|Image courtesy of TVZ Design|
OK. I confess. I don't know much about diamonds, but I'm familiar with the 4 Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat; some have added a fifth C, though it seems to vary by source: either certificate, confidence, or cost. The Cs define a diamond's overall quality.
While my knowledge of diamonds is limited, I do know how those Cs relate to the customer experience. Shall we?
Let's start with the original 4 Cs.
Color: The most pure and perfect diamond is completely transparent. The less color, the more rare.
Transparency in any people-centric, customer-centric culture is vital. It's important that leadership is transparent with employees. This fosters a culture of communication, openness, and trust - all of which are important for employee engagement. Transparency with customers leads to much of the same. It's huge for building long-lasting relationships.
Interestingly enough, what we're learning about businesses today aligns with the last sentence of the "color" definition. The less color, the more rare. Transparency seems to be a rarity in today's organizations.
Cut: Not the shape but the proportions to which the stone was polished. The cut impacts a diamond's brilliance. A master craftsman is necessary to bring out the sparkle and beauty; his work determines the value of the stone.
Just like a well-cut diamond has the greatest brilliance and value, a well-planned customer experience journey will yield the greatest results. Solid leadership, a defined purpose, cross-functional involvement, a customer-centric/people-centric culture, the right people, a well-thought-out customer journey map, and solid execution are cornerstones to your organization's customer experience brilliance.
This is the only one of the four Cs that is manipulated by a human; the rest are all qualities of the stones themselves. So to that point, having the right people in place to deliver on a well-designed plan allows the organization to deliver the value that customers come to expect.
Clarity: Defined as internal characteristics, structural quality/imperfections, surface blemishes. The fewer the imperfections, the more brilliant and valuable the diamond.
On the surface, without even looking at how this term is defined in the diamond world, I think it's important for every employee in the organization to have/experience clarity when it comes to understanding the company's purpose and brand promise.
Beyond that, an organization's internal characteristics and structural (im)perfections define who it is and what the culture is like. They both need to be addressed. Unlike a diamond, this can be manipulated by a master craftsman, too. And like a diamond, the fewer imperfections, the better.
Surface blemishes on a diamond are comparable to how your frontline interacts with your customers. These don't have to be blemishes, at all, which has a negative connotation. Fix the things on the inside, and the outside will shine.
Carat: A unit of measurement or mass; there are 100 points in a carat.
Decide your key metrics based on your most important business outcomes. Make sure everyone understands what's important to the success of the business and then measure against it. And, measure your organization's performance through the various voices I'll refer to as VOX, i.e., where X = customers, partners, employees, the market, the business. Analyze for insights. And do something about it.
What gets measured gets done. -Tom Peters
The best way to summarize the lessons from the 4 Cs is: transparency, a well-planned journey, a great culture with great people, and metrics are important to a successful customer experience that conveys the principles of trust, value, and quality to your employees and your customers.
An interesting thing to note is that Cut is the only C that requires human intervention to ensure the beauty of the stone. As you know, this is unlike the customer experience, where human interaction is required in every facet of the relationship, whether behind the scenes or on the frontline. Your people are critical to the success of the customer experience. I'll keep pushing that message; it's an important one!
Let's take a quick look at those optional 5th Cs to see where they come into play.
Certificate: The certificate is a grading report and an assurance of quality. It comes from an independent third party; it's an outside opinion about the quality of the stone.
Your outside opinion comes from your customers, non-customers, partners, and the market. Those voices, those opinions are critical to understanding, facilitating, and validating your efforts to improve the customer experience. But don't forget: through online reviews, word of mouth, etc., your customers have access to outside opinions about your products and services, too.
Confidence: Diamonds can be/are a huge investment. Someone purchasing a diamond needs to be informed about, and confident in, his decision about where to buy and what to buy.
The same is true for your customers. They come to you because they are prepared, informed, and confident in the products and services you offer. Never give them reason to question their decisions or to doubt their trust in you.
Cost: The higher the quality of diamond, the greater the money that can be commanded.
Same goes for the quality of the products and services you provide. It's been shown that customers are willing to pay a premium for high-quality goods and services. Customers will pay to receive better service (though they shouldn't have to). Offer the quality, value, and experience that customers are looking for.
Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality. -Peter Drucker