Over the last few months, I have been exploring in detail my perspective on
seven ‘tips’ that will enable any organisation to become genuinely
customer centric. Each article has taken me on a personal journey, delving into my own
experiences of putting into practice (with varying degrees of success), the
things I continue to share with, teach and guide, practitioners and clients
alike, all around the world.
As I have committed my experiences, thoughts and knowledge to writing,
several common themes and ‘connections’ have risen to the surface. For
example, in writing about
‘How to Ensure Customer Experience is a Key Element of Your Business Strategy’
last month, I made the point that there is little benefit to attempting to
engage your people in better understanding the role they play in improving
the customer experience, if customer experience is not actually part of the
business strategy in the first place.
Another example is the subject of this, my penultimate article, in the
series. If I point back again to last month’s article, there is little
point having customer experience as a key element of your business
strategy, or indeed having a strategy at all, if your people do not even
know what the strategy is, or that it even exists! If you have an
aspiration to lead or be part of a sustainably customer centric
organisation, then you must master the art of COMMUNICATION!
“If you want to be sustainably customer centric, you must tell everyone
that is the case – and then tell them again – and again – and again.
Communication is such a vital component – the more creative and
inventive you are in getting the message across, the better!”
You quite simply cannot ‘over’ communicate with anything
that is core to your business AND customer strategy. If you want your
people to buy in to your strategy; to support it; to be advocates of it;
they need to know what it is and what it means for them – what you
want/need them to actually do. If you have the intention of becoming a more
customer centric business – you need to tell your people. Not once. Not in
a poster on a wall that quickly becomes a ‘dust gatherer’ – but
continuously – indefinitely.
Over the years, I have communicated the importance of Customer Experience
to the companies I have worked within almost to the point of irritation (I
am sure there are many who may agree!!) – I have done so because as a
leader committed to helping the organisations I work with to genuinely
achieve their customer centric goals, I know how important it is to
continuously instill the message – instill it until the message has become
embedded into the psyche of those you are communicating to – until mind
sets have been fundamentally shifted.
Communicating the Customer Experience needs to be continuous, innovative
and engaging. I and brilliant teams of people have done some quite radical
things to get the message across. In 2010, two of my amazing colleagues
came up with a communication campaign that we ended up calling ‘Feet in the
Street’. Working for an online retailer, we were very conscious of the fact
that many employees had never actually had the opportunity to ‘see, touch
and feel’ the experience our customers were having daily.
So, to bring it
to life in the most effective way possible, we re-created the customer
journey in the centre of our head office building, with an enormous red
stiletto shoe as the centrepiece, foot prints on the floor led our people
through real life displays of the four stages of our customer journey. It
was brilliant (even if I do say so myself) and a fantastic way of keeping
Customer Experience ‘front and centre’ in the minds of our people.
If a continuous stream of messages is not translating its way across all
floors, corridors, smartphones, tablets and PCs, then it is unlikely that
the intent to become customer focused will become a reality. There is no
right or wrong way to communicate – it just needs to be consistent,
engaging and to a degree fun. Last year I judged the inaugural Gulf
Customer Experience Awards in Dubai. One entrant, the Dubai Islamic Bank
showed how powerful the right level of communication can be.
Every member of staff in the organisation – from the CEO down – wears a
badge that represents their focus on the Customer. The Customer 1st badge
is worn on the left-hand side of their bodies – close to their heart – it
is powerful stuff. This type of ‘internal marketing’ continues with the
regular distribution of Customer 1st branded ‘treats’ – from chocolates to
games. The purpose is to continually remind everyone of the importance of
Failure to communicate effectively will have consequences. Lack of
communication can lead to the following:
- Employee disengagement and demotivation
- Misinformed customers and colleagues
- Various stakeholders making assumptions and drawing their own conclusions
to certain scenarios
- Expectations failing to be met
- Unnecessary cost
- Dissatisfied customers
- Financial under performance
The key to these examples is that with good, honest, sincere communication,
they are completely AVOIDABLE. If you keep your plans a secret from the
very people who allow your business to exist (customers and colleagues),
then the likely result will not be a pretty one.
Fundamentally, failing to communicate well and often with PEOPLE is also a
potential sign of a lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of those very
people – almost a lack of HUMANITY!
The truth of the matter is, that unless you are able to get EVERYONE in
your organisation working together to a common purpose to achieve a
business benefit, it is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve an improvement in the
Customer Experience. It is impossible to even deliver the experience that
is intended. Unless everyone knows exactly what the common PURPOSE is – it
is impossible for people to collaborate to achieve it!! It is not
So, if you are reading this thinking any of the following…
- I cannot remember the last time my leaders explained what is happening in
- I have no idea what direction our business is going in
- Why does function X never involve me in decision making?
- Why are my objectives different to other functions?
- No-one ever asks me what I think
- Why does no-one listen to us or our customers?
- Why do they keep blaming us?
… then you may be working in an organisation that is missing an essential
customer centric ingredient that is required (with others)
if your business aspires to serve up continuously improving customer
experiences. The power of communication must never be underestimated!