By James Barrett, October 16, 2014 at 9:15 am
Have you seen the viral video making the rounds about Sherlock, the adorable and very energetic dog “employed” by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, who finds passengers’ lost items and returns them to their owners? When a KLM crew-member comes across an item — a child’s stuffed animal, a phone, a laptop — the highly trained canine retrieves it and puts his Beagle nose to work to hunt down the owner and return the lost belonging. You can imagine the delight of air travelers passing through KLM’s hub in Amsterdam as the quintessential real-time customer service agent runs past them to reunite a little girl and her favorite pookie-bear, the pup’s enthusiasm for delighting customers and making their experience with the airline a great one evident by his floppy ears and wagging tail.
What great customer service, you say, what a terrific ambassador of an airline devoted to delivering on their promises to their patrons. “An airline providing a prompt and useful service in a way that warms passengers’ hearts,” said a Washington Post article.
Unfortunately, and sadly, Sherlock is but a marketing ploy — but a really good one. KLM doesn’t employ a Beagle named Sherlock trained to find and return lost belongings. In reality, Sherlock is merely part of KLM’s campaign to showcase its Lost & Found program, which uses customer data such as seat number and location, phone numbers and public social media details to get forgotten personal possessions back into the hands of wayward travelers, with a success rate of about 80 percent.
If you’ve ever lost something on a flight or had your luggage sent to Albania when you were really going to Albany, you know that most of the time the best customer service in world won’t make you happy. But KLM boasts that it sometimes returns an item to a no-doubt grateful passenger before they even know it’s gone (now that’s real-time!).
Sure, Sherlock will put his paw prints on your heart, but you should also see him as a symbol for real-time customer service done right. The viral video — ok, it’s an advertisement —has garnered more than 12 million hits on YouTube alone since its release just a little more than two weeks ago. People loved it, yes, for the snugly Beagle, but also for the face (albeit a canine face) that the airline is out to put on its customer service efforts. It’s a heart-warming turn-on to know that an organization would be innovative and committed to training and engaging a creature to do what it does best to help others (aka, customers). (BTW, beagles and other canines use their noses in in many service roles, including cancer and drug detection, so the premise of lost-and-found seems quite plausible.)
Still, having caught scent of the fact that the video was actually just a marketing pitch, many media outlets semi-derided poor Sherlock as a “fake,” a “lie,” a “PR stunt,” even saying “we can’t trust anyone anymore, not even the puppy in that KLM video.” Why the letdown and sarcasm? Simple, because we want to believe an organization would go to the inventive lengths to put the omniscient canine nose to work in the name of customer service, that they would endeavor to both serve and delight their stakeholders. We want to believe that great customer service is possible!
So, do your agents have a nose for real-time customer service? Giving them this sixth-scent (yes, pun intended) means that they have access to all the information they need. It means that you have you devoted time and resources to their training, to make sure that they can delight your customers and give them what they want, when they want it. Make sure you have more “Sherlock’s” on your workforce: ready, willing and able to deliver real-time service.
Let me begin by saying that it makes perfect sense to have a knowledge base for multi-channel agents, with some specific standard information to copy and paste during written customer interactions. Some agents are using this effectively and others, not so much. A few even end up creating really bad “moments of truth” for their customers.
This written exchange in a chat works nicely:
Customer: “How do I reset my password?”
Agent (pulling info, copying and pasting or having auto-response technology): “I’ll be glad to help you (pasted info here) In order to reset your password, please….”
That makes perfect sense. A clear-cut response to the simple question asked.
Where we get in trouble with our agents using canned messages and responses is when the customer asks something more detailed. The agent may not read these involved messages completely or make assumptions that make their response inappropriate and frustrating for the customers.
For instance this email or chat example:
Customer: I received a notice that my account has been billed a $___ fee for late payment.
I sent in my payment on July 1st and I have a copy of my cleared check. I’m not sure why I’m being billed and I’m not happy to have this charge when I paid on time.
Agent (pulling info, copying and pasting or having auto-response technology): For this type of account, if your amount due isn’t paid by the 15th of each month, you will be billed a late fee of $_____.
Customer: WHAT ???? I just told you I paid it. I didn’t ask what my late fee was.
