Making hiring part of your Customer Experience (CX) plan to extend your reach, multiply your impact, and build a culture that enables your CX vision instead of eating it for breakfast.
I live in a neighbourhood in Toronto called “The Danforth”. Like other big cities that have “Little Italy,” “Little Portugal,” “Chinatown” etc. My family and I live in “Greek town.”
The main street goes for many blocks and is full of restaurants, coffee shops and small, one-of-a-kind stores. Each business is unique and, for the most, “customer focused.” For example:
- Employees at the coffee shop at the foot of the street greet me by name, always remember my order, and ask me how my husband and daughter are doing and to please say ‘hello’.
- The main grocery store may not know every customer by name, but they have extended hours, great delivery service, shelves that are stocked to reflect the preferences of the people who shop there, and they always have new items that somehow anticipate your needs.
- The kitchen supplies store is always stocked to the brim with the latest brands and every gadget imaginable. They have knowledgeable staff that can always help you find what you need. And if it’s not in the store, they will order it – fast.
- Then there is the new restaurant we tried the other day where the owner greets you himself, chats to you at your table to get to know you, and then suggests a selection of dishes and specials until he finds something you will love.
What I find interesting is that, while all of these businesses are successful in their approach to being customer focused, each of them approaches it in a different way. Not better or worse, just different. And I would wager that these various approaches to customers will inform the way each of these businesses seek out and hire new staff.
Defining “Customer First”
Whatever your company’s CX vision and culture are, when you bake it into your hiring plans in a deliberate fashion — when you’re clear about what exactly things like “customer focused,” “insights driven,” and “collaborative” mean in your company — getting everyone on the same page and paddling in the same direction is a lot easier!
At TELUS, customer experience is front and centre in how we hire. We talk about putting our customers first. On our Careers page, our “Customers First” message is the first thing you see:
Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do – listening and learning to deliver the best experience possible.
We set this expectation upfront with all potential Team Members because each and every one of us at TELUS, regardless of business unit, team or position, has performance objectives related to delivering our Customers First promise. Why? Because at TELUS, we don’t consider customer experience to be a “department” or a handful of events or activities.
Whether you see a TELUS billboard while you’re driving into the office in the morning, talk to a Sales rep, call customer service, use one of our products or services, receive a promotional offer in the mail, or take part in one of our community events, you are experiencing TELUS.
All of these things are a part of our customer experience, and each represents an opportunity for us to put our customers first. So, it really does take every single one of us to ensure that we deliver on our promise.
Rally the Teams
One of the steps we’ve taken to keep the message simple and to rally our teams to focus on the behaviours and actions that support our promise, is the development of our “Customers First Commitments”:
- We take ownership of every customer experience
- We work as a team to deliver on our promises
- We learn from customer feedback and take action to get better every day
- We are friendly, helpful and thoughtful
These commitments were developed in collaboration with team members across the country in response to the question, “How can we all bring our Customers First promise to life every single day?”
Resources like reference guides and webinars were developed to ensure Team Members understood the commitments, what they meant (down to actions and behaviours), and what the expectations are.
Now, translating your CX vision into a job description or candidate interview guide can seem challenging. But it’s worth it.
When you take it down to this level, you have a powerful way to keep your CX momentum going — without you having to be there to have the conversation with each new person or team.
Hiring to Support Our Vision
Here are some steps that TELUS teams have used in the past to translate our Customers First vision into a hiring plan.
1. Define success — what “great” looks like.
With a role or team in mind, discuss the following with a small group:
- What characteristics and attributes have been critical to our CX success to date? Passion? Adaptability? Customer focus? Collaboration? Analytical ability?
- What attributes do we need to see more of to ensure future success? Curiosity? ‘Fail fast’ mentality? Being entrepreneurial?
- What is our priority list of attributes? What are the musts?
2. Create a pitch!
With the same group and your list of priority attributes, have a go at writing a pitch – how would you convince someone to consider this role or team? Include who the team is, what you do, and why you do it. Next, cover what the prospective team member will do and how they will get it done (and why the right person will love it!).
Do any other attributes jump out at you now? Or was anything missed?
3. Say what you mean (and mean what you say!)
Customer advocate. Customer insights driven. Empathetic. Results oriented. Whatever you land on as key attributes for your dream hire, the next step is to be clear about what you mean.
Like “Customer Focused.” Do you expect your new hire to:
- Get to know customers on a personal basis, including their needs and preferences?
- Be highly skilled in data analytics to identify emerging unmet customer needs or preferences?
- Have extensive experience with a product or service so they can easily identify with customer questions?
- Have strong rapport-building skills that can make anyone feel welcome?
Or “Collaborative.” Do you expect them to:
- Collaborate with teammates? Other teams? Vendors?
- Or collaborate directly with customers on CX improvements?
Whatever it is that is key for your new hire, think: what is it that you want them to do, and how do you want them to do it? Be clear. Provide a detailed outline for each attribute with your group.
A colleague of mine told me about another company she used to work at. When she was interviewing, they used the word “dedicated” as one of the things they were looking for. They gave the example that existing members of the team chose their BlackBerrys (it was the early 2000’s) by how much noise the keys made because they expected to be answering email in the middle of the night. Good to know! 🙂
4. Partner up with your friends in HR
In the same way you might put together a briefing document for a communication piece, a marketing campaign, or a market research project, you now have the critical ‘briefing’ information to sit down with your friends in HR who can help you:
- Write the job description that will attract the person you’re looking for
- Build the interview questions that will ensure the person you hire has all the things you’re looking for
5. Build up your hiring skills (and keep them fresh)!
At TELUS we support our leaders with a Leadership learning curriculum, including at course on “Hiring Great People.” Leaders learn (or brush up on) the skills they need to ask effective interview questions that enable them to determine a candidate’s knowledge, skill and cultural fit for their specific team. Consider adding this kind of offering for your Teams.
So, if you haven’t already, make hiring a part of your overall CX planning. Just another way to extend your reach, multiply your impact, and ensure your company culture enables your CX vision instead of eating it for breakfast 🙂