Customer behavior is changing. Expectations are higher. There’s tension between customers and the brands they do business with. The willingness to leave one brand to do business with another has never been higher.
Lance Gruner, Executive Vice President of Global Customer Care at MasterCard, was one of the keynote speakers at CCW (Contact Center Week), the industry’s largest conference and tradeshow of its kind. More than 3,000 attendees listened to Gruner share lessons he learned while running customer service teams worldwide for one of the most recognized brands in the world.
Gruner started with a story about lost luggage during a recent trip to Ireland. The airline eventually found it, but it wasn’t an easy experience and seemed to take more effort than necessary. Even though his luggage was eventually returned to him, Gruner realized there was a bigger issue, which was how the incident was handled. His point was something most companies and brands are guilty of. They may fix the customer’s problem, but there is a more significant issue. In Gruner’s words, “We must focus on the root and not the symptom.”
In this example, the symptom is the lost luggage, and the root is how employees handle the customer.
Whether they know it or not, what customers want isn’t that complicated. They want to trust that brands will do what they promise. If by chance, things aren’t working out the way they should, they want to trust that a brand will have their back and fix what needs to be fixed. Sounds simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy.
Gruner shared how MasterCard does this. Eighty-four percent of MasterCard’s customers are delighted with their experience. “We still have a ways to go,” admits Gruner. He shared three things MasterCard is doing to drive that improvement.
- Focus on customers, and specifically, the effort customers go through to do business with you.Just ask the question, “Are we making it easy for our customers?” High customer satisfaction marks—and loyalty—happen when a brand can meet customers where they are. Being available on the phone and digital platforms, such as chat, text, social media and other channels, is important to giving customers an easy experience.
- Use technology and data to support this effort. Data is powerful when used the right way. Data gives you customer insights that help identify trends. Used correctly, you not only meet the customer’s current needs, you can also predict what they will want and expect in the future. Knowing where customers are going before they do is a powerful way to build trust and loyalty. So, leverage data. Don’t just collect it. Study it and use it to create a better CX.
- Focus on employees. Gruner knows there are employee issues. What is known as the Great Resignation started long before the pandemic, but it has accelerated. In addition to Baby Boomers and Gen-X taking retirement, employees are evaluating their lifestyles. Their wellbeing is paramount to their happiness at a company. Gruner emphasizes the importance of focusing on “our people.” Just as customers must believe in the brand, so must employees. He smiled when he said that 95% of MasterCard employees are proud to be part of the brand. They understand that work is more than just a job to some. They want to be part of something bigger. Gruner says, “We are doing well by doing good.” MasterCard is focused on a workforce that is inclusive and diverse. It believes in sustainability and giving back to the community. Employees appreciate and embrace this effort.
Pay close attention to lesson No. 3. Circling back to Gruner’s comment about the root versus the symptom, employees are the root. They have great control over the outcome of a customer’s problem. When employees are properly trained and appreciated for making good decisions, customer experience magic happens. How employees feel about their jobs and how customers feel about the company go hand-in-hand. What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by the customer. If you want your customers to be happy, start looking inside your company. It has never been more important to focus on employees as part of your customer service and CX strategy.