Far-fetched? Unfortunately not, as I’ve seen these type of transcripts and have been a victim of the “bad copy and paste” syndrome myself.
Agent training and coaching is critical of course but we may also encouraging these errors ourselves when we tell our teams to “hurry up” and get to the next call, email, chat interaction, etc. Multi-channel agents often tell me they feel pressured to get to the next customer so they look for ways to cut corners.
Are we creating copy and paste solutions that are vague or even inaccurate without constant review and updating? These will become quick-fix bandages for the rushed agent balancing 5 to 6 chat interactions and not sure where they left off when they return to chat number one.
Our need for speed to meet business revenue goals may be causing more complaints and actually lengthier interactions while the agent frantically tries to fix the errors that came from not listening completely or reading carefully what the customer is asking about.
So what makes our emails, chats and written interaction with customers more engaging and positive?
- Make sure your emails and chats have the right tone: Your written correspondence has a tone, too. Friendly but not too personal should be the goal. Personalize with customer name. Courtesy words as simple as please and thank you are needed.
- Multi-chat overload may cause multi-stress: Studies have shown that not everyone can multi-task successfully. An agent who does well with a single email at a time or one call focus may not have the ability to juggles several chats at the same time. Watch for multi-tasking stress signs including chats that are focused on speed and not the best experience for the customer
- Respond with empathy: I emailed a question to a company regarding their travel webcams and asked why a certain landmark wasn’t viewable. Their response was a curt: “We don’t man this 24 hours a day.” Did it answer my question? Sure. Was it pleasant and empathetic sounding? No.
Knowledge bases with copy and paste or other auto response methods are fabulous tools for our busy chat and email agents, but only when used with common sense. Multi-channel agents must have a clear understanding of what the customer needs and respond accordingly and positively.
As managers, we must provide them the time necessary to personalize, engage and create a positive impression in their written customer interactions as well as their verbal ones.
By Shep Hyken, October 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm
Do you ever get the feeling that some business’ customer service goal is to keep the customer from coming back?
Sometimes, it is an employee’s lousy attitude that makes you feel unwelcome and unwanted. Or perhaps it is some other type of poor service, but the end result is that the customer has no desire to return. It’s not likely that this was the company’s customer service goal.
As I teach about customer service techniques, tools and tactics through books, articles and speaking engagements, I try to impart to companies how to keep customers coming back time and time again. There are times, however, that you might actually have the goal of not having the customer come back. Or, to state it another way, there are times when you don’t want the customer to need to come back.
If a customer calls with a complaint or service issue, you want to resolve the issue and make the customer happy. In this case, he or she doesn’t need to return for the same reason. There is a name for this – first-call resolution – and it is the goal of many customer service support centers. Some companies take it one step further. In the process of resolving the customer’s original problem, they ask questions to try to predict any future problems the customer may encounter and then solve them as well. If they do their job well, the customer won’t need to call back.
This approach can work for other types of businesses as well; it’s not just limited to complaints or call centers. Take Ace Hardware, for example. [Read Shep's previous blog post, Customer Service is More than Just Being Nice, for more about how Ace creates amazing customer service.] If you go into an Ace store to buy a can of paint for a home project, the sales associate will try to ensure that you go home with everything you need. The associate will ask questions about the project so you don’t have to return to the store an hour later because you forgot brushes, or rollers, or drop cloths. If he does his job right, you will be fully equipped to finish your project without visiting the store again. But, the next time you have a project to do, where will you turn? You’ll remember the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the helpful Ace employee and will most like head for Ace again.
So, do you want your customers to come back? Yes and no. Not because they are repeatedly seeking a resolution to an ongoing problem or because you didn’t do your job thoroughly and they are forced to return for something they need. Ask enough questions to be a one-stop shopping destination. However, you do want to be the one the customer turns to in the future – not because they need to, but because they want to.
Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to http://www.hyken.com.
By Bob Fletcher, September 30, 2014 at 9:59 am
How do you know when your schedules need a check up? Is it time for a check-up on your WFM scheduling?
