Customer Experience: It’s a Team Sport!

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Customer experience

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.—Babe Ruth

 

So, you are looking at improving your customer’s experience? You hired a very capable individual to lead the way. Everyone is excited about the possibility of raising the bar on customer experience efforts.

Then, your new leader goes about the business of evaluating your current operations. However, one person, over even a small team, cannot bring your vision to life.

In order to transform your organization’s customer experience delivery, everyone must take part. Below are (10) ten ways to leverage the power of many to accomplish customer experience transformation:

1) Top leadership must embrace the new shared vision of customer experience.

This point is an intuitive one, but cannot be overstated. Senior leaders within an organization who are striving for customer experience transformation must be the first to fully embrace what such change might bring.

This might mean re-prioritizing strategic goals and initiatives. It might mean holding off on other planned initiatives if they might get in the way of customer experience efforts.

A big part of this is making sure to include the customer experience leader in strategic and goal-setting meetings. While many people think of customer experience as synonymous with customer service, senior leaders understand that customer experience is much more expansive and a part of every facet of organizational operations.

These leaders go out of their way to have customer-focused leaders at the table to represent the customer’s voice, because they know that doing so is key to effective transformation.

2) Create customer experience role/team for the organization and not as a department.

No matter what you call the individual or team charged with leading the way to customer experience transformation, this role should not be housed in a siloed department. Rather, in order to remain at the forefront of all employee’s minds, this should be a role or a team for the organization.

They should be seen as internal and external customer advocates not tied to one functional area over another. Said another way, their main focus should be on uncovering new ways to improve the experience that all of your customers have with your organization.

3) Involve front line employees in the change that you are seeking.

Key to external customer experience transformation is to involve internal customers (also known as “employees”) in discovering gaps and reinventing new ways to delight your customers.

Front line employees interact  more frequently with your organization’s customers. They often know exactly what customers have been asking for or where your areas of improvement exist.

Think about creating an employee advisory group to partner with your customer experience leader and or team to help frame out current and future state for your customer experience initiatives. This group would be made up of 10-12 cross-functional individuals. Making sure to include a diverse set of thinkers will make this a more effective resource. Doing so, will also increase your employee’s engagement and increase retention over the long haul.

4) Show team members how what they do contributes to transformation.

The entire organization cannot be a part of the employee advisory group I recommended above, but one of most important things that should be done up front is to  “connect the dots” for all employees in all departments.

Unit or department managers play a key role in defining for their teams how their departmental functions contribute to this new customer experience transformation.

As I often say, everyone is my customer. It is the department managers role to help every member of their team see that as well.

If you go about your day, knowing that you are there to serve everyone with whom you come in contact, then it makes it easy to think about how you can help improve the customer experience.

 

From billing, to IT, to facilities, to marketing, each department’s service focus helps to create an environment where customer experience transformation is more than possible!

5) Align resources with the new vision.

One of the most frustrating parts of suggesting deep customer-focused process improvements is knowing that organizational resources are not aligned with the required changes.

Leadership teams must be sure to allot resources, human and financial, to potential organizational enhancements to promote customer experience changes. Resources may be needed for CRM, survey and or analytical tools. Marketing may need to help with creating communication tools. IT may be requested for new software roll-outs. Make sure that your organization’s resources are fully aligned with your new direction.

6) Positively recognize employee efforts.

I am a huge believer that people are more motivated to follow a vision if they are recognized for their efforts along the way. To this extent, the most effective way to have everyone get on board with customer experience initiatives is to catch them doing customer-focused positive behaviors.

If you are like me, you could stand a little more recognition. From years of managing very talented and caring folks, my natural inclination to call out their good behaviors really did promote that same behavior and more!

In the context of creating an “excellence in customer experience” attitude, I would institute a simple recognition program where anyone can “call out” great customer-focused behavior, by filling out a, for example, a “Customer Champion” postcard accolade to those who have done something focused on furthering the customer experience culture you are trying to create. Set it up so that these accolades can be promoted on the company intranet with a leader board for the top ranking employees.

This is just an idea.

No matter what, put the carrot out in front for your internal customers to see. Let them have fun creating a fabulous customer experience!

7) Fill any knowledge gaps that may affect transformation with customized training.

Trying to establish a consistent customer experience takes a huge effort on everyone’s part. One element of transformation is making sure that your internal customers have all of the skills and knowledge they need to perform at their best.

Do you have a strong training and development program in your organization?

This could range from basic customer experience training highlighting the customer journey. It would involve common service delivery concepts. More importantly, though, it should be an interactive exchange of best practices coupled with some inspiration.

Even better would be to build in little follow-up sessions or quick tips to reinforce key concepts. Training your internal customers and then recognizing them for doing what they learned will be a winning combination!

8) Increase communication channels to promote transparency.

In general, I believe in over-communicating.

Communication is even more important when going through a major culture change. Customer experience transformation requires consistent internal and external communication through many different mediums.

Have you ever been in a meeting and heard that a major change is taking place that will affect your functional area and you had no clue that it was taking place?

How did you feel?

The best way to overcome these type of ripple effects is to communicate early and often.

Partner with your marketing department to post updates on the company intranet site. Hold cross-functional change meetings monthly to make sure that all new changes are aligned with top strategic plans.

Any type of change can be very confusing, but rolling out a communication strategy that seeks to inform internal and external customers on the progress of changes will go a long way in keeping morale high and engagement even higher!

9) Customers must be front and center and involved in making changes that affect them.

Similar to what I mentioned earlier with involving internal customers in the change process, it is equally important to invite your external customers to provide input into their perceptions of the current state of the experience you are delivering. They also need to be heavily involved, via advisory boards and focus groups, in the process of re-designing the improved experience.

You know what they say about assumptions. When it comes to re-designing your customer’s experience, making assumptions about what they want is like jumping out of a plane without first checking your parachute. Would you ever do that?

Your customer is your teammate. Include them in the strategy for taking that first scary jump!

10) Combine data with gut to support the most compelling changes.

Early on in my customer experience career, I used to try to promote process improvements by relating what I felt in my “gut.” I would tell my boss what I “heard” the customer say.

As you can imagine, this did not get me far.

I ended up frustrated and wondering why the senior team did not “get it.”

As years went on, along with my frustration levels, I realized that I had to back up my “gut” with data.

For the individual or team leading the charge to transform customer experience, I would highly recommend that you put performance metrics in place, to start. Make sure to share these with your leadership team and make sure they agree with the metrics you choose.

You will be a lot less frustrated and obtain a much higher level of support for the change your customers are begging to see.

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Sometimes, moving in the direction of change can feel like walking a tightrope. All of this must be done in the spirit of continual collaboration and improvement, setting egos aside with an eye on the end game.

A customer’s experience with a brand/organization is a journey. Like any journey, it involves many different people in a sort of baton race to make it seamless and memorable.

I usually caution clients against attempting customer experience transformation in a vacuum. Involve everyone, and you will see the results you dreamed of take form faster and in a more delightful way!

Customer experience is a team sport! It’s everyone’s responsibility to make it a success!

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Thank you for reading this article. I hope that it sparks some good thoughts and conversation on this topic. I welcome any additions to what I have outlined above. If you would like to Share it, please do.

 

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