A lot of the conversation about increasing customer satisfaction, in the retail sector or anywhere else, revolves around technology. Omnichannel strategies for multi-touch messaging. Automation to increase efficiency. Integrated platforms to bridge the online and in-store experience. The more powerful, connected and “smart” your tech stack is, the better your customers’ experience is said to be.
Of course, a savvy technology strategy absolutely does contribute to customer satisfaction; we’re so sure that digital tools improve customer satisfaction that it’s one of our company’s brand values. Indeed, 94% of firms say their CRO initiatives have increased customer satisfaction, according to our recent commissioned study by Forrester Consulting.
Clearly, technology and process play a huge role in maintaining happy customers. But it isn’t the only thing that matters. If the human element of your tech stack isn’t optimized — in other words, if your employees aren’t happy — it doesn’t matter how powerful your algorithms are or how omnichannel your approach is. You won’t be able to provide top notch customer satisfaction.
Customer Satisfaction Starts With Employee Satisfaction
If we didn’t maintain an attractive working environment for our employees, they could easily go elsewhere — such is the nature of young tech companies. Indeed, recent data collected by LinkedIn shows the short employee lifespan — sometimes as short as two years — for up-and-coming software companies in Silicon Valley. Keeping our employees happy, motivated and always wanting to learn more means our customers — and by extension, their customers — continue to have more satisfying experiences.
Test And Learn
The idea of “test and learn,” and continuous optimization, means finding the perfect balance between pushing yourself to always do better and knowing it’s okay to sometimes fail. Employees need to feel like they’re in a secure enough environment to take risks, especially in highly competitive sectors. After all, this is how evolution works in the natural world; species evolve from mutations — mistakes in the genome! — that lead to new creations that ultimately withstand the test of time.
Creativity, a key component of any innovative company, operates in much the same way. Whether your company has a “test and learn” approach written into its culture or not, it’s vital to allow employees enough breathing room, and provide them with enough support, to allow creativity to happen.
Make sure this zeitgeist is reflected in promotion decisions and hiring policy; screen for candidates that don’t fit this mindset, especially for management roles. Encourage risk, and crucially, “post-mortem” evaluations in a one-to-one setting. If it didn’t work, why? What could we do differently next time? What did we learn, and how can we apply these principles elsewhere?
Retailers know the woes of having to localize products and messaging while still needing to retain a global brand image. The same struggles come up when it comes to maintaining an international company culture across multiple continents. How do you juggle language barriers, cultural differences and changes in time zones? In other words, how do you maintain team spirit (another one of our brand values) internationally?
Part of it has to do with thinking local — and by this, I mean hiring local talent native to the target market. Indeed, this will contribute to client satisfaction, whatever your sector. Nothing is more frustrating than reading a web site that has been poorly translated, or never being able to get hold of a client representative because they aren’t in your time zone. Local talent will help you bridge the gap and allow your customers to feel they’re being understood and catered to.
At the same time, you need to think “global.” A big issue companies scaling up internationally face is the communication headaches involved in collaborating globally. Every branch, outpost and office needs to feel part of the “global” structure, whether that means being included in emails, internal communications in a language they understand and team building exercises. While this might seem trivial, it has a huge impact on employee satisfaction..
All in all, the beauty of using your brand values to support a positive company culture is that you create a virtuous circle; you practice what you preach. Employees feel their experience at work is a true embodiment of the brand, which in turn encourages positive (direct or indirect) interactions with clients. Customer-facing employees become brand spokespeople, and if they feel the brand has been good to them, most will naturally reciprocate by creating a positive experience between the brand and the client. Happy customers really do start with happy employees.
Along with co-founder Rémi Aubert, Alix de Sagazan founded the conversion rate optimization platform AB Tasty in 2011. Under her leadership, the company has experienced 70% year-over-year growth, been awarded 4th place in the 2017 ‘Great Place to Work – France’ awards, and has been nominated as a finalist in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Great Employers. De Sagazan is a member of the tech think tank “The Galion Project,” and is one of Europe’s most recognized ‘women in tech’ leaders.