If you had an opportunity to attend the Gartner Customer 360 event, your head was probably swimming (like ours) over all the opportunities to enhance customer focus for your organization and creating a customer driven culture. But it’s one thing to learn and another to take action. In this series, we provide our thoughts on how you can turn the insights you learned into actions for your company.
For example, we heard analyst, and Gartner VP, Michael Maoz’s recommendations about creating a customer-driven culture. So we’ve provided our thoughts on some actions.
1) Maoz recommendation: Have strong leadership.
Your action: Leadership can’t just talk about customer experience initiative or creating a customer driven culture, you must be actively engaged in the initiatives. Establishing goals, defining processes and most importably, setting examples through your own actions.
2) Maoz recommendation: Formalize and communicate the company message.
Your action: Make it simple and based solely on customer need. Establish frameworks, rather than multiple rules. Nordstrom’s offers their empowering rule for customer experience: “Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.”
Of course Nordstrom’s has an employee manual, proven processes and training programs, but they’ve established a framework that allows associates to adapt in the face of challenges, when they’re forced to deviate from the set course. Objectives, strengths, problems, challenges, and customer emotions are unique different to each customer, so you’re enabling your employees to make instant decisions using their own intuition and creativity. Sometimes they are the right decisions, sometimes not so much. As a leader, you can trust the right decisions will outweigh the wrong ones if you’ve done your job: communicating the mission clearly.
3) Maoz recommendation: Find fans.
Your action: Nothing amplifies your customer experience culture changes more powerfully than brand fans. Leverage customer testimonials and stories for your branding. The best way to do this? Talk to your customers. Two-way conversations, rather than data gleaned from surveys.
Also don’t forget to find those employees who “get it” and leverage their enthusiasm, ideas and leadership to drive others. We might also recommend the creation of internal evangelists. Here’s how. Select top performers with direct customer contact and solicit their input in the strategic phases of your own experience building initiatives. Their participation helps build ownership, which translates into peer leadership down the road.
4) Maoz recommendation: Company values should be stated as behaviors, not theories.
Your action: It’s not enough to just communicate the customer experience goals of the organization. They must be defined as customer focused actions. Once you’ve established your processes and framework, take the time to develop a plan for each individual employee communicating individual goals and the specific steps and actions they must achieve as they actively play a role in the organization’s customer experience success.
5) Maoz recommendation: Tie incentives to your customer experience strategy and recognize achievements regularly.
Your action: Create corporate Key Performance Indicators focused on customer experiences. Make sure everyone understands these are just as important as the company’s financial goals. How well employees are meeting the customer’s goals. Processes refined through customer input. Flexibility in serving a customer. Make sure your customer experience wins are rewarded loudly and proudly to your entire organization.
6) Maoz recommendation: Communicate your messages with stories .
Your action: Create legacies by sharing customer experience stories and knowledge. When you create these stories, you create a common connection for your entire team. You give your employees a foundation for WHY the company does what it does. And they will share these stories with customer and employee prospects on a regular basis. Best of all, these stories generate trust and rapport for your sales team when shared with customers.
7) Maoz recommendation: Encourage transparency for your customers.
Your action: Provide customers with learning opportunities to make it easier to learn about your business, sharing both the positives and the negatives. Leverage social media to give peeks into your services, your clients, your successes and your culture. Don’t be afraid to address negative feedback openly online as it demonstrates the company’s commitment to the customer experience.
8) Maoz recommendation: Responsibilities and rewards must be made clear .
Your action: Expereince has shown us the best way to start this process is to include your employees in the goal-setting. Their feedback is vital to understanding and mapping the customer purchase journey. More importantly, with their buy-in, they are far more invested in success and clarity is established at the front end. As I stated before, make sure the rewards are frequent and tied directly to customer experience wins.
9) Maoz recommendation: Provide training and education.
Your action: If you don’t have a formal training program, it should become an organizational priority. Studies have shown the more often you reinforce a message, the better an employee retains it. Let them practice your new customer experience processes using real-world scenarios but in the safe environment of your training program. It’s not as difficult as you might think. You do the training once, on video, then store it for use over and over again on a Learning Management System. Or you can hire an experienced third-party solution to develop your training program for you.
10) Maoz recommendation: Recruit differently .
Your action: Recruiting employees with a service mentality takes a unique approach. Because they all say they are customer focused simply because they don’t understand what that means within your unique culture. Utilize a customized online assessment tool for pre-screening and then follow it up with revealing interview questions. And your recruitment ads should lay out the type of individual who can be highly successful in your organization. Then you’re not wasting time interviewing those who won’t fit.
11) Maoz recommendation: Recognize that it takes commitment and time.
Your action: Customer experience transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a commitment and leadership activity. It’s not the way business has been done over the years and requires a dramatic paradigm shift that can only occur over time and with practice.
Take the time to initiate your own efforts. And if you need it, we’re here to help.
Helicx provides companies and organizations with a toolbox of processes (assessments, benchmarking and workshops) to enable them to create systems that attract and retain the best customers and the best employees. The Helicx process focuses on the business activities that most influence the customer experience such as marketing, sales, employee interactions and leadership. To see if these processes are right for your organization, take this survey.