Usually, it’s employees lower in the hierarchy, those with less expertise or finesse, that (ironically) have the most direct contact with your customers. They are your vendors, waiters, flight attendants, customer service agents, technical support, etc. Without realizing it, we have put in their hands the most important aspect of our business: The customer experience. Customer experience has finally been recognized over the last decade and we need to give it the same importance we give to our brand, or even greater.
Here is the incongruity. Companies invest more in developing a brand promise and in building a positive public perception around this promise, than in selecting, training and compensating those who are directly responsible for delivering that promise to our client or end user. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s perfectly clear to me that many business models could not survive without this incongruity. But what I mean is that these business models — in which the front line of attention and service is manned by badly selected, badly trained and badly paid employees — they have no future.
Before we lived in a hyper-connected world, most businesses managed to get away with this strategy. But today, this hyperconnectivity makes this incongruity obvious with every mediocre or unpleasant interaction that our customers have with our brand.
This is the reason why we have lost confidence in brands and put it in the hands of people: of experts, influencers and friends. Today, whenever we live through this conflict, we communicate it immediately through social networks. We need to rethink our priorities and turn this outdated model upside down, to make our employees ambassadors and architects of the customer experience.
The advantage is that what would have been a titanic task, impossible to finance, is easier today thanks to this very hyperconnectivity. It is now easier and cheaper to go beyond the generic training programs, irrelevant online courses that nobody cares about. On-demand platforms allow us to rethink learning and development as always-on spaces for training and support. We can offer modular training on each topic as it becomes relevant, and link it directly to how each employee can deliver our value proposition to our customers in each interaction.
Learning and development needs to move from generic to specific, and from sporadic to ubiquitous, to ensure that the front lines of attention and service is made up of ambassadors who ensure that our brand promise is fulfilled at every point of interaction.