How Coaching for Small Improvements Yields Big CX Results with Ethan Andelman
In February 2022, hundreds of leaders from service businesses across the world gathered together online to take part in the Global Frontline Experience Summit, an event we are delighted to sponsor and host again after its hugely successful first run in 2020. It was a phenomenal event with a contagious heaping of inspiration, excitement and possibility for anyone working in the customer experience and frontline service space.
If you missed the summit, brought to you by our Frontline Magic Community don't worry! All of the sessions are available right here, and are just as powerful the second time around.
We've all got to start small, right? Think of the time you joined a little league baseball team, or when you first joined the cheerleading squad. Nobody expected you to hit a home run on your first game, or nail every pirouette in the air straight away. Like any sport, skill or interest, for Lendmark financials, big shifts started with small improvements. Going back to the basics, figuring out their customer’s non-negotiables and coaching and recognizing their frontline team on small improvements was the key to unlocking BIG customer experience results.
Ethan Andelman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Lendmark, a financial services company that has been serving the personal lending needs of customers underserved by traditional banks. Today, with over 1600 employees and 400 branches in 19 states, Lendmark continues to grow with superior, reliable and consistent financial services that help customers gain financial freedom. As a customer of AskNicely, Ethan’s presentation at the Global Frontline Experience Summit walks us through the impact that coaching for small improvements has on their employee experience, customer experience and their bottom line.
Getting Back to Basics
As a business that relies on superior customer experience, Ethan and his team needed to strip things back and understand three fundamental questions:
- What are our customers’ non negotiables?
- Are we who we say we are?
- How can we ensure frontline associates are delivering on our service promise every time?
“We've had an approach now, to really focus on the blocking and tackling of our business and distilling it down to its key important functions”
Lendmark used AskNicely to uncover answers to these questions through customer feedback, workflows, recognition, coaching, employee feedback and insights – which yielded big CX results.
Understanding Customer Needs - 20 Seconds of Magic
As a marketing executive, Ethan has found many times that the words “we should do a survey” can often result in a dozen expecting eyes on him. While surveys are an important tool for measuring customer service, Ethan knew they weren’t perfect. He points out that they can be expensive, reactive, and by the time the data reaches the right people, the results can be obsolete. To truly understand customer needs, he needed customer feedback in real-time. He also needed loan consultants (those dealing with the actual customer) to have instant access to these insights.
“I wanted to get real-time relationship-oriented feedback, not just transactional feedback.”
To understand what Lendmark customers cared about the most (their non-negotiables), they left clunky survey tools behind and opted for a system that made customer feedback accessible, streamlined and fun for both employees and customers.
“Working with AskNicely, Nick and their frontline product, we've found that you can get massive intel within 20 seconds of customer’s time”
Ever heard of the phrase “Data is the new oil”? Through a simple and fun feedback form based on the NPS framework, Lendmark was fueled with customer insights at scale, helping them uncover trends and learn more about their customers than they ever had before.
Ethan personally believes that providing employees with feedback is about putting the power in their hands. From this, employees can react better to results, know what they’re doing right (or wrong) and feel accountable and empowered to improve.
Are we who we say we are?
Lendmark boasts superior, reliable and consistent service to their customers. But did their promise match up to reality? To find out, Lenmark looked at large sets of customer feedback across multiple stages in the customer journey to uncover if they were truly walking the walk, or just talking the talk.
“What is our service differentiation? Can we work on that to be better and deliver who we say we want to be?”
Real-time customer feedback revealed Lendmark’s blind spots and brought to their attention the things they needed to do to improve the experience for their customers.
How can we be who we say we are?
The golden question?
“How do we know we’re executing on [our service promise] every time?”
The golden answer?
Coaching for small improvements.
To bridge the gap between Lendmark’s reality, and who Lendmark wanted to be, they needed to coach their team on small improvements. Instead of saying “here’s everything we need to do to exceed customer expectations, off you go, bye!”, they connected their loan consultants to real-time customer feedback, set up workflows to help their team respond to and act on feedback and celebrated and recognized their team for awesome work when it happened. With large sets of customer data, they were also able to identify the areas that their frontline perhaps needed further coaching and training on. It was all about daily behavioral changes rather than overwhelming performance reviews.
Small improvements lead to BIG outcomes
Using this approach, Lendmark have been able to:
- Understand and take action on customer feedback
It’s all well and good to collect customer feedback, but if workflows aren’t set up to act on that feedback, it’s not much use to anyone. Using AskNicely, loan consultants have instant access to feedback from their customers. They are making realizations and taking action based on what their customers are saying. “We re-learned how to listen to customers,” said one frontline associate.
- Create a stronger, more supportive workplace culture.
“Happy employees deliver better results”.
Lendmark employees are no longer left in the dark when it comes to delivering and measuring customer experiences. They are equipped with feedback, coaching, recognition and support that focuses on improving every day. Team members no longer just hear feedback when things go wrong, they’re caught and celebrated when they get things right.
“We need to get away from the big brother mentality and learn to celebrate the exceptionals instead of just managing the exceptions”
- Deliver superior customer experiences
Lendmark has a full view of the customer experience across their entire customer journey. They now have clear insights into what is impacting customer experience and what to do about it. With this data at their fingertips, they can easily spot trends before they become a problem.
- Improve the bottom line
What does this all mean? Improved employee experience = improved customer experience = increase in revenue. Don’t just take it from us, the latest research from Metrigy proves that businesses with strong frontline satisfaction programs saw a 25% increase in revenue improvement, 64% increase in employee efficiency improvement and a 73% increase in customer satisfaction improvement.
“I'm convinced we’re going to see the economic results that come along with a higher NPS score”
And fortunately for Lendmark, the numbers are going up, and up. Lendmark is on track to prove that NPS directly links to their company profitability, proving that focusing on employee experience is the key to customer loyalty and growth.
Plus, with advanced technology, the process can be simple, easy and user-friendly for everyone involved.
“We really didn't do anything other than put the app in the loan consultants and the branch’s manager’s hands”.
Don’t force it, investment takes time.
More than often, we all want quick results, either in the blink of an eye or in the snap of a finger. But wise words have been spoken in Ethan’s presentation, those being that investment takes time.
In a business, pilots are usually defined by the technology and processes that it involves. However, Ethan reminds us to think about it in more of a human-centered way.
“I can only say because there’s so many human beings and emotions involved, please don’t force it”.
Ethan is convinced that coaching for small improvements using AskNicely has helped Lendmark reach a superior level of customer experience. Confident, motivated and empowered employees are now delivering awesome experiences to customers, and happy and impressed customers are coming back for repeat business and referrals.