How to design a customer-driven culture

Why you can't have good CX without a customer-driven culture


A checklist for designing a customer-driven culture

1. Purposeful Leadership: Leaders act consistently with a clear, well-articulated set of values.

“For the culture to change, the leaders must change. Executives must become self-aware of how their actions are perceived by the rest of their organisation, and be deliberate in the choices they make to ensure they are signalling the right type of expectations,” Bruce Temkin says.

2.Compelling Brand Values: The organisation is committed to delivering on a set of promises to customers.

“You need as compelling vision, and sitting behind that is a product proposition and a service proposition that responds to the drivers of choice that your customers have. Your front line people, your digital offering, has got to bring to life what the proposition is all about, so your recruitment strategy, training, reward strategy, and how to inspire people, must all be aligned,” Mark Hassell says.

“Really think about the proposition you’re trying to create, it needs to be one that resonates and inspires the organisation. What is the customer vision? What does success look like? The mistake companies make is going out on a promise they have not thought through. They have not done the hard yards. The CX you want to drive needs to have an operational engine room sitting behind it.”

3.Employee Engagement: The workforce is committed to the success of the organisation.

“People are creatures of habit, so they need to be convinced to change how they act. And it takes more than posters,” Temkin says. “Culture is driven by how people think, believe, and act. So you need to create an environment that helps employees in all three of those areas, and not just use marketing tricks to convince them that something is different.”

“Make sure you address the tangible and intangible when designing a culture program,” Tom Champion continues. “Trust is huge driver of anything to do with people, whether it's customer or employees. We've studied the drivers of trust, and found they amount to Integrity, Competence and Transparency. Without addressing these, you'll lower the ceiling on the ROI of any customer-facing initiative and diminish the success of any employee engagement program.”

4.Customer Connectedness: Decisions across the organisation are based on deep insights about customers.

“Surprise amplifies people’s experiences, by something like 400 per cent,” Katja Forbes says. “So if it’s a negative or positive surprise, that’s going to be something they will take away and remember. But there is a fine line between surprising people with things beneficial to them, and making people feel like you stalk them. Get anticipatory design right, you can get some experience wins for customers.

“It doesn’t always have to be technical; lot of things you can do to delight people and make them feel important and understood can be done just by using what you already know about them.”

And what NOT to do:

“Don't treat culture change as an internal marketing campaign,” Temkin warns. “Too many organisations just throw up posters and put splash pages on their intranet. Employees are smart enough to figure out when an organisation is just applying lip service to organisational change. If you're not committed to really driving culture change, then don't bother.”

“If someone says 'we're already customer-centric' that's a big red flag to me,” Champion says. “It's critical to align key stakeholders' understanding of the concept, which often means breaking down preconceived ideas and exposing hard truths around how customer-centric they are, or aren't. Don't think culture change will happen as a lucky by-product of other initiatives. You need explicit programs of work to address it.” 

“We talk to clients who believe that customer service ‘is in our DNA’, but actually nothing has changed, it’s a buzzword,” Hassell says. “There’s this sense that people have to respond, but increasingly making these statements and changing nothing is actually impacting your brand significantly, because you’re not delivering what you say and people abandon you. Customers can see it a mile off and they vote with their feet.”

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