About a month ago I sat recounting a phenomenal experience that my family had. The organization had ticked all the boxes and more and had achieved all the goals of good CX. How had they achieved all of this? What is their secret? It dawned on me… The secret lies within.
A CX Parable
My two young children got Covid. Although they had mild symptoms, I decided to register them with a local community wellness program. The volunteer, charity-based organization that runs the program dropped off thermometers and an oximeter and then, for 10 days, a young guy assigned to us, called us each afternoon to check the kids’ vitals and ask general questions to assess their health.
A few days later, my children each received a delivery of a colorful bunch of balloons and a fluffy toy bunny personalized with their names embroidered on the ear from the organization. All for the purpose of congratulating them on surviving Covid. My children were so excited! It made them feel proud and special and cared for. We were blown away and told all our family and friends about it. Then we made a donation to the organization in gratitude for going the extra mile. And just like that, we had become brand ambassadors and contributed to their bottom line. A home run for CX strategy!
Hopes for a “normal” 2021 were dashed with the emergence of a second wave and worse, another strain. We continue to fumble for the right move, the right tools. Our minds a buzz with protocols, vaccine updates and political misdemeanors, questions, open schools, close schools, work online, meet in person, and breathe…..
Mindfulness is a growing institution promoting concepts like consciousness, wellbeing, personal growth, the higher self and teaching us that the secret to happiness and a well-balanced life lies within.
The same can be said of an organization. A happy organization where employees experience wellbeing and align with company values, where customers have a blissful experience, begins with the inner value….The corporate culture.
What Is Corporate Culture And Why Is It Important?
Corporate culture refers to your underlying beliefs, values, and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of your organization. It is the shared “how and why” within an organization.
Corporate culture defines behaviours and how employees communicate with customers. As a result, it impacts employee mindset and guides action, and these in turn will affect CX. Without it, employees have no guiding beacon and interactions become transactional rather than aimed at building long term relationships. In consequence, experiences are cold and lack emotion and without emotion there is no connection and no memorable customer experience.
Customer experience is the holistic perception your customers have of their experience with your company or brand throughout all aspects of the customer journey.
Positive customer experience means better business results. A happy customer results in greater retention, loyalty and brand advocacy. It means customers stay longer, spend more, and recommend to others. We already all know that 88% of customers place their highest level of trust in word of mouth recommendations from people they know. (invespcro.com). If high retention rates, lifelong customer value and new leads from referrals is important to you, then creating positive customer experience is important to you. (business2community.com)
Good Customer experience is more than offering a great product or service. It’s more than thinking up the next great experience offering, continually chasing new customer needs. Usually, companies that have a successful CX offering, have it entrenched in their culture. It’s the pulse in the organization.
Involving The Whole
Just as mindfulness and consciousness involve the whole self – both the physical body and its environment as well as our inner thoughts, feelings and sensations, great CX must be rooted in every part of your organization. It’s not only restricted to customer facing departments. But rather, an overall awareness of the value of CX should be an integral part of corporate identity.
In order to achieve this, there needs to be a shift away from what is convenient for the organization to what is needed by the customer. This requires empathy. A true deep understanding of people. The people that work in your organization and the people on the receiving end of your product and/or service offering.
Becoming a customer-first company is a long term strategy that needs to be leadership driven and filter into all departments of the organization. Importantly, leadership needs to empower employees to deliver for customers.
How To Get It Right
When you decide it’s time for a cultural transformation that will enhance the experience you offer to your customers. Consider the following:
1. Collective Consciousness
Your corporate culture encompasses your company’s purpose. It includes the promises you make to your customers and how you deliver on these promises to create the ultimate experiences for your customers throughout their customer journey. It is therefore essential, that every member of your organization is knowledgeable about these and is empowered to uphold and deliver on them. This will give rise to a collective consciousness within your organization. On the other hand, failing to build a collective consciousness will inevitably lead to promising one thing while delivering something else which in turn leaves customers disappointed and losing faith in your brand.
In order to establish a clear collective consciousness, you should have the following in place:
- A CX-specific mission statement – this is different to your corporate mission statement. It should be customer focused and internalized throughout your company.
- A well designed customer journey – This should also be internalized so that everyone including non-client facing employees in your organization should understand their role in delivering this.
- A well-designed supplier journey – remember that your efforts cannot start and stop with the customer or you will never really achieve your goals. All stakeholders need to be part of the plan.
With these in place it is crucial that they do not just become sign-posts on the wall. Instead, they need to be integrated into the everyday lives of the employee.
Leaders must continually communicate the corporate culture, CX mission statement, CX goals and customer journey to all employees so that it becomes real. in addition, employees in turn must feel free to express what is working and or not working in this regard. In other words,only through communication and over-communication can CX goals be achieved. Furthermore, discussions around customer surveys/feedback, pain points and successes should be included in regular team meetings.
3. As Within, So Without
What you reflect on the outside, you must live on the inside. This means that your employees need to align with your corporate culture. A positive, healthy internal culture will reflect on the outside and impact your customer experience. Many companies try teach employees to be considerate of their customers but they fail to be the same about their employees and other stakeholders.
When your employees feel engaged and cared for, they transfer this sense of care to customers. When employees see and feel that integrity is valued, they in turn hold up these standards when engaging with customers. To clarify, good culture is key to great CX. This means that your EX should drive your CX
A customer experience culture is characterized by an open environment that is authentic and consistent, and an empowered workforce that is engaged, innovative, flexible and focused on solving customer pain points.
4. Take action
It’s not enough to have a CX mission or establish a customer journey. You need to actually action these ideas. Here are some ideas of how to achieve this:
- Establish experience programs that focus on the customer but go beyond that, to the employee.
- Make everyone accountable for quantifiable CX metrics such as NPS or C-SAT
- Recognize and appreciate positive CX efforts of individual staff members. This makes them feel appreciated and enhances their employee experience.
- Incorporate CX into weekly staff meetings where you can go through customer surveys, solve customer pain points, celebrate CX successes. Perhaps inviting customers to meetings will be time well spent as they will highlight issues that really matter faster than hours of internal debate can achieve.
5. Culture Isn’t Built In A Day
It takes time and effort and regular iterative changes based on feedback about what is or is not working. Consider CX culture as a scale. Identify where your organization lies. What are your strengths and Where are your growth opportunities in terms of CX?
Customer needs are dynamic and changing. Therefore your company needs to be future-focused while actioning in the present. Today’s customers are digital customers.
Covid -19 has changed the way we work and live. It has changed the way we engage with our customers. It has fast tracked us into a digital online space. A lot of CX happens online. Digital has also shifted the goal post in terms of customer expectations. Customers expect more from you than they did yesterday, which puts even more pressure on employees.
It is therefore important to strengthen your digital presence and ensure that your customers have a positive digital experience with your organization. Ensure that you engage the right technology and tools.
- Include insights from all touch points including social media
- Use SEO to Improve content discovery for you customers so that their experience of searching for you online is easy and successful.
- Optimize digital usability and streamline all processes. Customers want to be able to resolve problems without necessarily needing to contact call centres. A modern convenient personalized communication platform such as SMS or WhatsApp is a better option in today’s times.
- Ensure that employee experience is enhanced with the right tech and training to achieve business and CX goals.
- Implement technology faster
Culture is not always easy to implement in a sustainable way and few companies actually get it right. It requires strategy, mindset, purpose and commitment. Interact is here to help you strategically define your culture incorporating your EX and CX goals with the objective of becoming a winning customer-first organization. With our focus on digital and technology, we can steadily guide you in the right direction to satisfy customer needs in our very much digital world.
Authour: Yael Benjamin at Interact RDT