It’s logical, right? Happy employees equal happy customers. And the more engaged, informed and empowered frontline employees are to serve the customer efficiently and effectively, the better your company’s customer experience will be, right?

To highlight this notion, we wanted to share the story of Tom Probola from Ricoh Americas Corporation. Tom was just named a 2013 1to1 Media Customer Champion for his stellar efforts and the significant results that have enhanced Ricoh’s customer experience. Nice job, Tom!

What are 1to1 Media Customer Champions?
Each year 1to1 Media (in combination with Forrester Research this year) selects 12 Customer Champions. The winners are customer-centric executives who focus on customers because they understand that engaged customers impact the bottom line in a big way.

Don Peppers, cofounder of Peppers & Rogers Group, says it best: “These Customer Champions are the ‘actual people’ who are improving the customer experience for all of us. Let’s not just recognize them, but thank them for playing such a big role in improving our lives as consumers!”

What Makes Tom a Customer Champion?
Tom Probola joined Ricoh Americas Corporation seven years ago. His job is 100% focused on customer excellence. When he arrived, the company didn’t have a structured Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. This became Tom’s primary emphasis. He set out to understand Ricoh’s existing customer satisfaction program landscape and how to improve its impact. In doing so, he established and leads the company’s Customer Excellence Program. The goal: To improve the customer experience using customer studies, corporate complaint management, account specific process improvements, and employee education initiatives.

Using Qualtrics Research Suite, the Customer Excellence team gathers VoC data and acts on the insights to implement customer-specific process improvements. The team gathers data via several “listening posts” including social media, web, customer councils, inbound complaints and employee feedback. Ricoh also distributes surveys to both internal and external customers and conducts an analysis of customer needs and values. Tom’s role is to reinforce Ricoh’s “customer first” culture. His team delivers insights to business leaders to implement process improvements.

Importantly, Ricoh shares the knowledge gained via customer feedback throughout the company to enhance employee engagement. The company regularly surveys employees in customer-facing roles to identify issues that impact customers and to implement process improvement initiatives.

How has Tom’s Customer-Centric Approach Translated into Business Benefits for Ricoh?
Tom introduced the Customer Loyalty Index to Ricoh leadership, a vital customer metric. Since inception it’s expanded into several business channels, evolving into a scorecard, with the data integrated into both corporate and functional goals.

Each quarter, Ricoh deploys a loyalty survey to a random customer sample. Immediate concerns are routed in real-time to the Customer Relations team, which immediately contacts customers, and logs and tracks issues through resolution. On average, resolution satisfaction is over 95%.
Satisfaction scores increased by 20% when Ricoh proactively follows up on issues received via survey. To fuel customer satisfaction, increase follow-up and track activities, Ricoh will integrate Qualtrics Research Suite with its CRM solution. Account owners will have access to real-time customer survey responses, as well as contact and profile information. Instant visibility to loyalty scores empowers sales with the data to act on immediate customer growth and retention opportunities.

“The Customer Champions demonstrate exceptional personal commitment to their customers,” said Harley Manning, Forrester vice president and research director. “They don’t just talk about better experiences; they take personal action every day to make better experiences happen. At Forrester, we’re honored to have been part of the team that picked the winners from this year’s impressive field of candidates.”

Ricoh is doing just this. Taking action on behalf of the customer, listening to employees, gathering data and disseminating the results for cohesive, accurate and improved customer experiences.

What’s your organization doing to enhance the customer experience? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!