This article proposes that a culture of fear and compliance are poor tools for delivering a great Customer Experience.
In the markets where I work most often, compliance still rules in Customer interactions.
Say this, wear that – act like this, act like that.
One of my students – who had worked as a concierge in a high-end Singapore shopping centre – told us that every morning their boss would line them up and critique all aspects of their grooming.
He told us the experience was a fearful one – and Team Members would begin their shift with a nagging unpleasant feeling.
Another student shared that they had been instructed to say, “Will you allow me to put you on hold?” vs. “May I put you on hold?”
It was never made clear why this use of language was so important to the Customer experience.
But there was a team of eagle-eared Quality Assurance analysts who fixated on language use and tidings of woe to the Team Member who in some way mixed up the verbiage.
Sure, compliance has its place – but not when it takes on Darth Vader-like proportions
Recently I had a meeting with a high-end hospitality company.
The course under discussion was how to help Team Members better interact with high-end VIP Guests through conversational engagement.
The challenge was that Team Members were either silent, monosyllabic or overly formal in the presence of ‘high rollers’.
The position I took was that in order to create a better Customer experience for these Guests, it was going to be necessary to back-off a bit on the compliance – and by association the culture of fear.
Perhaps it was time to allow for greater flexibility.
The whole room went silent.
You would have thought I had just ordered a double bacon cheeseburger in a vegetarian restaurant.
All eyes turned to the Senior in the room.
After a long pause, the Senior intoned that compliance was the most important aspect of their Service delivery and with that, I knew the conversation was over.
A culture of fear had shown itself.
I worry that to this day, these folks would rather look at their shoes than engage conversationally with a Guest.
Branding & the Customer experience
It is completely understandable that an organization would aim to live its brand promise.
The right opening, the right phrases, the right ‘look’ all matter.
They have their place in overall quality initiatives.
The problem comes in when these behaviors – and discussion around these behaviors – crowd out discussion about what’s really important.
It is well understood that what matters most in CX delivery is the Customer’s perception or ‘feeling’ about what they went through.
Clearly no Customer is going to get all excited about your greeting – or the fact that your Staff’s socks matched the color of their shoes.
When it comes to compliance, there’s very little opportunity to differentiate the experience.
But if you really consider your brand promises – either explicit or implicit – along with your values, mission, vision and the like – there’s a lot of rich context to develop powerful CX standards for conversation.
The moment the Team begins to ask themselves – ‘What can we do to exceed the Customer’s emotional expectations’ for this kind of visit, call, email, live chat and so on’ – well that’s where the magic lives.
Thanks for reading!