Customer-Centric Behavior Doesn’t Happen by Accident


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In a previous article, I identified four CX shortcuts that organizations need to avoid if they want to truly become customer-centric. Sustainable CX success requires putting in the work to embed the right mindsets and behaviors into the organization. And behaviors – specifically employee behaviors – is where I want to focus now.

Shortcut to Avoid: Not clearly defining the employee behaviors that support your brand promises.

As much as we might wish for it, there is no wand that a CX professional can wave to magically instill in employees how they need to act in order to deliver on the organization’s CX strategy, no matter how snappy the CX slogan is or how inspiring the CEO’s kick-off message was. Instead, the organization needs to use its brand as a blueprint to define the promises it needs to keep with customers to live up to their experience expectations. But that’s not enough – CX teams need to get specific about what keeping those promises look likes in action by employees in their assorted roles across the organization.

Those of you who have worked with me know I can talk for hours on this subject. I’ll spare you the dissertation and instead offer a few of the most critical steps to take to avoid this shortcut:

Define behaviors with employees. One of the most frequently skipped steps when rolling out brand promises is defining the actual behaviors that represent those promises across employee roles. Yes, it definitely can be a lot of work. But the CX or HR team doesn’t have to do this work alone. When rolling out its refreshed CX vision, one technology company engaged employee representatives from across the company – both customer-facing and ‘behind the scenes’ – to define how they delivered on that vision in their roles. The CX team used that input to define sets of behaviors describing what great customer experience looks like by role for its wider roll-out campaign.

Identify blockers to desired behaviors with employees. Employees can not only help you understand how they can keep brand promises in their role; they can also help identify what will get in their way. Organizations are often so focused on what new activities need to be introduced, they sometimes overlook the policies, processes, or tools that might need to be updated or eliminated in order for employees to be able to do the right thing. Whether you are at the start of your organization’s CX journey or well on your way, be sure to take time to regularly check in with employees to identify the obstacles getting in the way of keeping promises with customers.

Support employees with training. Any organizational change requires that some employees do some things differently. The necessitates not only training when introducing the new behaviors but also reinforcing that training beyond the initial introduction. One effective way to introduce new ways of working and sustaining them over time is to involve employees as part of the training process. One organization organized CX Learning Sessions where employees participated on panel discussions and shared personal stories of what actions they had taken to support the CX transformation that was underway. The stories made the new behaviors very real and provided specific examples that other employees could model themselves.

Get managers involved. Organizations often overlook this important group of influencers when introducing something new, when instead they should be activating managers’ involvement as the bridge between the vision of senior leaders and the day-to-day work of their teams. This involvement can range from using managers as part of the roll-out process – including engaging them through a “train-the-trainer” approach to prepare them to introduce brand promises and behaviors to their teams – to sharing employee feedback with managers about what’s working and not working. Managers can often provide additional context to that feedback and take immediate steps with their team to work through pain points or confusion. They are also the first in line to find ways to remove obstacles impeding their team’s ability to keep promises with customers.

Celebrate individual and team success. Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated, so it’s important to recognize employees who demonstrate behaviors that live up to your brand promises. Recognition can come in many forms. A few of my favorites include peer-to-peer recognition programs that encourage employees to look for desired behaviors by their peers and celebrating team accomplishments that support keeping brand promises, especially teamwork that brings together customer-facing and internal teams to make a positive difference for a customer.

It’s very hard, if not impossible, for an organization to have engaged customers if its employees aren’t engaged in its customer-centric culture. So, while no shortcut is a good shortcut, this is one I feel is especially important to avoid. To reinforce that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that captures the important relationship between employee behaviors and CX, and why doing the work to clearly define employee behaviors and ensure they are embraced across the organization is so important to anyone seeking to achieve sustainable CX success.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” ~ Walt Disney

Aimee Lucas
I am a customer experience and employee engagement researcher, advisor, speaker, and trainer. I focus my work on guiding clients on how to optimize their employee and customer experience management programs, identifying and publishing EX and CX best practices, and shaping the future of experience management (XM). I have over 16 years of experience improving service delivery and transforming the customer experience through people development and process improvement initiatives.


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