The Customer Experience (which customer?)

Nowadays, customer experience to the final user has become so important,  that sometimes we tend to overlook our other customer: the internal. 

As a Human Resources (HR) professional, you should consider both as equally important.

Why? Because if you don’t align these two,  sooner or later – actually, sooner than later – things will probably break down.

Shep Hyken says that in order to deliver a great external customer experience, you need to start by delivering an excellent internal customer experience.

So, what would you answer to the question:

Do you know what are your internal customers biggest pains?

Be careful, because I am not asking you what you THINK are their biggest pains. I am asking you if you KNOW that information.  The question is tricky.

What you think is only an assumption. Sometimes, we assume that we know our internal customer so, we develop programs or strategies based on what we think they need or want. And that is risky.

Why? Because you could be delivering the wrong customer experience. Just like Marriot Hotels did once.

The Marriot Case

In his book «Change by Desing»,  Tim Brown mentions a great example about how Marriot Hotels learned how to deliver a proper customer experience the hard and long way.

Marriot had been putting so much effort (time & money) attempting to improve the «customer’s journey». However, things were not working as they expected.

After a deep research, Marriott realized that its customer experience strategy  was based on assumptions rather than observation. When truly studying what travelers really wanted, the hotelier was able to learn that a nice lobby and friendly greeting are fine, but the exhale moment – as in collapsing in the chair of one’s room and clicking on the TV – is what counts the most and therefore where improvements must be made.

Thanks to a misled strategy, based on assumptions about its customers, Marriot spend heavy twice:

  1. On a wrong customer experience strategy.
  2. On a way to fix it (hiring external consultants and refocusing the efforts)

I am sure that you – as me – want to avoid a Marriot case. The question is how?

Marriot learned the hard way. But you don’t need to. 

Ask to your internal customer!

Just start to make questions directly to your internal customers (the sooner, the better). That’s what Marriot did to refocus its customer experience strategy.

Embrace an internal customer – centric approach

Where I work we – at Human Resources – are gradually embracing this approach and it is gaining strength. We are aimed to really know our internal customer (as HR, we need to start by ourselves). So, we have started to reach out our trainers, facilitators, HR VPs, and our entire array of internal users to listen directly from them what they need and expect from us and from our strategies.

Let me tell you, at the beginning it feels like almost impossible to stop on your tracks to take the time and go to ask personally about their needs, fears, and opinions. It seems even harder when you have projects already running and with a tight deadline, but any day is a good day to start the habit. You just need to start and it will pay off.

Of course, you need to find your own way to efficiently ask the questions.

A tip: we started with a survey. Of course, I think the best way to get info is through a face-to-face approach, but a survey is an easy quick win in a company as large as the one I am part of. If its your case as well, consider a survey.

Just don’t forget to work your face-to-face approach. Try by paying quick visits to your internal customer from time to time. For us, thanks to the nature of our work as part of the corporative university team, we have the chance to be very close to our employees all around the world. And by close, I mean in the same room. That is a heck of an opportunity to start asking questions face to face and doing shadowing closer and more often.

Ask directly to your customer and after the proper curation and analysis you will have a clear and supported north to focus your efforts.

More important, you will be really walking the talk of the customer centric approach.

More good news?

Your internal customers will notice it! Meaning: they will be more eager to cooperate and participate of your efforts since they will feel – and be – now part of the solution.

It is a win-win situation.

So next time you are in a meeting with your team or your boss wondering what you can do to improve your int. customer experience, stop for a moment and ask these simple questions:

Do we really know that this is what they need?

Have we actually asked them about it?

Trust me, it will be powerful and you’ll help to build a strong and coherent experience for both, external and internal customers.

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Note: The process of what to do once you have all the info to get to a great solution is another story, but we will keep talking about this, don´t worry.