Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : Culture

Home/Archive by Category "Culture"

Episode 007 – CX Depends on Hiring Right

Hiring Right – Episode Number 007 Shownotes…

So much of this work is dependent on hiring the right people to execute the desired customer experience. If you have people that aren’t concerned about customer service and making the customer happy enough with their experience doing business with you, then you have a little additional work to do.

As you have found, since you are in the C-Suite or on the leadership team of your company, you know how important it is to have the right people in the key roles of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are a large company or very small business, if you have the wrong people in place to run your business, things will malfunction.

If you can’t rally the troops, you have the wrong troops. You can’t be making decisions that you don’t feel confident your teams will be executed well.

You need to hire the right people. Front facing, behind the scenes, everyone.

If they don’t work face to face with a customer, they are working to support someone who does.All of these dots need to be connected.

You have got to be decisive and strategic about who and how you hire. This is key.

How well do they feel welcomed into your company? Do they feel like you’ve planned to have them there? Do they feel like folks are ready to welcome them in, show the basics of the layout, introduce them to other staff? Do they feel valued as a person and for the work they have been hired to do? Do they feel engaged? Are they listened to? Do they feel they serve a purpose in a bigger picture of company success?

When you have the right people in place, knowing what their responsibilities are in the customer experience and how they individually impact the outcome, are dedicated to doing their best, they put in the time and effort, the benefits are seen by the customer the company earns their loyalty.

On a side note… if you are looking for a good book on leadership and teamwork, there is a book called Boys in the Boat and it’s about the 1936 American Olympic crew team. It’s seriously a fabulous true story about a few of the boys on the team and their struggles individually and as a team on how they actually made it to and won the 1936 Olympics in Germany. I was literally holding my breath in the last part of the book. But there are many lessons on leadership and the importance of timing of skills and knowledge that are relevant in business today.

It’s also important to remember that when we consider employee churn we need to remember that it is becoming more widely recognized that employees don’t leave their jobs, they typically leave their managers. Think about it… their next job is likely to be very similar to the job they had with you. So why did they leave? Studies suggest that it’s because they weren’t getting what they needed from their managers and leaders. So, they move on.

Hiring the right people and providing everything they need to succeed in training and value when you do this, you are completely on the right track to delivering a customer experience the right market will want to repeat over and over again with you.

For now, understand that when you focus on getting the right people in place, it will start to systematize the consistency of your customer experience. Knowing that you can count on the people you have in place to help navigate through the initial set up stages of the customer experience work will make it much more likely to succeed. I want you to feel that when you have a solid plan from which to work, you’ll have the right people in place that if it has any chance of succeeding, it was worth it. If the plan doesn’t work, you’ll have the solid confidence of knowing it was the plan, not the people, that wasn’t right.

Action steps –

Identify the characteristics and type of people that make good employees.

Look at your current employees that you would be truly heartbroken if they were to leave. Ask yourselves, what is it about them and the way they add value to your business, their positions, and the customer experience that makes them stand out?

During the hiring and interview process, you also need to be sure you hire to fit your culture and those that also hold true to your core values, understand them and embrace them.

Why Core Values Need to Be in Your Customer Experience Focus

 

Core Values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.

My podcast related to core values can be heard here…

Core Values serve as the guiding light for how everyone in your company interacts, communicates and works with each other, external customers, and the community. The core values are the solid foundational building blocks on which your culture is built. They are your company’s principles, beliefs, or philosophy of values.

Core Values provide the framework to help guide many business decisions. When weighing options – refer to the Core Values and the answer should become clear.

Core Values should be unique to your company. Just as your culture should only be able to describe your company alone, the Core Values follow the same idea. Consider examples of Core Values of the big names in business or your niche, but don’t copy them. Don’t try to be them. Try to be as impactful and distinct as they are… in your own way. Otherwise, customers won’t be able to state what is memorable about you and the way you work with them.

Avoid Truth, Integrity, Honesty, and Ethics as stated Core Values. Yes, I went there. My explanation… only because I feel these are inherent in any honestly run business. These will also likely be included in virtually every other company’s core values as well. Get to the Core Values that really mean something in a truly non-generic way. Your company Core Values shouldn’t be able to describe any company other than your own. So don’t include the ones that come standard with every other “Core Values Workshop” mindset. Let’s assume those as a given. If they can’t be assumed, then you’ve got bigger issues than defining other Core Values.

