To be successful in the age of the consumer, businesses must declare a commitment to customer-centricity. Organizations have done so in a variety of ways and often times it is by adding a line or two into their mission statement such as: “We put the customer at the heart of our business.”
However, issuing a proclamation to put the customer first is simply not enough. It’s critical for organizations to actually embed customer-centricity within their company processes and culture to ensure that every business decision is informed by the customers’ perspective and considers the impact of each decision on the customer. The question here is, how do you ensure that your teams not only have the proper insights available to make the right decisions, but how do you actually inspire them to change in a way that impacts company culture?
Change can be challenging, especially when asking potentially large groups of people to move out of their comfort zones. However, there are a number of ways to inspire employees to break out of the mold and transform the way they do things.
How do we take change viral?
As a customer experience professional, it’s important to know how to take change from inspiration to action. As we’ll discuss below, you’ll start with one trailblazer, but how does it spread from there? Additionally, how can you find a way for viral change to occur in a way that fits specifically with your business? Three approaches that may fit your business needs include, forgetting “command and control,” making it easy and building a network of champions.
1. Forget “Command and Control”
It’s tempting to try to “own” the customer experience process, but no one person or team can control the customer experience itself. It’s vital to put the insights into the hands of the people who can use it. This means providing as many people as possible in the organization with a window into the feedback generated through the Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. Think of it as potentially hundreds of mini control centers, all driven by a central hub. Each employee is responsible for using that insight to impact the customer experience in their area of control, in their own way, but aligned to a shared vision and ethos. When an action needs to be taken that’s beyond their remit, the control center should enable them to escalate issues to the right person.
2. Simplify the Approach
Data alone won’t drive the behavioral change that will really make a difference to the customer experience across all touchpoints. Place the focus on making it easy (and potentially fun) for people to change the way they respond to the insight they access. Ensure your teams know they have the autonomy to make decisions themselves without fear of being blamed if that decision wasn’t right.
Giving people a little nudge in the right direction so that it’s easy to change what they’re doing is a simple but effective way to empower and encourage employees to take change viral. Known as “nudge theory,” it’s just one way to encourage customer-facing teams to focus a bit more on the customer and decide who’d best benefit from a little more love.
3. Build a network of champions
Data is a great start to making a change, and nudging people will help further, but how do we achieve viral change? What you need is that first follower – someone to get behind and support the trailblazer, allowing others to see that something is beginning to happen.
To do so, build a network of champions around the business. These champions can not only answer questions and help to ensure the value of the program is understood, they can also become the second trailblazer or first supporter. If they begin to adopt the behaviors you’re looking to cultivate, and most importantly, talk about those behaviors to show they work, then people will begin to join in. The most important step here is to choose the right people. Bravery and (slight) wackiness are just a few of the traits to look out for when choosing a partner (or partners). However, above all, they need to be people who the rest of the teams can relate to. Ensure they’re like you, can do the job that you do, know the reality and are making the change.
Asking people to change their behaviors can be an uphill battle. To confidently face the battle head-on, ensure you have a strong army, your “network of champions,” behind you. Make it easy for employees to change and forget the typical pecking order of the customer experience. Through added customer insight, you’ll soon have a large group of people supporting each other and transforming the company to mirror those customer-centric lines in your mission statement.