By Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service
June has seen many people and organisations across the world celebrate Pride month – with activities ranging from the launch of new, Pride-themed products to raise money for LGBTQI+ charities to adorning logos and digital channels with rainbow colours.
I’m encouraged to see so much support for underrepresented communities, and it is also important to consider how businesses can truly champion diversity and inclusion in a way that goes beyond Pride month, to promote meaningful and lasting change that benefits customers, businesses and wider society.
Customers are holding businesses to higher ethical standards than ever before; and are increasingly more likely to support and trust brands that demonstrate they are committed to addressing the societal issues that matter to them – from sustainability to diversity.
As such, employing and developing a diverse workforce that is hyper-focused on customer service is important for success. Indeed, talent insight leader Josh Bersin has highlighted research suggesting that diverse companies outperform their competitors by 35%, while inclusive businesses are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their field.
Diversity and inclusion are now core parts of the employee and customer experience. The reality is, the more diverse your customer-facing people are, the more likely they will be able to show empathy and understanding towards your diverse customer base. You are able to serve them better and they are more likely to remain loyal and spend more with you.
True customer service excellence comes when diversity and inclusion is hardwired into businesses practices and governance structures. Leadership and accountability is key. If all your leaders think in a similar way and have similar experiences, it will hold the organisation back.
Ultimately a more innovative and diverse workforce also brings with it fresh perspectives, experiences, and opinions. And building a team with different perspectives and skills will motivate its everyone to learn from each other and continuously broaden their competencies. This leads to an enhanced customer experience, highlights new opportunities and improves business performance.