Use phrases or sentences as Core Values to convey the meaning. A word to summarize the intent is great – but extend it with a sentence to demonstrate the meaning within your organization in a specific way. Example – Fun: We work hard, and we play hard. Fun should be included during the work day as well as our outside team activities.

Core Values MUST be exemplified at the leadership level. As with culture, leadership must model Core Values in their actions, behaviors, thoughts, and communications for them to be believed understood and embraced by staff. Should this not be the case, you’ll be lumped into the same category as the notorious, now defunct, Enron. As little as 18 months before their demise, Enron had crafted a Core Values list that was clearly only worth its weight on paper. Had they truly personified those core values, they might still be around today.

Core Values need to be evident in practice – not just written on a document because they sound good. After a visitor spends a day within your company, they should be able to look at your Core Values statement and they are evident by how the company and staff operate as a whole and were apparent and displayed in their own personal experience.

Core Values help in recruiting and hiring decisions. While I’m a huge advocate of diverse thinking and perspectives, the Core Values of staff personalities and characteristics should hold true to the company Core Values. These Core Values, along with your defined ideal culture, should be openly shared and discussed during the interview process. Pay particular attention to how they engage in this part of the interview. Share examples of how Core Values are internally and with external customers. Prompt discussions with candidates on how they might envision the Values being exemplified in the prospective – or past – roles. Their stories will display an accurate understanding of the Core Values and their creativity in displaying them to customers.

Core Values should serve as foundation and guidance, not limitations, for the folks you believe in and invest in to best represent your company and work with your customers. Similar to using the core values to guide business decisions, staff will use them in making daily decisions in their responsibilities. When deciding upon a course of action, if there is a Core Value to support one method vs another, the answer becomes clear. The Values, as a whole, should not be limiting in nature, but provide clarity and direction.

Core Values guide performance reviews. How well your staff lives by and exemplifies the core values of your company should be coached and rewarded. Let’s say you have “Taking Creative Risks” as one of your Core Values. If you have someone who does their job very well, gets along well with others, and customers rave about them personally… yet they take few – if any – risks, they should be coached in this area. First – be certain they really understand what taking creative risks means within your company. Share a few examples of creative risks that you yourself have taken or – concealing the identity – the risks that coworkers have taken. Since risks are never guaranteed as a positive outcome, be sure to share some that did and did not turn out as planned, but keep the way the risk was created and ventured for the benefit of the company or the customer as the main focus.

Core Values are ingrained by frequent and regular discussion and relevant stories. I’m a huge fan of daily and/or weekly team huddles. Have staff share stories about how a Core Value contributed a decision or action for a coworker or customer. Stories are how people relate, internalize, and learn information and concepts. Hearing examples from those around them, staff will start to build on those or take key components and create their own way of modeling those Values.

Embed the Core Values throughout the Customer Journey and Experience. When mapping out your Customer Experience, be sure the Core Values are consistent and evident in every phase and impact point. Pick key moments of influence in the customer journey and consider how the Values can be seen and felt by the customer in each. Have the Core Values in your marketing material, on your website, in the lunch room, conference rooms, walls, feature an “Employee of the Month” who models the Core Values in a newsletter, etc. Talk about them, discuss them, challenge them, find ways to integrate them into conversations.

By intentionally identifying, setting, and modeling Core Values, the more they will become the DNA of your company, distinguish you from your competitors, and make you memorable in the minds of your customers.

It’s a beautiful thing…

SaveSave

Culture’s Impact on Customer Experience

Culture's Impact on Customer ExperienceDefinition of Culture – The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. 

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. (The Business Dictionary).

Needle (2004), stated that organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs, and principles of organizational members. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Deal and Kennedy succinctly define organizational culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000)

Every company has a culture whether you’ve defined it or not. The key is to be in the driver’s seat of defining your culture and being deliberate about shaping it before you are trying to reign in an undesirable culture that has taken hold.

If you find yourself in the latter position… take heart, all is not lost. It is very doable, provided you make the commitment and persevere through the process.  

When you begin the discussion of defining the DESIRED culture of your organization, this is the time to consider….

What does it look like to work IN your company and WITH your company? How is the engagement between leaders and staff, staff and customers?

What is the environment like? Relaxed and casual, or professional and formal? Is it an open working environment or one that uses high walled cubicles?

How do you welcome people in – both as staff and clients? Your culture will be apparent the moment you greet your first candidate or client. The friendliness factor, the thoroughness and follow up displayed exemplifies the culture of your company. Are you a company to be taken seriously, or are you one that looks great on paper, but in practice…. falls short?

