A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear members of the Zappos team speak at a conference. You could tell by the way people were sitting forward in their seats, the number of hands that went up for questions, and the general chatter afterwards that people were totally enamoured with them and their approach to customer experience – in particular, their focus on “culture.”
What surprised me were the conversations among attendees that followed the session.
People seemed a little starry-eyed and wistful. They used words like “lucky” and said things like “can you even imagine getting to work somewhere like that?”
It was as if people thought there was some kind of magic involved or some unexplainable reason that their culture is the way it is, instead of seeing it as a choice – the result of deliberate, focussed planning and thoughtful, disciplined execution.
It’s not uncommon to think of culture as “squishy”, but thankfully it’s not. And it isn’t solely dependent on chance or luck. In fact, there are some very tangible ways to build a culture that enables your CX vision.
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So, in 2018, take your CX strategy to the next level. Build a CX culture, not a program. You’ll get where you want to go faster, attain your goals and sustain your achievements with less effort, and enjoy yourself more.
Here are 6 ways to get started.
1. Make Friends with HR
Your friends in HR are the often-overlooked-but-key partners in what ultimately becomes described as your “culture.” They have the relationships, systems, tools, processes, networks, and communication channels that ultimately shape behaviour in the workplace – in other words, they have significant influence over what people do and how they get it done.
Invite them to share with you the following:
- The story you share with potential hires – how is your CX story being told?
- The welcome new hires receive – is their role in your CX strategy clear?
- Objective setting & compensation – are they aligned with the behaviours and outcomes you need?
- Development – how do people learn how to deliver against your strategy?
- Recognition – what kinds of recognition, celebration and promotion practices are in place to reinforce the execution of your strategy?
Your friends in HR are key to ensuring your CX vision is realized and sustained.
2. Hire Deliberately
Whatever your company’s CX vision and desired culture are, bake them into your hiring plans in a deliberate fashion — be clear about what things like “customer focused,” “insights driven,” and “collaborative” mean in your company (because it is not the same for everybody!).
Getting everyone on the same page, paddling in the same direction and staying on course are all easier when you’re aligned from the start.
3. Be generous with the seats at your CX table
In Customer Experience, the bar is always moving a little higher, so generating and applying new ideas is essential. However, as generating a constant stream of new thinking is not an easy task, make it easier on yourself and be generous with how you fill the seats at your CX table.
Invite some of the unusual suspectsto join you – Finance, HR, Real Estate, Legal, or Procurement, for example. Add to this a variety of thinking styles, generations, genders, career stages, and perspectives and see what happens
You’ll gain invaluable input and better ideas, more engagement, more hands to do the work, and ultimately help to build an organization with a strong CX culture not just a program or team with an expiry date.
4. Rally support and commit to planning
Creating compelling, continuous communication of your CX vision, goals, progress and next steps is critical.
Why? Because people are busy. And you need these busy people – the great people in your organization – to come together to make it a reality every single day. But they can’t do that if they don’t know about it, and they won’t do it if they don’t connect with it.
So if you haven’t already, consider a communications plan to support your CX vision. Help people connect to the bigger picture – the what, the why and the how. Instead of having to chase people down for support, you may just find them lining up to help!
5. Keep it human
Just because companies have better technology, more data and better analytics than ever before doesn’t mean we can lose sight of the human element. We have to remember that CX is short for “Customer Experience”, and that we have to keep the customers – the people – front and centre.
When you help the people in your organization get beyond the charts, graphs and dashboards to connect with customers as people, you start to build an experience that is as engaging for your team as it is for your customers. It’s not about a program anymore, it’s a way of a doing business. It’s why you do what you do. And that is when the magic happens.
6. Keep Learning
Client-centric. Innovative. Collaborative. Agile. No one is going to say they don’t want to be or work this way. But enthusiasm and good intentions don’t necessarily mean people know how to do these things or to do them well.
When you invest in the ongoing development and learning of the people in your organization, you help ensure they have the knowledge, skills and abilities you need to make your CX vision and culture a reality today and well into the future.
So, in 2018 take your CX strategy to the next level. Use some or all of the six strategies. Build a CX culture, not a program. I guarantee you’ll get where you want to go faster, maintain your achievements with less effort, and enjoy yourself more.