Standardization improves Customer Experience
Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC
Standardization Improves Customer Experience
A common conversation thread that I hear when speaking with other entrepreneurs is a desire to have customer experience be a differentiator for their organization. I say desire with intention here, as although it is nearly universal for leaders to WANT to have a great customer experience, when we’ve dug deep into the topic there are usually some gaps, holes, and misalignments with that goal. One of the most common gaps I’ve found is a lack of standardization – which never fails to pique my curiosity, as I’ve found it is one of the easiest, surefire ways to help improve the customer’s experience working with your team. That’s right – standardization improves customer experience.
Standardization & Customer Experience Defined
As with most items, I find it useful to make sure everyone is playing on the same page, with the same set of vernaculars, before diving into a strategy, tactic, or concept. A couple of definitions are appropriate to ensure that we’re all moving forward with the same understanding.
Customer Experience, for the purposes of this article, is how a customer “feels” when they interact with your organization. This includes during the sales and marketing process, up through and including “the sale”, as well as post sale during handoff, onboarding, and routine service by your company. If you’re a product-based organization, this would include the delivery and set up of the product.
I find that questions asked internally can help define this for an organization – some of the most useful ones I’ve found are:
- What does it feel like to call your customer service line?
- What resources are available to your customers on demand about your products/services?
- What does the customer experience post sale?
- What communication cadence is followed to make sure the customer is delighted with your organization?
- What happens when something goes wrong? How does your organization make sure the customer is made whole and is satisfied with your solution to their problem?
Standardization we can define as utilizing a set of normal, preconfigured, interchangeable tools, products, processes, procedures, and deliverables. A standard has a few parts, which I’ve listed below:
- The standard is documented – it is written down, accessible to all those who would require it.
- The standard is adhered to as a matter of course. The standard is followed, and exceptions to the standard have special attention by the responsible teams.
- The standard has infrastructure, processes, and procedures developed to support it’s use.
- The standard is reviewed on a cadence and updated when deemed appropriate.
When properly implemented, the standard reduces the complexity of a product or service by making some or all of it “cookier cutter” and easier to implement for your team.
How does Standardization impact Customer Experience?
Now that we have our terms defined, how does standardization impact customer experience? The answer is one of those “not so obvious” solutions to an obvious problem.
Standards, with the appropriate help from your marketing team, help set and meet customer expectations.
Let’s dive into that statement for a moment. By documenting your standards, you can properly set an expectation for your customers about what they will experience around the relevant topic, product, or service from your organization. For Example – an I.T. services company might have a standard that states “No Computers over 36 months of age will be serviced or supported under contract.”
This simple sentence sets a clear expectation: Any computer older than 36 months will not be covered under the service agreement.
But there’s more to customer experience than expectations – the above statement certainly won’t make a customer “feel good” about your organization – in fact, it might make them angry.
A good standard not only sets the expectations, but with the help of good marketing, will show the value of the standard to the customer.
At first glance, its difficult to see how this standard can improve customer experience. However – look at the same sentence from this angle: “To maximize your I.T. environment’s stability, minimize the risk of costly unplanned business outages, and to minimize the risk of cyber security incidents – No computers over 36 months of age will be services or supported under your contract. Our team will meet with you according to our Device Management cadence (see attached reference material) to develop a comprehensive plan for your organization to ensure that all computers are replaced before they pass 36 months of age. “
Same standard – same concept, but properly presented, this sets the expectation of your customer around computer age and supportability, but also presents the benefits to them in terms of how it benefits their organization.
Standards are difficult – they take an investment of time and treasure to get set up correctly and require careful management and adherence to gain benefits for your organization. Marketing the standard is a must to have them come off as a benefit rather than a constraint for your customers. However, if you take the time to both develop the standard as well as focus on messaging around it, you might find that your customer’s have less frustrations around your organization because expectations are being met, set, and embraced. Using standards can improve your customer experience.
If you’re struggling to develop standards, getting your team to adhere to them, or helping your customers understand why they’re a win/win experience, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
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