Regardless of the tools you use in your contact center, schedules are produced based on parameters – or “fences” – that the scheduling system is required to schedule within. To make sure your schedules are at their most effective and productive, here are some of the settings that should be routinely checked:
- Are your supervisors complaining that they don’t work the same hours as their agents?
Do you use block scheduling? If not, then you may have an issue scheduling supervisors with their agents. For example: if you have a supervisor responsible for 12 agents, but their agents come in anywhere from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM throughout the day, how can they effectively supervise when they are not scheduled together?
- Do you start schedules on the 15-minute, half-hour or hour?
The difference is the ability to have more flexible break and lunch placements.
- Are you having trouble meeting adherence goals because agents are late for breaks and lunches? What is your Average Handle Time?
If your AHT is greater than 13-14 minutes, be careful about scheduling breaks and lunches starting on the 15-minute mark. Generally, if AHT is too close to the scheduling interval, it is very difficult to meet adherence.
- What percentage of part-time and split shifts do you have?
Typically, the percentage of part-time and split shifts should be 20-30% of your total schedules and should be used to cover your breaks and lunches.
- Do you have too many agents on break and lunch at the same time?
Make sure the intervals from start time for first and last break and first and last lunch are wide enough to give you plenty of room to schedule. The tighter the interval, the more people who will be out at the same time and the tougher it will be to make your service levels.
- Do your weekend schedules match your weekday schedules?
If your schedule start times on weekdays don’t match your weekend start times, you may be doing daily scheduling instead of weekly scheduling. As a result, agents and supervisors may have a start time of 9:00 AM on weekdays, for example, and a start time of 8:00 AM on weekends. Producing schedules that agents can’t or don’t want to work ultimately increases turnover.
- Are you scheduling people for less than 40 hours or more than 40 hours a week?
Check your settings on schedule length by day so that you don’t have people working 10 hours one day, and six hours another. This can create work weeks of less than 40 hours, causing you to pay costly overtime to cover these shift.
You can’t do without WFM scheduling in the contact center, but you can do better. WFM scheduling can be enhanced with an intraday staffing solution that enables workforce management teams to adjust their frontline staff to meet customer demand in real-time. Intradiem’s Intraday Staffing solution responds automatically to unexpected staffing needs (and aligns with your healthy WFM scheduling practices) to reduce labor costs and protect your service levels.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Stop Playing WFM Tug-of-War
By Annette Franz, September 25, 2014 at 9:47 am
Are your customers confused? Do you even know what that means? And do you know what the implications of customer confusion are?
There’s a marketing maxim that states:
A confused customer buys nothing.
This isn’t a good thing, from a variety of angles — most especially customer satisfaction. Think about that for a minute. And while you’re doing that, let’s start with defining what a “confused customer” looks like.
The following outlines how you can identify confused customers; they…
- Can’t find their way around your store or your website
- Can’t find what they are looking for
- Find what they’re looking for but don’t understand product details, pricing, or discounts
- Have an issue with your product or service and can’t understand why you can’t resolve it
- Don’t understand your jargon
- Think your products can do something they can’t
- Have too many choices
- View your brand, products, or services no differently from your competitors
- Don’t understand the difference between your product offerings
- Have too much information, none of which is or may be relevant to the task at hand
- Have too much or the wrong information to make a decision
- Don’t have enough information
- See inconsistencies in the brand, brand purpose, product, services, etc.
- Find brand messages inconsistent with brand experiences
- Don’t understand what your brand stands for — what your purpose is
Would you add anything else to the list? Does this describe what your customers experience?
What does that mean for you? Well, just as the maxim states, confused customers won’t buy anything. They won’t return — at least not without a lot of effort from you and, perhaps, from their friends — and they won’t recommend you, either. On top of that, they develop this dissatisfaction that leaves a general bad taste in their mouths about your brand.
But wait. Why are customers confused? Yeah, there are two parties to this equation! What are companies doing to create that confusion (and thereto damage customer satisfaction)? They are…
- Sending brand messages that are no different from their competitors
- Creating websites that are not clear and not easy to use
- Making store layouts and displays convoluted
- Developing pricing and discount strategies that require an MBA in Finance to understand
- Imitating rather than innovating
- Offering too many products
- Creating line extensions that don’t jive with the brand
- Not training staff adequately to be able to answer customer questions or to address their issues
- Speaking in jargon rather than in customer-friendly terms
- Trying to be all things to all people; as a result, they aren’t meaningful to anyone
What else are companies doing to create confusion for their customers?
