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Five Ways Diversity and Inclusion Positively Impact the Customer Experience

Improving the customer experience is high on the list of priorities for most businesses in 2023. As consumers’ expectations rise and businesses face increasing costs, differentiating on customer experience is key. 80% of respondents in a Salesforce study said their experience was more important than a business’ products and services. The delivery of a consistent, integrated experience across all touchpoints is the foundation of many businesses’ CX strategies, and in 2023 businesses will invest in digital experiences, deeper levels of personalization, centralized data platforms and improved data security.

But there’s one critical enabler to delivering industry-leading CX: there is a strong correlation between a company’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion and the customer experience it delivers. According to a Harvard Business Review report, if just one team member has traits in common with the customer, the entire team is 152% more likely to understand the customer.

Here are five ways a strong D, E and I strategy can drive a better customer experience:

Companies with high levels of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report better employee engagement and retention. Employee engagement and a great customer experience run in sync, and businesses reporting higher levels of engagement are those with firm D, E and I commitments. Companies with an employee engagement programme generate 233% greater customer loyalty than those without, according to a study by Aberdeen Group. A Glassdoor study looking at millennials in the workplace found 83% of millennials are actively engaged in their businesses when their companies support D, E and I initiatives. Empowered, engaged employees are committed to delivering a company’s goals and motivated to deliver the best customer experience. They understand the correlation between customer experience, the company’s success, and the role they play in delivering against business goals. They demonstrate empathy and high levels of emotional intelligence. Conversely, businesses with disengaged, demotivated employees are more likely to give a disconnected customer experience which is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Diverse, inclusive businesses are proven to drive innovation, creating a differentiated customer experience. The ability to harness the diversity of thought is needed for tackling some of the key challenges we face with as a business and a wider society. A diverse, inclusive business encourages differences in thought processes and a broader mix of ways to design and deliver products, address customer issues, interact and transact, and new ways to extract insight from customers to deliver personalized customer journeys. Businesses with higher revenues generated by innovation – through innovation in product design, for example – are proven to have higher levels of diversity.

BCG Group studied 1700 organizations across eight different countries. Those businesses with higher than average diversity across their leadership teams reported innovation revenue 19 percentage points higher (45% of total revenue) than companies with lower-than-average diversity on their management teams (26% of total revenue). What’s really interesting here is when adjustments are made to the diverse make-up of the leadership teams, innovation revenue rises by a percentage point.

Businesses reporting higher levels of diversity attract the best talent to deliver the best customer experience. A Glassdoor study found 76% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is important when evaluating companies and job offers. 32% would not apply for a job at a business they felt didn’t show a commitment to diversity and inclusion. As well as the motivation and respect that comes from employees bringing their whole selves to work, having psychological safety and feeling like their voices are heard, there’s a ripple effect: people feel good about working for businesses committed to actioning inclusion. It shows a business is astute, committed to the long-term, and can respond to changing employee and customer sentiment. All of these factors impact the customer experience.

Organizations actioning DE and I create greater accessibility in their customer communications. The ability to understand and interact with customer communications we receive is something most of us take for granted. Still, for many customers identifying as neurodiverse, with sight or hearing impairments or facing mental and physical barriers, this can be a huge challenge. A truly inclusive customer experience should be accessible to and inclusive for all: avoiding bias in language, adding subtitles to social posts and how-to videos, and ensuring communications can be read clearly by e-readers are just a few processes that are simple to incorporate but can make a big difference. At Colt, it’s something we’re learning about and working towards, but we still have work to do. We have a five-year roadmap to improve accessibility in the employee and customer experience, which is a key strategic focus for us right now. At its heart, the best customer experience has understandable communications that foster a sense of belonging. Likewise, accessibility should be considered in the earliest stages of product design, regardless of whether you manufacture tangible items, sell digital products or provide a service.

Companies with high levels of diversity outperform others financially and invest this back into the customer experience. Deloitte found that diverse businesses generate 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee than less diverse businesses: cashflow, which they can invest back into the business to develop a better customer experience. Forbes cites a Credit Suisse Research Institute study which found that organizations with at least one female board member generated higher ROI and a better average growth rate than companies with male-only boards, while Harvard Business Review found that more diverse companies generated 19% higher revenue than those with lower-than-average diversity. With more than 63% of companies saying they intend to increase their CX spending in 2023, this virtuous circle is set to continue.


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