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Seven golden rules of integrity

Integrity is a foundation pillar and an essential part of delivering Customer Experience (CX) excellence. Without this strong integrity foundation in place, businesses simply fail.

Mikey Killeen of the CX Academy outlines seven golden rules that will help you build integrity with your customers.

Stand for something more than profit

Customers want to be associated with brands that aren’t purely focused on their bottom line. Lush, a purveyor of aromatic soaps and cosmetics, scores incredibly with its customers when it comes to integrity; the business is based around staunch moral and ethical values. For example, Lush is vociferously opposed to animal testing, and it shows great concern with environmental factors such as pollution and global warming. This is reflected in the way it packages its products – or not, as the case may be, as Lush champions an initiative known as Naked Packaging. Consequently, shoppers place a great degree of trust in the organisation, and this is reflected in its high integrity score in CXi’s Ireland Customer Experience report 2016.

Demonstrate to customers that you are acting in their best interest

Brands need to earn the trust of their customers by showing they truly care about them.

For credit unions, trust is central to its relationships with members, and maintaining that trust is a critical factor in their ongoing success. Run by their members, for their members, credit unions forge a powerful bond with their customers, built completely on trust. They work hard to understand what individual customers want and products are designed to meet real customer needs, rather than being based on the ideas of backroom executives.

Show that you value your customers by actively listening, asking the right questions and demonstrating understanding

There are a range of “signalling behaviours” that indicate to a customer that a business is concerned about their welfare and wants to do its best to help them achieve their objective. Alarm monitoring firm, PhoneWatch consistently delivers in this area. The foundation of its entire business strategy is its people: Eoin Dunne, CEO PhoneWatch says “processes and systems cannot act with integrity – only people can”. Where possible, businesses should engage with customers by asking relevant questions before making recommendations, or assessing a customers’ needs and making sure they’re being met.

Trust is built upon doing what you say you are going to do

Keeping your promises to customers, meeting deadlines and following up is vital. CityLink scored the highest in their sector for Integrity in CXi’s Ireland Customer Experience report 2016. CityLink, which provides direct non-stop buses between Galway and Dublin Airport, does the simple things brilliantly, and is renowned for its reliability and punctuality. It doesn’t overpromise or try to do anything fancy, it just consistently meets customer expectations.

Customers expect to be kept informed so use of technology, particularly mobile, is key

The advent of tracking technology has changed consumer expectations around being kept informed. Domino Pizza’s mobile app is setting the standard for mobile delivery apps. With its simple interface and live ‘pizza tracker’ with time updates, customers are able to track their pizza from dough to door and are confident their order will be delivered on time. A live tracking app or feature offers the ultimate transparency to the customer; they have all the information they need, at the touch of a button.

Trust will grow if staff are knowledgeable and seen as experts

Behavioural economics teaches us that we are naturally predisposed to trust experts. John Lewis staff, for example, are experts in their specific category areas. The ethos of the retailer is to offer customers their knowledge without expecting a sale in return. They see their mission as equipping the customer with all they need to know to make an informed decision. The customer may go elsewhere, but supported with John Lewis’s “never knowingly undersold” guarantee, why would they?

Trust is a two-way street

Brands need to trust their customers and their staff if they want to be trusted themselves: Amazon trusts its customers when they report non-delivery; Marks & Spencer trusts its customers to return garments in good order. Many companies, however, do not trust their customers and put in place procedures and barriers that affect all customers rather than just the small few worthy of mistrust. This is about attitude, not actual behaviour.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Warren Buffett

As with any relationship, a large amount of time and effort is required to build integrity and establish an emotional bond. Unfortunately, all of that hard work can mean nothing after one negative experience. Let’s take LUAS for example: traditionally it had delivered a brilliant Customer Experience since its inception; however, last year’s strike had a negative impact on the company’s integrity score. Unfortunately for LUAS, this means the company has to start from scratch to repair the damage that has been done. But they haven’t shied away from that; recently they have re-introduced a ‘Meet the manager’ programme, where they have genuine LUAS management standing on platforms ready to answer any questions that come their way. We think this is a great start to try to win back the hearts and minds of its customer base.

Take your business from good to remarkable

The CX Academy is Ireland’s leading Customer Experience training practitioner. Integrity is just one of six pillars in their CX framework. To learn more about the six pillars and how to deliver an effective CX strategy, sign up to the CX Masterclass here.

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