Happy New Year!

A new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start and big ideas. Unfortunately, most of us struggle to maintain the momentum past the first fortnight. We take on too much, and when the ‘busy-ness’ of the year takes hold, the opportunity for positive change is lost.

For many businesses, improving customer experience is a high priority, but it can seem hard to start once the year cranks up. In 2016, Forrester reported that over 70% of businesses named ‘improving the customer experience’ as their top priority.

If improving customer experience is on your list for 2018, here are 3 simple and practical tips to kick-start the conversation in your organisation.

1.   Get out there!

Before your diary fills up, commit to spending time interacting with customers. Placing yourself in the spaces your customers occupy for just 15 minutes a day will help you reconnect you with their world, and spark your curiosity about their experience.

For example, why not have your morning coffee outside your nearest branch and watch the customers come and go? Or find a hot desk in the contact centre to check your emails? Or just spend time in the corridors of your organisation?

While you’re there, observe what customers are doing. Where do they go when they arrive? When do they wait? What emotions are on display? What surprises you? What is interesting?

The more you get out there, the more your eyes will open to what’s really happening for customers in your business.

2.   Share stories

Once you spend time with customers, you’re guaranteed to see and hear things that are worth sharing. Stories can be short observations that spark curiosity, or deeper insights that challenge and inspire your team.

Try injecting a short customer story into conversations, meetings and presentations. This shows your team and peers that you’re truly interested in the customer experience, and that there are some interesting things happening in the customer space. Simple stories can spark great discussions about why something occurs, and build further curiosity.

Over time, your stories will evolve from snapshots, good or bad, to the point where you find yourself asking more about the end-to-end experience. You and others will start asking, what else can we learn from watching customer interactions?

Stories are a natural part of business. This is your chance to flavour those stories with a healthy dose of customer!

3.   Encourage others

Encourage others to do the same! If everyone in your organisation is encouraged to connect with customers and share stories, the quest to improve customer experience becomes infectious.

Encouragement can start informally. Take a colleague with you when you observe customers, or ask people what they’ve observed customers doing recently. A more formal approach might involve assigning team members the task of connecting with customers and reporting back to the team. Or you could add the sharing of customer stories to the start of each meeting.

Over time, you’ll find that customer connection becomes a part of your culture, and no longer requires specific encouragement to occur. And if everyone is sharing their stories customers will inevitably become a greater focus of the organisation.

Getting out there, sharing stories, and encouraging others are 3 simple ways to enhance the customer conversation in your organisation. If you can make a fresh start in these areas, you’ll find that your big plans to improve the customer experience are suddenly well within your grasp!