Customer and Employee Experience: Can’t we just hang inspirational posters?


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As I’ve often written and spoken about, we as professionals in our respective industries and companies need to come to terms with the opinion that employees, our human capital create our company’s customer experience. As a collective of individuals, employees set the cadence and tone of their customer interactions, decide when and how to empathize, agree to break down previous organizational challenges such as inward facing silos or product centric thinking and truly align with customers and delight them.

Highly engaged employees who are empowered to truly serve their customers and who have the right mindset of how to are often rewarded with customer delight, loyalty and profits for their employer. Conversely, those that are simply going through the motions in their customer interactions are often transparent in their detachment and will soon be seen for who and what they are by both coworkers and worse, customers.

This holds true for all employees, whether customer facing in their roles or those confined to what we’ll call “experience enablement” roles in the back offices. We are all responsible for positive customer experiences and delight, and the degree of our sincerity in our engagement and empowerment determine the likelihood we’ll deliver on the promise of great customer experience and create lasting, favorable memories in our customers’ minds.

What should a company and its leadership do if it recognizes a large amount of organizational misalignment and employee detachment?

Sadly, in my work over the years helping companies to develop customer centric strategies and delightful customer experiences, I’ve often been asked whether they should simply hang inspirational posters in their workplace to motivate their employees and drive them to new and presumably higher levels of satisfied engagement. While having strong internal transparency around company strategy and direction, communication programs if handled incorrectly or used as a stand-alone tool without going deeper will only be putting lipstick on the pig and stand to drive further detachment and potentially worse, a resentful workforce and culture.

Allow me to be as clear as possible about this, posters and other marketing campaign work are not the answer.

Instead, if our goal is to truly create an empowered customer centric culture and empower our employees to rise to the occasion in how they engage customers as well as one another, may I promise a simple and seemingly obvious success formula but one that is too often overlooked by most?

First, we need to ensure that as a leadership team we are not simply paying lip service to the notion of the truly empowered employee. Too often company leadership say they want employees to successfully own the experiences they create, but deflate the argument as soon as its made by pulling the rug out from under them by instilling a culture of fear, top heavy decision making, or even a lack of systematic recognition for those who succeed. If our employees are fearful to rise up for fear of being reprimanded or worse, or we hold such tight control over our people that the notion of empowerment is for the few at the top of our companies and not for the many, or we do not recognize and reward successful teammates showing creativity in how they engage and delight, our organization will simply not succeed in its desired outcomes.

Instead, we must agree to loosen the reigns a bit in our command and control approach to management, demonstrate trust of our teams, incentivize and recognize successful attitudes and behaviors and agree that at the end of the day we all have a common mission around customer delight and a common set of tools with which to offer it.

Second, we must understand what is currently holding our people back from already being able to delight their customers in each and every interaction. We must understand the challenges the front office as well as those who support them face in their daily work at each and every touch point in the enterprise. While we can certainly prioritize touch points based on customer validation, touch points are often little more than people and given almost every customer interaction is really a personal exchange of trust and delight, having a deep and actionable understanding of the daily challenges our people face will allow us to begin to address them.

Gaining a better understanding of what’s holding our people back however, while valuable may expose unpleasant truths, because in more than a few cases, we’ll learn that we as a management team are sometimes to blame, either directly in how we engage and empower, how we measure and compensate, how we educate and support, or how we ourselves lead by example, and we need to be ready to face these truths should they arise.

Finally, we need to communicate, and not simply brand our employee and customer experience. It’s not about a campaign with posters and water bottles, as much as its communicating with full transparency the standards to which we want each of our employees to perform, consistently.

This communication program is not intended to be a heavy-handed operations manual written by operations management gurus as much as its meant to be a guide for all of us to understand what’s most important, what my guidelines are in the delivery of the important parts of the desired experience, and to inspire me to deliver on the new promise of customer centricity daily.

If, in aggregate we as a management team have successfully aligned around customer centric strategies and have agreed to strive for a truly empowered culture, coupled with walk-the-walk approach with agreement to discover and address challenges that are holding our teams back from delivering on the experiences we truly want, and have done a good job of communicating those standards in a consistent, easy to understand and inspiring manner, then sure, hang all the posters you want, but doing so without those other building blocks will in my opinion have the opposite effect and outcome and do more damage than good to our customer and employee experience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Mandel
Marc Mandel is a Regional Sales Director at Allegiance, Inc.


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