By Simon Fraser
Story telling and understanding the rules of a “happy life” are two of the dominant themes throughout my career and education, with science being added as an interest as I have grown older.
All three come together beautifully in customer experience (CX).
In his book “Happiness by Design” Paul Dolan argues that true happiness is achieved through a balance of purpose and pleasure, and this really works for me as a rule.
Let’s tackle purpose first, and how this is essential in providing the right framework for CX happiness.
1. Happiness is having a vision.
TS Eliot wrote that “the journey not the arrival matters” and this is as true in CX as it is often in life. Think about the thrill of anticipation in planning a holiday, for example.
Creating a promised land for all levels within your business is key in creating the right environment for a customer experience focus to flourish. This vision should provide a simple and universal description of what you will be achieve through making better decisions for your customers—be it reaching a number one position for customer care (Boots), or making a positive contribution to the everyday lives of your customers (Caffe Nero).
And keep reminding members of your team that whilst journey will no doubt be challenging, getting there will be worthwhile and rewarding.
2. Happiness is living the life you want to live.
Once you have created your vision, be clear on your customer promise and deliver this consistently across your brand, regardless of which channel they visit or when they come into your store. Wilko’s vision of helping customers “getting those to dos done” is a great example of a clearly defined promise.
Be authentic to your vision, and build your products and processes around achieving your customer-orientated goals.
Communicate internally and externally your progress on a regular basis, and make sure that the continued focus is recognised.
CX should never just be an initiative or a fad to introduce as a short-term fix.
3. Happiness is actively pursuing your goals.
Make sure that all parts of your business understand your CX objectives, consistently measure progress against this vision, and record the actions taken.
Celebrate great service examples, and coach those that do not match your ambitions.
4. Happiness is making money, but it’s also about creating great stories.
Business goals may essentially always need to be aimed at commercial gain, but this is rarely enough to get a team behind stretching goals.
Making great memories for your customers and colleagues, building a brand reputation through the stories customers tell about them, and making a positive difference can, however, bond disparate people or departments behind a single goal.
Getting your teams and leaders behind this challenge, and providing a compelling reason why the vision has to be realised, will drive the results you seek.
Now let’s look at pleasure. What can CX learn from more lessons in happiness?
5. Happiness is doing what you do best, as often as you can.
According to most wisdom, understanding who you are, what you love doing, and how to make sure that you make the best use of your time, are keys to a happy life.
For businesses, knowing what you stand for, understanding the impact of different experiences on your customers, and knowing what great looks like are just as fundamental for your CX journey.
Driving the right improvements, and tackling where you can let yourself down, are key examples of the knowledge to be gained through CX.
6. Happiness is creating really good friends.
Every business has great stories that have the potential to become legends. Simply hearing these human narratives makes everyone realise just how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to connect emotionally with so many people.
(And if they don’t have the potential to feel that joy, they should probably not be working in a service-orientated culture, so it may be time to move on to find something they feel more authentic in pursuing).
Cherish the stories where someone has gone out of their way to help another, and who has built personal connections that typically resonate when shared. Reward the colleagues who do this really well (not just on sales).
Communicate the lessons learnt, but keep replenishing the stock of stories to avoid them becoming stale—and to allow others to take advantage of their wisdom through action libraries accessible to all.
But also tell your customers that they really make a difference, how you recognise their contribution, and that you take care of their time. Build your community or tribe through these connections, and look after them.
7. Happiness is actively expressing your thanks.
Finally, make sure you always express your gratitude. This may be demonstrated through providing an attractive incentive, or sharing and responding to their views through social review sites.
At its heart, however, being thankful is best expressed through really taking the time to listen to your customers, and delivering the sometimes-subtle changes that they want to see in your brand to keep your brand’s journey in line with your customer goals.