Is there clarity around the purpose of your company and product or service? There will be a measurable impact on the success of your company when staff truly believes that what they do matters to the success of the company and the overall customer experience.

How much autonomy will you give your staff? Will they be trained and empowered to fulfill their responsibilities within the organization and with clients?

Do you want a more formal and rigid top-down management style or do you want to empower people to act with the entrepreneurial spirit? Questions such as these will feed into the amount of risk your staff is willing to take in making decisions or working to solve issues for your customers and clients.

Take action in defining – or redefining – your culture by having purposeful conversations with key leaders around the desired culture of your company. As your discussions progress, the process will benefit by giving staff the opportunity to provide input. Staff will have different perspectives and ideas to be considered when crafting the ultimate outcome.

I stress that Leadership should have the most input on the desired culture definition. Leaders are guiding the direction of the company and if they are true leaders, they should have the insight and understanding on the best course to travel.

Make sure your culture is Unique! Even though you may have several competitors in the same space or industry, your culture as a company within that space needs to feel unique. Books are written about Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, Disney, Apple for a reason. They are successful companies with strong cultures. But don’t try to copy them or be like them. I tell my clients to try to be as impactful as them. All of those companies have competition in their space… yet they are unique.

I have my clients show me a marketing brochure. If I can remove my client’s company name and insert the competitions, yet all of the information is still accurate… then there is a problem. It all blends in. What makes you stand out? What makes you different? Your culture will help shape these answers. If you can’t think of anything… start figuring out what customers want that they can’t easily find as far as working style. That will help shape your culture and vice-versa.

Key components in setting a successful organizational culture…

Setting the culture begins at the top. Regardless of the size of your company, the leaders set the tone and example in the congruency of their attitudes, actions, words, and considerations when working with customers, selecting products, and engaging with staff.

Hire people based on competencies AND culture fit. I can’t stress this one enough. My experience shows that 90% of all customer experience and culture work is accomplished simply by hiring the right people that will support and sustain your desired culture. Should you have staff that work against it, or at the very least – don’t support it, this work can be extremely frustrating and ultimately futile. Even just a few people with the wrong attitudes can throw the entire program off course.

You have two people you are considering for the same position. One is competent, yet lacks the years of experience the other does. Yet, the first one actively engaged in the interview when you discussed the culture of your company. You gleaned the impression that they would be very helpful in sustaining the culture you are working hard to execute for staff and clients. The candidate with years of experience didn’t openly say they didn’t like the described culture, but they asked a few times if they could bring in ways of doing things that had worked for them in their past job, if they could work as they needed to on their own as long as the desired outcome was achieved.

Guess which one will be successful in your company? The first candidate. Provided they have the necessary credentials and training, you can train skills and competencies specific to your company. You just can’t train attitudes easily at all. The wrong attitude can derail your culture work.

Open communication promotes success. Companies with free and open communication are far more successful in establishing an engaging culture. When staff feels free to ask questions and discuss core issues with leadership, they’ll be much more engaged and the culture is strengthened, thus the company “team” is united in working in the best interest of the customer and the company reaps the reward of their continued loyalty.

Consequences of not focusing on Culture?

You can be successful in spite of yourselves, but that is not the norm. Not taking the time to actively shape the culture is indicative of a “non-directional” culture prone to reactionary decisions, inconsistencies in customer experiences, and intermittent lucky successes.

Possible Indications of Needing Culture Work

  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Lackluster performance by employees
  • Disengaged staff
  • Minimum expectations delivered by staff
  • Low attendance at company events
  • Employee -vs- Leadership mindset
  • Declining customer loyalty and satisfaction

Prioritizing the definition and execution of your ideal Culture will pays off in many ways…

  • Morale will increase
  • Staff will willingly engage outside of their own responsibilities do more than the minimum
  • Everyone will understand and embrace the purpose of the company and actively work to support and promote it
  • Staff will feel empowered and engaged resulting in more thoughtful decisions to benefit both the company and the customers
  • Customers will benefit by doing business with a company where they feel they are part of an organization actively working to help them succeed in their responsibilities and goals
  • That Customer Experience will increase customer loyalty and generate referrals
  • Increased referrals and loyalty promote higher sales, resulting in higher profits, resulting in the successful longevity of the company.

It’s a beautiful thing…

Bridge the Gap of Customer Experience Perception

Long lumped in with Customer Service, the entire Customer Experience concept is finally being acknowledged as a weighty differential in the quest to build customer loyalty and increase sales.

