How do you go through the transition to a customer-centric culture?
In our recent article, we outlined steps that you should consider taking to prepare employees for a customer experience transformation. But we all know that things are easier said than done. Even with the best intentions and most thorough plans, when we’re in the thick of change, plans often get tossed out the window. So, if you’re in the midst of your transformation and you’re ready to pull your hair out, or if you’re eager to plan one step ahead to ensure that customer-centric culture adoption is probable, instead of possible, you’re at the right place. With proper training and support, the odds are in your favor for a successful transformation. Address the barriers to employee behavior change with these 5 ways to maintain a customer-centric culture.
Enjoy a complimentary copy of Forrester’s report, Remove Barriers And Add Enablers For A Customer-Centric Culture.
Foster a customer-centric culture in your organization
#1 Put passion at the core of the change to a customer-centric culture.
Change for change sake will almost certainly result in very little buy-in. There are several steps to ensuring a smooth customer experience transformation and passion must be present in every one. Articulating why it matters, beyond dollars, is an important part of the puzzle. Every employee should be able to understand, memorize, and internalize why this change to a customer-centric culture is necessary and what the benefits are. The underlying passion should not only drive how you interact with your customers, but with your employees and partners as well. How they’re treated, at all times, will significantly impact your overall customer experience.
This starts with the leadership team. Without the support of the men and women at the top, the success of customer-centric culture initiatives will be short lived, and that’s if they get off the ground at all. This doesn’t mean giving a thumbs up and putting the pedal to the metal. The leadership team must model commit to the change through their actions and the conversations they have to ignite the same passion in others.Furthermore, the leadership team should celebrate employees whose shared passion influences the positive behaviors of others and business outcomes. Rewarding them appropriately sends a strong signal throughout the organization that “passion” is not a fluff word, it enforces greater cohesion among employees, to the leadership team, and the business goals.
#2 Understand your customer’s journey.
In a recent McKinsey article, “From touchpoints to journeys: Seeing the world as customers do,” they touch on the importance of putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. They claim, “The customer’s ultimate satisfaction or irritation stems from his or her overall impression over the course of an end-to-end journey, rather than with individual touchpoints along the way.” This is a critical component to the maintenance of a customer-centric culture. Customer centricity shouldn’t stop at customer support, it should be pulled through the entire journey. By understanding what that journey looks like, you can infuse your passion at every touchpoint. Doing so will demonstrate how different departments contribute to the customer experience, it will highlight areas for improvement, and with proper action, enable you to elevate the journey as whole.
To get a holistic view of your customer journey, it’s important to have full visibility into what they’re looking for, what they’re engaging with and what’s helping them succeed or encouraging them to make a purchase. Things like machine learning and rich usage analytics make it possible (and easy) to see the journey they’re on, predict what they’ll need next, and deliver relevant information that will keep them engaged and satisfied.
This way of thinking won’t just delight your customers, considering the customer journey, rather than customer touchpoints, is significantly more strongly correlated with overall business outcomes. In fact, a recent customer experience study showed that emphasis on the journey increased customer satisfaction by up to 117%.
#3 Find your customer experience transformation advocates.
Leadership buy-in is essential but when the rubber hits the road, it’s important to have a team of advocates at varying levels in the organization to lead the transformation and encourage others to get on board. The role of this team is to liaise with other advocates and key people within the organization to ensure that everyone who contributes to the customer journey takes ownership and is held accountable for their part of the transformation.
Similar to any major type of change management, these advocates are also responsible for motivating the larger team to stay on track of your customer-centric culture, regularly ignite that passion and help to remind everyone how their efforts (or lack thereof) impact the overall experience.
Perhaps the best part about having a team of advocates is that it facilitates peer learning. Learning from, or being motivated by peers sometimes offers a different language or perspective on the company goal that really resonates with employees, which can gain a foothold toward an effective transformation. Additionally, your employees may feel safer or more confident going to one of their peers than directly to the leadership team, as they are equals and fellow learners. Having a proper documentation process will ensure this is seemless process.
#4 Let the data guide you.
It is a given that if you’re shifting to a customer-centric approach, it’s because you want customer satisfaction to be the driving force of your organization. But “intuition” is not a strategy. You can’t assume, guess or go with your gut feel on what it is your customers want. To implement an efficient customer-centric culture, you’ve got to look at what your data is telling you and let it guide transformation in real-time. With the insight your usage analytics gives you, you can see what your customers need. They are telling you this in their search behavior. Intelligent search allows you to deliver a relevant user experience, and if you’re lacking the information your customers seek, you know what your team needs to create to better meet their needs.
In addition to your usage analytics, be sure to keep a pulse on your customer-experience performance indicators, like customer satisfaction, time to resolution or case deflection. This data is a reflection of your customers’ perception of your brand. Tying those metrics directly to operational-performance indicators, will give you an idea of how your customer experience transformation is being maintained.
Your data is your window into your customer’s rational and emotional needs. Leverage the insight to drive day-to-day behaviors and processes for your customer experience transformation.
#5 Continuously reinforce your mission across the board.
Your customer-centric culture and philosophy should serve as your organization’s true north, which means that all decisions that are made should feed into your customer experience goals. This should be apparent in the following ways:
- Make sure you have the right team in place. Your organization’s culture is defined by your people. A customer experience transformation requires some serious thinking about the people that will be involved. Part of maintaining the momentum of your transformation is assessing that you hire the right people, train the people you have and let go of the ones that do not support the company’s vision.
- Make a conscious effort to reiterate your organization’s vision. The vision is something that needs to be part of every campaign plan, every post-mortem, and everything in between. Only expressing why customer-centricity is important at the holiday party certainly is simply not enough and sends the message to employees that they too only need to think about it once a year.
- Challenge your team by asking questions. Ray Davis, President and CEO of Umpqua Bank, a the Pacific-Northwest-based U.S. retail bank that’s consistently top rated for service says, ‘‘Maintaining a culture is like raising a teenager. You’re constantly checking in. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you hanging out with?’’ Challenging your team may ruffle a few feathers but it reminds the team that your plan is in place for a reason.
Companies with customer-centric cultures are the ones who are pioneering the digital age. However, such cultures require some nurturing, key tools, and policies in place to make sure they are effectively implemented and sustainable. To learn about about maintaining a customer-centric culture, get your limited-time only complimentary copy of Forrester’s report.
About Samantha Demers
Samantha Demers is Coveo’s Senior Content Editor, based in Montreal, Quebec. She is a passionate marketing and communications professional who has built her career in the tech industry by helping companies bring their brands to life and remain relevant in their field. Her motto; “engage like a consumer, not like a marketer” helps Coveo connect with its audience throughout their Intelligent Insights journey.
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