Benefits of a Customer Champion
When implementing a customer focus strategy one of the greatest challenges is to evolve ownership away from the Boardroom and into operational areas of the business. Our experience has shown that the most effective way of doing this is to identify a team of individuals who can represent the customers and the customer experience in internal discussions. We refer to these people as Customer Champions. They are responsible for, and empowered to, convert customer feedback into actionable data, ensuring the company allocates required resources, that appropriate actions are developed and deployed, and that finally all stages are effectively communicated to improve the overall customer experience and levels of customer loyalty .In effect what they want is the “voice of the customer” to be continuously heard within the company, and this can only be done through someone “Championing their cause”, “fighting their corner” or “thinking as a customer” – a Customer Champion.
What is a Customer Champion?
The role of the Customer Champion (sometimes known as a Consumer Champion) has to be more than acting as a conduit for the customer. They have to ensure that change is meaningful, impactful, and long term. If the role is simply to develop some customer focused messages around the organisation such as placing notices above the door reading “think of yourself as a customer”, or printing on payslips “only the customer can make this happen”, it is not enough. Touches like this have a role to play as part of an overall strategy, but without the strategy being embedded in the company, they quickly become just background noise that don’t give the required outcome of an organisation of customer-focused employees working towards improving the customer experience and increasing customer loyalty. They have to be Customer Service winners – genuinely customer-focused employees focussed on and empowered to improve the customer experience at every stage. “Think of yourself as a customer” is the only the starting point of successful implementation.
The importance of the Customer Champion or Consumer Champion as the voice of the customer
For many years there has been an acceptance of the need for top management to provide support for any customer focus strategy in order for it to be successfully implemented. There has however been less recognition for there to be a Customer / Consumer Champion, or team of Customer / Consumer Champions, to ensure that senior management commit to results in an enterprise-wide action plan. The Customer Champion not only has to act as the Voice of the Customer within the company, but has to have authority to work across the organisation, to ensure that the Customer’s Voice is not only listened to, but understood and acted upon. In short, they must have the power to bring the concept of “think of yourself as a customer” alive.
Our definition of a Customer Champion
Perhaps the best way to describe the role of a Customer Champion is to define their characteristics and the benefits they will bring to both the company, and vitally the customer.
|Characteristics||Benefits to the Company||Benefit to the Customer|
|Excellent communicator to all levels both internally and externally||
|Creative / Innovative problem solving including
identifying additional sources of customer feedback
||Increases the probability of an effective solution to improve the customer experience and increased customer loyalty|
|Motivator||Supports each team to deliver, particularly when there are a lack of “quick wins”||Results and therefore improvements will be delivered faster|
|Attention to detail||Maximises the value of the data by identifying the nuggets, and ensures that the corrective actions developed will actually deliver what the customer needs||Reduces the need to have to deliver the same message several times|
|Strong organisational and interpretation skills.||Facilitates cross functional working in order to provide effective solutions||Supports the company in being focused on the customer journey and not internal functions leading to faster resolution|
|Understand and develop processes||Links customer data to both process metrics and KPIs thereby supporting effective management||With corporate KPIs aligned with customer needs a much greater partnership will be formed.|
|Team player, but also a leader (Champion)||Drives necessary changes through and ensures everyone’s role is clear, effective and rewarding||Results and therefore improvements will be delivered faster|
|Good negotiator – functions may have already developed internal metrics that need amending.||Ensures all metrics are customer focused and linked. Allowing “management by fact”||Results and therefore improvements will be delivered faster|
|Flexible and willing to learn||Brings new approaches to enhance the programme and provides the ability to benchmark against others||Constantly raises the standard of customer service and the customer experience, leading to increased customer loyalty|
All of these characteristics have been present in successful teams that we have been involved with. However, the balance between them will obviously vary between companies and across markets, but a combination of the above should ensure an increased chance that a company is likely to deliver its promise of improved customer service, a better customer experience and improved customer loyalty.
In conclusion, as companies increasingly state a desire to be customer focused, the customer is increasingly being asked to provide feedback. The company that will get the best customer feedback is the one that is seen by the customer as listening, acting upon it, and this is demonstrated most clearly by communicating back. Essentially it is being seen as valuing the customer’s input, showing a genuine interest in the customer experience and using that knowledge to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty – the vital role of the Customer Champion.
The combination of these factors will lead to an improved customer experience which will build customer loyalty, which in turn will deliver improved commercial performance, which ultimately was the goal of a customer focused strategy.
Take the next step
To discuss how to develop a Customer Champion with your organisation, please contact Customer Champions today.