Business Leaders everywhere must first understand there is likely a huge gap between the Customer Experience they believe their company delivers and the perception of that same experience their customers have as they work with them.

A recent paper by SuperOffice stated research shows that 80% of businesses believe they are providing excellent customer service. That sounds good, right? BUT – the customers of those same companies feel that only 8% of them deliver excellent customer service. Now THAT should keep you up at night.

While this research states customer service only, I firmly believe the responding customers lumped it in with the entire experience, as that is what motivates customers to return or leave.

Leaders typically look at their business goals, they put some programs and training in place to enhance both the experience and skills, they closely monitor what they think is important to the customers and in doing so… they believe their customers are benefitting from a better experience.

Let me be clear, the fact that they’ve even thought about how their customers perceive them is a great first step. Being aware that customers even have a perception or thought about the subject and wanting to improve on it is key.

But the real issue is they often lack the insight as to what their customers are really thinking… as well as what their employees are thinking.

The ultimate goal is to have as little gap as possible between all three components – Leadership, Staff, and Customer Perception. Currently, as the research indicates, the best of intentions among companies have fallen short.

So, what to do? Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and start again… with a PLAN.

I often find that leaders think they are on track because they WANT to be on track. No one deliberately decides to go off the rails. But to be sure, a focused analysis needs to be done.

This analysis can be as informal or formal as you’d like…

Meet as a leadership team and discuss the CEX your company delivers at a high level. Ask yourselves these questions…

  1. What do you feel you do well?
  2. What do you feel could be improved?
  3. What does your competition do differently? Are those differences perceived as good or bad?
  4. What do you feel needs to continue to be done or started to improve the CEX? Be as honest and candid as you can during these discussions. There is no blame to be placed, only a plan to improve for the future.

Now, these same questions need to be asked of your staff and your customers. The logistics may take some figuring, but this can be done in a variety of ways conducive to your setting.

My suggestion – Gather your staff and have them break into groups of 6-8 and document their answers to the four questions on one sheet. Analyze the answers from those groups and note the answers for trends and ideas.

Then do the same with customers. Focus groups, a cross section, industry-specific, etc… simply starting is key. Each specific situation may dictate a completely different model than another, but the key is to get the feedback from as many customers as possible to get a true feeling of how they feel your company works with them. Think TripAdvisor.

Next, examine the responses between the three groups – Leadership, Staff, and Customers – and note the disparity and similarities between answers.

All four areas are important…

1)  What you do well indicates what draws your customers back and where staff feels training, empowerment, and capabilities are strong.

2)  What needs to be improved are key indicators of what could cause your customers to leave and staff to become disengaged.

3)  Just because your competition does something differently does not mean your company should adopt their practice, but be aware enough to know if your customers feel those differences add value.

4)  Pay particular attention to what they feel needs to continue to be done. The buy-in here is easily granted because it is already being done and not viewed as “extra work.” Things to start can be prioritized based on a variety of considerations, but be sure to consider each one.

Going through this exercise takes some planning and time, but the insight gained will be worth every bit of effort. Getting into the minds of your staff and customers is the single best way to identifying and bridging the gap between leadership’s and customer’s perceptions of the Customer Experience being delivered.

The Best Way to Prepare Your Teams to Improve the Customer Service and Experience

Business leaders are really starting to jump on board the Customer Experience Bandwagon. And for good reason.  The Customer Experience is no longer just a great idea, it’s now becoming a strategic initiative for more and more companies across the board.

I am often asked how to go about proposing the new focus on the customer experience to the staff and employees within the organization. Managers and owners are often fearful of resistance or lack of buy in. This is to be expected. Most people resist the process of change, regardless of the promised outcome.

The Wrong Way to Prepare Your Teams:  

Start by telling them that customers have been complaining about shoddy service for quite some time. Show them how many customers your team has cost them due to the bad customer service they’ve received.

Tell them that they should feel lucky that they even have jobs in the first place and that they need to step up and do their part and be nice to customers. When they ask what you mean by “be nice to customers” means, tell them just to smile and be friendly.

Tell them that they are going to have to sit through boring trainings where someone is going to tell them what to do. They’d better pay attention to the trainer and do what they say or they are going to be looking for another job soon.

You may laugh at the above examples, but sadly, they are far more common than you’d like to believe.

