By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services at Heinz Marketing

Your employees are essential to your customer’s experience with your brand. While marketing efforts may be the doorway into your organization, your frontline employees are the living room. Long term, sustainable hospitality within the “living room” of your brand is the lifeblood of customer retention and referrals. It can’t be faked or haphazard! It has to be intentional and genuine.

But “customer experience” is a squishy term and can mean different things to different people, which is why it’s important for organizations to be clear and specific about what success looks like. Three things to keep in mind:

  1. Have a customer service strategy in place and bake it into the DNA of your company culture.
  2. Set tangible objectives around customer experience that are actionable and measurable.
  3. Provide thorough training in customer experience that is pragmatic and connects actions to outcomes.

Following are some best practices that we at Heinz Marketing think about in the relationship between our employees and our customers. If you find this helpful, use it as a framework for building a customer-centric culture within your own team.

  • Set tangible objectives and regular reporting cycles. Establish a framework for how customers journey through your brand using metrics that can be measured and reported. Examples can be found here.
  • Live and breathe your customer’s experience. Every memo, email, and decision should center around your customer’s expectations. Help employees tangibly see how they’re connected to your customers through an org chart or a job description. If they can envision their place in the customer journey, they’ll be more engaged in it.
  • Coach your employees into stronger hospitality habits. When you have positive feedback for your employees, connect it to the customer’s journey and encourage more of the same. When you have improvement feedback for your employees, be specific, provide alternative actions, and connect it to providing a better experience for the customer.
  • When in doubt, tell a story. Nothing impacts team morale like a hearing a good success story! This is particularly important for employees who work behind the scenes and don’t have the privilege of direct contact with customers. Being reminded of the real people who are impacted by their hard work reminds them why they love doing what they do, and keeps them motivated during challenging days.

Establishing a strong customer experience culture begins with connecting your employees to their place in the customer journey, defining the metrics and objectives, and supporting your employees through coaching and training.

Now it’s your turn: Where do you see the greatest opportunity for improving your customer experience culture? Share your hunch in the comments!