What should companies be doing to eliminate any confusion to begin with? There are some basic strategies and practices that ought to be in place to avoid customer confusion. Some of them begin with their employees and their own internal messaging: clarity is required for employees to know what is expected of them, both in their roles within the company and how what they do contributes and relates to the customer experience. That means that training and communication are probably the most important tools in order to provide clarity of:
- Brand promise
When employees have clarity, it translates to clarity for customers, as well. Why? Because employee know-how and the employee experience drive the customer experience, which translates as customer satisfaction. They take their knowledge and clarity into everything they do, including developing brand strategies and communications, pricing and discounts, marketing messages, products, product information, websites, customer support experience, and more.
Another way that companies can reduce customer confusion is to eliminate operational and process inefficiencies. The best way to do this is to inventory touchpoints, map the journeys that customers take for the various tasks that they are trying to achieve, products they are trying to buy, etc., and identify where the journey breaks down. From there, fix the operational and process issues that lead to confusion and pain. Think simplicity. Think effortless. Think ease of doing business. Think process improvement.
Are your customers confused? You want them to buy, right? So, how and where can you eliminate confusion for them?
There’s nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept. — Ansel Adams
By Guest, September 22, 2014 at 5:24 pm
(This is a guest blog authored by Spence Mallder, SVP, GM Workforce Optimization, CTO of Aspect Software, originally published on July 2, 2014.)
Improving the customer experience has long been the siren’s call of industry analysts and B2C enterprises, but when out of the spotlight, most would have admitted that driving new revenue, cost reduction and risk avoidance were their primary objectives. However a new day is dawning. A recent Aberdeen Group survey regarding workforce optimization (WFO) programs shows that for the first time, the quality of customer interactions really is more important than agent productivity — and by a substantial margin. In the two short years between 2012 and 2014, the surveyed businesses became almost twice as likely to rank quality of customer interactions as the number one priority driving contact center WFO programs. The commoditization of products and services in many industries has left customer service as the only real differentiator, and the implicit threat of posts about negative experiences propagating through social media channels gives the consumer much more power and commands much more attention than ever before.
Workforce optimization has long been largely an automated overseer of contact center policies on agent performance, quality monitoring, actual vs. planned staffing and adherence to intraday schedules. The primary goal of traditional WFO has been to minimize labor costs while maintaining a targeted level of service. We need to start thinking about WFO from a new vantage point. How can we use the rich portfolio of tools in a robust WFO offering, such as Aspect’s Workforce Optimization 8.0 solution, to ensure remarkable customer experiences?
- Fix the agent WFO experience: There is a direct and incontrovertible relationship between the quality of your customer’s experience and happiness of your agents. Your WFO system is in many ways representative of your internal brand and can be a powerful enabler or a huge frustration for agents. Aspect recently released a highly simplified and intuitive user interface in its WFO 8.0 solution. Agents love it, and it is changing the very culture of contact centers where it is installed. View this short video explaining this new user interface that is changing the face of workforce optimization.
- Extend front office WFO into the back office: Tarp Worldwide estimates that 60% of a customer’s satisfaction is attributable to the enterprise’s back office operations. Workforce management software can be easily extended from the front office to the back office with much improved labor and operational effectiveness.
- Implement automated intraday staff management: Although automated staff management is a fairly new concept for WFO, it is very powerful, since it can intelligently and rapidly adapt staffing to real-time call volume changes. One of the key benefits of this new technology is its ability to turn unproductive agent idle time into productive time that can be used for other tasks, such as proactive agent training resulting in much higher morale and better experiences for customers.
- Identify agent behaviors resulting in high customer satisfaction with speech analytics: Use speech analytics to rapidly understand agent behaviors, phraseology and call flow that result in high customer satisfaction ratings, and institutionalize them as best practices. When used properly, speech analytics is one of the most powerful tools available for improving the customer experience. Our white paper discusses what to look for in a robust speech analytics solution.
