When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. So, if your brand identity is playful and your copy has a witty voice, your space design is less formal. In other words, your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
What Role Does Culture Play in Customer Experience?
The texture of organizational culture is made of the behaviors and ways your employees communicate with customers. Without it as a guide, employees are left to their own devices. And the delivery of good customer experiences is left to luck. Without a defined culture, your employees tend to be more transactional. They do not create interactions that grow into relationships.
Think about it. If nobody tells you HOW to do something, you will think that the most important thing is just to get the thing done. The how is not even part of your thought process. The result of this is customer experiences that feel cold – experiences that do not make a connection with the customer.
Without that connection, there is no emotion. And without emotion, there is no memorable customer experience. You need to consider how you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand. Now determine how you deliver those feelings. You don’t! Your employees do.
Now, how do you make sure your employees deliver the right feelings? By making them feel the SAME feelings. That is culture! When your employees feel cared for, they care for your customers. When they feel integrity is nonnegotiable, they hold the highest moral standards. And when your organization has a defined culture, you trigger this positive domino effect that reaches employees and customers.
All Memorable Brands Have a Defined Culture
Organizational culture is the factory for the feelings you want your customers to have when they interact with your brand. It is not possible to do CX right without a defined culture in place. All memorable brands have defined cultures that are over-communicated to their employees and customers. Disney, JetBlue, Ritz Carlton, Zappos, and other hospitality-driven brands all have vibrant, recognizable cultures. So, if you want to join those brands and make your customers happy, you need to start by defining yours. Mission statements are not enough.
If your organization lacks a defined culture, it seeps into every department, at every level. Without a defined culture, there are no hiring standards for culture. When people are hired primarily for their hard skills, and culture is not part of the decision process, it is impossible to drive certain culture-connected behaviors. For example, if you have a defined culture and CARING is one of your values, then, as part of the hiring process, you assess how your candidate’s score against that.
If INNOVATION is one of your guiding principles, you look for risk takers and for people who are comfortable making decisions with limited information. If HR does not know what to hire for, there can be no active belief system in the organization.
The Culture Communication Problem
Last, but definitely not least, without defined culture your communications department risks demoralizing employees without knowing it. Culture shapes the language your organization uses to explain who and what you are, and how you want customers to feel. Note the difference between simple terms like “support center” and “headquarters,” or “staff” and “employees” vs. “team members” or “brand ambassadors.” Look more closely at terms like “agent” vs. “happiness engineer” or “concierge.”
A defined culture brings a vocabulary with it. Words matter. They are the tissue of culture and they need to be used with intent.
Unfortunately, like customer experience, culture is hard to implement in a sustainable way. The good news is we are here for that! If you aspire to build a brand that delivers exceptional customer experience, reach out to us. We will be happy to guide you through the maze of culture building!