content, knowledge, information, and technology tools; and suppliers and partners.

Erica Mancuso, director of customer success at Straightaway Health Careers, a provider of online healthcare training, also stressed the need for employee involvement during another session. "People are not involved with change early enough or often enough," she said. "A lot of times, people on the front lines may not feel like they were involved in the decision to make the change and the change was just sprung upon them, which can make those folks feel like they were doing something wrong."

In another breakout session, Justin Chase, president and CEO of Crisis Response Network, a crisis hotline based in Arizona, emphasized transparency as a way to help organizations foster trust with employees, something his firm learned when it let contact center employees craft their own dress code.

Crisis Response Network also encourages executives to engage with employees. "Every day, our executive leadership team has to walk the floor, with no purpose or intention whatsoever. If they have business on the floor, that doesn't count. They have to walk the floor every single day and interact with the staff ... for the staff to feel comfortable and connected," Chase elaborated.

Caption: ICMI founding partner Brad Cleveland said that engaged employees lead to happy customers.
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Author:Del Rowe, Sam
Publication:CRM Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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