Today’s customer has a plethora of data at their fingertips, creating increasingly informed consumers capable of researching and comparing your products or services against the competition with a few clicks. What’s the greatest way to differentiate your business from the competition then? Simply put, the customer experience you deliver your customers. Of course, this means your understanding of the reality of that experience becomes imperative. Let’s jump ahead, though, and say through proper measurement and the right customer experience solutions you’ve got a clear picture of your customer experience and know where you’re doing well and falling short. What now?
This is the stage of the process where many businesses experience dramatic discord between the big picture of their customer experience and how to actually implement the changes needed to move that customer experience dial in the right direction. Why? There’s a natural disconnect between the C-Suite’s macro-view and the frontline managers and employees’ micro-actions. It’s like a game of telephone. The C-Suite designs and architects operations and procedures, the frontline performs them. In the middle lies implementation and that’s exactly where coaching will make or break your customer experience.
Training is the initial instruction and preparation you give employees at the start of their employment. Coaching, however, is the ongoing instruction and feedback you give your employees. The key word here is ongoing. Your coaching program needs to be continual for your customer experience and, in turn, your business’ bottom line to reap the rewards. First, let’s look at one example that really lets you see that coaching works.
Industrial supplier, Grainger, introduced its Leader as Coach program way back in 2009 in order to put leader-led development into real practice. The program, consisting of five progressive modules, effectively transformed leaders into coaches by focusing on interpersonal communications, teamwork and coaching for performance. As a result, 89% of participant respondents said they could apply their training knowledge within a month. Moreover, Grainger is at $233 per share at the time of this publication. In 2009? They were at $72 per share. Coaching and emphasizing its crucial importance in your business model works.
Why Ongoing Coaching?
Grainger saw success with its coaching initiative, because the focus was on making coaching an integrated, natural part of their model. The annual review philosophy is ancient history. Sure, it’s great to meet once a year and look at large-scale goals with an employee, but how does that help both managers and employees focus on the everyday goals? The goals that actually make the difference in your customers’ experience, especially when a lot of that experience is based on interactions with frontline staff.
It’s continuous improvement, continuous coaching, continuous feedback that gets you results. Communications between managers and employees are strengthened by keeping the coaching conversation open, while opportunities for improvement are consistently identified and praise for a job well done keeps things positive and employees feeling appreciated.
By keeping ongoing coaching central to your business, your team becomes a team and a productive, efficient, quality team at that. Employees are empowered through the motivation and initiative this type of coaching emphasizes and there’s a natural reduction in employee turnover. Finally, coaching effectively helps you and your leaders identify employees ready to move up the ladder for the right reasons, not on simply an arbitrary metric like time of tenure.
Documenting your coaching is the other factor to your success beyond just making sure your coaching is consistent and constant. By ensuring your coaching is documented, you ensure managers and employees have a plan for improvement and increase accountability. This is also one of the areas where the disconnect between the C-Suite and the frontline can be mended – documentation lets the C-Suite know and advise on how coaching is progressing as well as pinpoint trends for overall improvement in a coaching program.
Your customer experience is everything. If you’re ready to improve customer loyalty, drive revenue and increase profit, your customer experience is truly the key. However, it’s coaching that will transform your customer experience.
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