So, you want to deliver a world-class customer experience…

October 2018

Most service organisations want to build a reputation for delivering a world-class customer experience. And yet, we see so few examples of consistently exceptional service.


The holy grail for any service organisation is to be renowned for delivering an exceptional customer experience. In doing so, we can expect to see high customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased revenue, and happier, more engaged employees. However, when we think about who gets it right, there aren’t too many real-world examples to take inspiration from.

What are the reasons for this? After 30+ years working with Australia’s biggest, best and most ambitious customer-facing organisations, we’ve observed some common threads in what separates good from great. Here we map out the three most common pitfalls when it comes to aiming for a world-class customer experience.


Getting the interaction framework wrong

We often see organisations interpret their customer experience strategy into very lofty, abstract value statements that do little to provide clarity for the customer-facing team and their leaders. While the intent is always admirable (‘connect with the customer’, ‘show the customer you care’, ‘demonstrate curiosity’), organisations who rely on these types of interaction frameworks aren’t setting their people up for success. Consider how a team leader would coach their people to bring the interaction framework to life, without insight into exactly how to do so. How might they set goals for improvement? How much variance would there be amongst teams and across regions? And how would this translate to the customer experience? You guessed correctly – there’d be very little control over improving the customer experience, and even less consistency.


The key lies in defining the observable, assessable micro-behaviours that underpin your objectives. So, take the example of ‘connect with the customer’: based on our behavioural analytics research we know that customers respond well to genuine attempts to build rapport. In fact, we see strong correlations between successful sales outcomes and demonstrating three key micro-behaviours that would sit under ‘connect with the customer’:

  • Proactively engage upfront
  • Empathise/enthuse with the customer’s situation
  • Respond to the customer’s displayed emotion

When we break down an objective into well-defined micro-behaviours we end up with a very coachable framework that gives leaders and their people behavioural-level insight into how to bring the organisation’s customer experience strategy to fruition. Or, put simply, clarity on which inputs they need to demonstrate to drive the required outputs. Being armed with this knowledge is incredibly empowering for both the front line and their leaders who become much more in control of the results they achieve.


Focusing on style over substance

Another common pitfall happens when organisations focus on elements outside the customer-facing team’s control (the systems, physical space, product, technology) and fail to get the basics right (the customer conversation). In the retail space, for instance, we’ve seen some beautifully designed stores and creative integrations of technology, and yet the customer-facing team are left guessing how they should work in these spaces or interact with the systems.


57% of Australian-based customers say they’d pay 10% more for better service, but we’d hazard a guess that customers wouldn’t be willing to pay a premium for ‘better furniture’. We’ve trawled through reams of NPS and CSAT verbatims and the moments that wow customers are almost always delivered by a person rather than a system, space or novelty.


Failing to embed the interaction framework

Suppose you do end up with a well-designed customer interaction framework, one that’s grounded in the latest consumer psychology research and that gives your people clarity into exactly how to be successful in their roles. It turns out that designing such a framework is the easy part. The real work comes in embedding it across a large network so that your hundreds or thousands of customer-facing people are delivering a consistently high-quality customer experience, every day.

The ability to embed the framework to deliver a world-class experience is the real kicker. Of course if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and we wouldn’t see results like this, which show that on average, Australian-based customers are delivered a lack-lustre experience.

Between January and June this year, a team of GRIST ‘customers’ made over 2000 phone sales enquiries to Australian companies – across 10 industries/product families and 78 contact centres. GRIST analysts assessed these 2000+ sales conversations against a framework of 60+ good practice sales behaviours.

The research reveals that as a customer you’re most likely to speak to someone who’ll provide you a fairly ordinary experience (that is, one that scores less than 53%). The overall scores are the weighted average of whether or not the 60+ micro-behaviours have been demonstrated and are weighted according to how closely they correlate with a successful sales and customer outcome. Of the 78 companies we analysed, just four scored above 53%. We can expect these companies to have very good conversion rates, while the companies that sit at the other end of the scale wouldn’t have as good a strike rate.


GRIST’s behavioural analytics and consulting services help translate strategy into an impactful, coachable frameworks that – most crucially – become embedded into the DNA of your organisation. Get in touch to find out about how we can help you design and deliver research-backed customer interaction models that will delight your customers, day in, day out.

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