The Right Way to Prepare Your Teams:

Explain to your teams that…

  • Most companies fail when they start to forget the customer is there SOLE reason for existence.
  • They forget that the customer is the single most important person in their company and take them for granted.
  • The smart and successful companies are now understanding the importance of the experience in the customer’s minds.
  • Customers today are looking to do business with companies that make it simple, pleasant, and memorable.
  • Customers are perfectly willing to spend up to 24% more with companies that deliver a better customer experience than the competitor down the road offering the EXACT same product or service.
  • Our company understands and values the customer and the fact that they have kept us in business since _____.
  • The company wants to invest in the teams to help develop the very best customer experience. We want to set ourselves apart by the service experience we deliver. We know that our customers have a choice of where to buy our product or service and we want them to select us simply because of the fact that we will work with them like no one else will.

Let them know what is coming up for them…

Over the next few months, we are going to be working together through some workshops and trainings to develop our skills in customer relationships.

  • We’ll learn what is important to our customers, what they want, what they expect, and what makes them buy.
  • We’ll discover how to manage their expectations and teach them how to get the most out of working with us.
  • We’ll fine tune our communications strategies to be sure they understand what we are intending to convey both verbally and written.
  • We’ll gain tools to help us work with customers when they are unhappy and turn the situation into one that they are impressed with the way we handled ourselves.
  • We’ll learn a little bit of customer psychology and get into the minds of our customers to help strengthen our relationships with them that we’ve worked so hard to build.
  • We’ll review the basics, become fabulous at the fundamentals, then build on those to become extraordinary.
  • We are so proud of the time and energy you’ve put into this business unit so far and we know that this will also help you feel so much more empowered in your day to day lives here.

Explain what you expect from them…

What is required of you?

  • An open mind.
  • The willingness to learn.
  • The ability to look at things from different perspectives.
  • The dedication to implement what you’ve learned.
  • The awareness that striving to improve does not mean you’ve been doing anything wrong, but that improving is always looking to make it even better.
  • The desire to do everything you can to serve our customers and our company to the very best of your abilities.
  • The courage to challenge the status quo.

Following these guidelines will dramatically improve the way that your team participates and works with you in your efforts to develop and improve your service and your culture.

Please click here for the podcast that further explains the above steps to gain more buy in from your teams.

You can listen to more episodes of the Transforming the Customer Experience Podcast series by clicking here.

Please share your thoughts below!

Transforming the Customer Experience Podcast

 

Stop Kidding Yourself! Are You Interested or Committed to Delivering Amazing Customer Service?

“I’d kill to have a golf swing like that!”

“I’d do ANYTHING to lift that much weight and look like that!”

We’ve all heard, and made, statements like this about something in either our personal or professional lives. But really, we are all a bunch of liars.

Yes, that sounds extreme, but let me explain… I’ll tie this in to Customer Service and the Customer Experience quickly.

That golf pro… Before he or she turned pro, they likely went to the course in the wee hours of the morning and practiced a full 90 minutes before going to their “job” only to return again after work, day in… day out. They sacrificed many moments that most of us take for granted to get them closer to their true goal… to be the absolute best they could be and turn pro.

That fabulous looking person in the gym (I’m not talking about the steroid pumpers)… They watch everything they eat. They train methodically and diligently.  They let the scoffing over their eating habits roll of their skin. They don’t judge those that eat differently, yet find themselves subject to ridicule because of their strictness to their own eating and training regimine. “Can’t you just let loose and have fun this ONE time?”

Many of us are not prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to be in the top 5% of anything… sport, physical fitness… or business success.

So, you say you deliver the best customer service and make the experience your customers have better than they can get anywhere else?  Really.

If I were to walk in your doors, or call your company, and ask the first five people I see what your company stands for and how it works with customers better than anyone else, I’d bet that I’d get five blank stares… and then some sheepish off the cuff made up answers.

So my question to you is this… Are you INTERESTED in focusing on your customers and creating a culture that is centered around them, or are you COMMITTED?

Interested companies gather a little information, talk about it from time to time, hire a consultant, might spend a little money for a workshop or training session, and believe that they are on the right track.

Committed companies do research, not only hire coaches – but DO THE WORK, talk about and focus on the customer experience incessantly, create a unified vision of the ideal customer experience, hire and train the right folks to support that ideal experience and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE for excellent customer service delivery, they get feedback from their customers as to how they are doing, etc.

So, the golf pro and the body builder, they have a goal. They have clarity. They have a vision of success. They. Do. The. Work.

Are you willing to step up and stop talking the talk? Walk the talk. Develop a culture focused on the most important person in your company – the CUSTOMER.  Not sure where to get started? Click here…

"/*" "/*"