Over the last 16 years, the barriers to change between competitors have decreased due to the rapid digitalisation of companies. With competitors being only one click away, having competitive pricing and high-end product quality is no longer enough. Since everyone can, in an instant, compare companies on all things related to the customer experience, delivery time, customer service, return policies, and even branding are included in the decision process.
More importantly, though, is the alignment of values. Customers want to feel good ethically and morally about their purchases and will ask questions about how your workers are treated, who sits at your board, and how sustainable your product pipeline is. Since this information is publicly available (in most cases), customers will hesitate to interact with you if your business processes don’t align with their ethics and morals.
Another increasing priority for customers is accessibility. Fulfilling the status quo is no longer enough and can even be detrimental in some cases. If the products or experiences you provide are not suitable to consumers’ needs—or their family and friends’ needs—they will be reluctant to buy from you simply due to them being unable to get the most out of your products. Inclusive design and accessibility are increasingly relevant in keeping your customers happy and loyal. Studies have shown that companies that aim to be inclusive of traditionally marginalised groups see a 35% increase in profit margins compared to industry competitors.
How your diverse employees help to reach diverse customers
That increase in profit was not just due to companies suddenly deciding to sell to marginalised groups, it was birthed out of the steps taken to make the company itself more inclusive. To understand where you are not meeting your customers' needs you need to ask the right questions. That is where a diverse workforce can be an invaluable source of information. After all, who better knows what does and doesn’t work for certain demographics than those who are part of it? Think about the needs and values of each of the customer segments you serve and make sure they are represented in your workforce.
Having a diverse workforce can uncover new opportunities in your existing customer pool. However, do not diversify simply for the sake of appearance. Focus on the breadth of perspectives and experience in your company. New perspectives will uncover gaps within your customer experience that could make or break your sales pipeline at any stage. Always ask yourself, “who are we selling to?” “Are we representing all of their diverse voices?” and “Are we actively listening to them?”.
How L&Q residents help the organisation to improve its customer services offering
London & Quadrant (L&Q) is one of the biggest housing associations in London and the South East, UK. They are a not for profit organisation that builds developments for sale and private rental, but also have a large number of social housing properties. In fact, over 60% of their residents are housed within social housing properties. L&Q is committed to improving its customer service and wants to give its employees the tools they need to provide a consistent, high quality, empathetic customer experience. Speaking with residents via their online community is a big part of this.
As a company, they prioritise the voice of their residents when considering how to improve their services and policymaking to make their residents experience the best it can be. To do so, they developed an Insight Community with Alida called “L&Q and You!”. They can directly communicate with their members on their community platform and share new activities, L&Q news & updates, and surveys. Most importantly though are their updates on the changes made as a result of those surveys. Through their recruitment process, they have now gained 3,400 members who regularly complete surveys, participate in forum discussions, and provide feedback on the service being provided by L&Q.
Diversity & Inclusion is incredibly important at L&Q. In one of their most recent projects, they invited LGBTQ+ residents to take part in an open discussion, in an effort to better understand their lived experiences. The research gathered feedback on any experiences the residents had when dealing with other companies and organisations as well as L&Q. During the activity, they discovered that some residents when dealing with other organisations, had unfortunately been discriminated against because of their gender and/or sexuality.
L&Q asked their LGBTQ+ residents to describe both what makes for a good and a bad experience. There were some key themes that came through the feedback, for instance: not to make assumptions about a person’s sexuality or gender, a one-size model does not fit all and a good experience can help to build trust with an organisation. Whilst L&Q already has a reputation for being an LGBTQ+ friendly organisation, it is using these resident experiences to enhance its training materials and to continue its work around diversity and inclusion.
How to diversify your CX?
To be more inclusive at your company, you don’t have to have years of experience with underrepresented demographics like L&Q does. Try to understand your audience beyond traditional demographic information to capture a diverse range of perspectives across gender, race, sexuality, and more. Consult your regional laws around personal data and always offer the option to opt-out. Once you have collected the data, compare it to the demographic breakdown of the types of members you would like to have in your Insight Community. Make sure that the breakdown is proportionate to your existing customers to enable each of them to be heard by you.
Once the Insight Community has been built, observe which demographic segment is the most active and engaged. A lack of engagement could indicate a lack of relevant topics for a certain segment. Put yourself into their shoes, and ask yourself if you are asking them about topics that they can relate to. If you find yourself stuck, try to start with open-ended questions about people's values and problems that are important to them. You can build more niche questions from there and might even discover things you hadn’t previously known about.
Once you have collected their feedback, share with them how it was implemented and changed your product or services. This will encourage higher engagement the next time you conduct a survey or forum discussion. Ultimately, it’s about collaborating with all your customers as individuals to ensure the best customer experience. If people enjoy your services, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends and family who might have similar needs and concerns to them, broadening your customer base.
Let Alida help you with its detailed graphs to uncover your “hidden” customers and develop an Insight Community that is representative and inclusive of all your customers. Connect with us today and take your first step in becoming more empathetic to all your customers.
L&Q is listed by Stonewall as one of the top 100 employers for LGBTQ+ staff. Stonewall’s Top 100 is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, a powerful benchmarking tool used by employers to assess their achievements and progress on LGBT equality in the workplace, as well as their wider work in the community and on service provision.
(2020 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index)