The third season of the hit series The Voice just ended this week, and I've been sitting on a blog post for my "Customer Experience Lessons... " series since the previous season. For obvious reasons. I started to create my own TV series about The Voice (of the Customer) for the post; that didn't quite work but isn't dead yet! I've rewritten the post three times! Here's what I've ended up with.
There are three key constituents of the show: (1) coaches/mentors, (2) artists, and (3) the audience. Each one plays an important part in the show.
In your business, there are many stakeholders, but the three key constituents of the customer experience are (1) employees, (2) customers, and (3) leadership/executives. You could make the connection that the coaches/mentors are the leadership or management team, setting the example for the rest of the organization, driving the customer focus and culture; the employees are your artists; and your customers are your audience.
In the early stages of the show, the coaches each choose the artists that will be a part of their teams. Once the teams are set, they coach and mentor their team members, giving them advice and sharing best practices and secrets to success.
Coaching is critical to the growth of your employees, as well to their alignment with the customer-centric focus. Role playing, sharing your expertise, providing feedback, offering opportunities for career development, and recognizing a job well done are all part of coaching. In addition, creating a relationship of mutual trust, showing employees that you stand behind them, and expressing your commitment to their success will improve the employee experience, which, in turn, yields a much better customer experience.
The artists spent a lot of time doing their homework, learning their songs, and practicing in preparation for the show every week.
Your employees must and will do the same. Don't assume that they know how to deliver great service, especially to your company's standards. Assume that you need to clearly spell out for them your expectations on how they will interact with your customers and then train them on those expectations. Employees should constantly be learning about your products and services and updating their skills in general, as well, evolving and growing with the business.
While only one person wins The Voice, the artists are split up into teams. Each individual on a team forms a close bond with the other members of their team over the course of their time on the show, as well as with their team leader, their coach.
The same is true for your employees. They are part of a team, whether its their individual departments or the company as a whole. A team collaborates and works together toward a common goal.
Every artist on The Voice has an interesting life story, whether it's a personal tragedy or just an awesome lifelong dream to become the next big pop star. The backstory is part of what creates that connection for the audience with the artists.
In the customer experience world, there are two types of backstories:
- The Customer's Story. Every customer is unique. You can't meet their needs until you understand who they are and what their needs are.
- The Company's Story. Your company's story is its history, its purpose, its reason for being. Everyone, both customers and employees, need to understand the company's story.
As with the artists, these backstories form the foundation for the connection between the customer and the brand.
The show itself is obviously a competition. Artists compete with other artists, but they also compete against themselves, striving to always do better than the previous performance. Coaches and the audience remember.
Customers have choices. Customers remember. Don't dwell on what your competition is doing; instead, dwell on what you're doing.
The Voice is all about the performance, about artists giving their best performances every time they're on stage.
Your customer experience is only as good as your weakest link, right? Make sure every link, every touchpoint, is delivering a perfect 10 performance. Just like in The Voice competition, consistency is only important once you're performing at your absolute best, better than everyone else. Once you reach that level, the experience your customers have with your organization must consistently exceed their expectations.
The artists were missing their families and friends, but they needed to remain focused on the task at hand.
For your business, that focus needs to be on delivering the best customer experience possible. End of story.
Every single competitor had a goal: to win The Voice. They had dreams of being the next big thing. Many overcame obstacles to be there, to stay true to their dreams, and to achieve their goals.
The goal of a customer-centric organization is to not only meet but to exceed customers' expectations. Turning customers into raving fans is the ultimate goal. Make sure employees are in alignment; to do so, fall on your brand promise. As I wrote previously: "The brand promise aligns all of the activities of the organisation; that promise guides people, processes, products, systems, etc. Everything you do must support and reinformce the brand promise: every product, every person, every interaction, every touchpoint, all of it. Every time."
An important component of a music competition is listening, i.e., for the coaches and the audience alike. Coaches are typically listening for pitch, tone, runs, etc., while audience members are listening for great-sounding voices and songs that make them feel something.
You cannot have a customer-centric culture without listening to your customers. Or without really hearing what they are saying.
The Voice contestants were constantly receiving feedback about their performances from their coaches and from others around them.
As an organization, you should be encouraging and receiving feedback from your customers. As an employee, you should be receiving feedback from your mentor/manager and from your customers.
The name of the show is, obviously, The Voice. Ultimately, the coaches and the audience are looking for the winning voice, the best-sounding artist from all the choices they have. The coaches' initial votes are truly about the individual voices, as they have their backs turned to the contestants and cannot see them. They hit their buttons to weigh in, to select an artist for their teams. Artists have a choice, if multiple coaches hit their buttons.
Your customers have a choice. Actually, they have lots of choices. They don't have a button, but they get to weigh in. They get to vote with their wallets.
Your customers have a voice. Bring that voice into all aspects of the organization, to every touchpoint. Make sure it's heard. And acted upon.
The artists who make it into the top 10 have quite the journey - behind them and ahead of them. The journey behind them is much shorter than what lies ahead. Even if they didn't win the show, they have built a fan base over the weeks and months that will stay with them well into the future. Those artists in the top 5 - 10 will do well and have great careers ahead of them.
The customer experience is a journey, as well. And just like the artists, your company's journey behind is much shorter than what lies ahead. What lies ahead is a lot of hard work and focus, a lot of learning and improving, a lot of adapting, a lot of communicating and sharing. It's never-ending. It's not an easy road, but those that stay the course find that the reward far outweighs the effort to get there.
/When people talk about successful retailers and those that are not so successful, the customer determines at the end of the day who is successful and for what reason. -Jerry Harvey