- Use performance management with tight integration to quality management: Many contact centers are not getting full value from their performance management solutions or are not using them at all. Customer satisfaction surveys from your quality management solution need to be accessible in a robust performance management system, so you can easily view agent performance data in many different ways to reveal new insights regarding how to achieve good customer experiences.
Of course, this is just a sampling of the many ways you can apply WFO technology to directly improve the customer experience. Expect to see more WFO innovations as the consumer becomes increasingly empowered, and the customer experience becomes by far the most important metric for contact center success.
Spence Mallder, General Manager of the Workforce Optimization Division and Chief Technology Officer at Aspect Software, is focused on identifying process efficiency improvement opportunities in the enterprise to meet the market demand for a single solution to optimize and orchestrate the different resources and tasks that impact the customer experience in both the front and back office.
Whether you call it employee development or skills enhancement, it’s all about training our agents and leaders to be successful with our customers and improve the bottom line. Not enough training and our employees may fail to provide the customer experience needed.
Some centers do not have the luxury of having a full time center trainer or team of trainers and may rely on corporate trainers to support them with some or all of the classroom-type training done with both new and seasoned agents.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that corporate development people rarely have any contact center experience. Some have never worked in any customer service or sales role. Many tell me it’s been years since they spent any time talking to customers and have never observed agents and center leaders on the job to learn what type of skills are key for success.
It’s not only the corporate trainers who are disconnected. Some executives have the same problem.
I recently heard about an operations executive in charge of starting up his company’s new contact center. He had no center experience but he was confident that he knew how one should be set up since he knew how the branch offices were run.
Since the new center team would need training, he decided it was time for the entire company to also have training so he enlisted the Human Resources manager to work with him to create classes for everyone: retail, administrative and even the newly hired contact center team would attend in mixed groups.
Unfortunately, everything on the agent training agenda they designed revolved around operational processes: data collection, product info and terminology refreshers, and how to use the systems to document information. Nothing was designed from the customer experience perspective or for the agents who would be dealing with them on the phone.
In place of soft skills training, the center team was instead issued management designed canned scripts for their incoming calls. The scripts were based on what they thought would be best for a quickly-get-off-the-call approach rather than customer engagement. Once the agents realized that the scripts didn’t work for most customer interactions encountered, the scripts were tossed.
On the job skills development for agents was a major issue since monitoring and call recording was not available. The company had purchased a phone system a year earlier that had not been considered for contact center use, so adding any quality coaching tools now would entail a large expense to replace phones and system. Management was unwilling to spend the money and the only coaching done was “feedback” when another department or customer complained about an agent.
Agent training done just to say “we’re training” is clearly not enough and yet it continues for some businesses. Without clear customer experience and agent success goals, without being customized for the appropriate skills for the work being done, generic training is wasted time and effort for all involved.
Poorly designed training lacking focus on customer success and agent engagement will quickly drive your business “off the rails.”
By Shep Hyken, September 11, 2014 at 8:22 am
I recently had the privilege of speaking to the people of Ace Hardware about creating amazing customer service. If you know anything about Ace, you might be thinking that they could be the ones delivering the lesson on service – Ace has built its own special brand of customer service centered on being helpful. One of the corporate speakers at the event, Tom Knox, Vice President of Retail and Business Development, made a statement that really resonated with me:
We don’t want to be known for having the nicest people. We want to be known for having the most helpful people.
Does this mean that Ace Hardware’s personnel are not nice? No, I would say that “nice” is one component of helpful, but there’s another element as well – being knowledgeable. It’s the combination of nice plus knowledgeable that adds up to Ace’s special brand of customer service.
Let’s consider each component then. Have you ever done business with a company where the people were extremely nice, but still weren’t able to offer what you wanted? You might remember thinking, “they are so nice” or “they try so hard,” and you might even have returned a time or two to give them another chance. But eventually, if they don’t get the job done, you will turn to another business that offers the same product or service, looking for someone who will get the job done.
So then perhaps you find another business with people who are knowledgeable and offer the product that you want to buy. But if they are knowledgeable without being nice, you are not likely to give them your long-term business either. There may be a few customers who will put up with bad attitudes and a lack of appreciation, but the majority will move on. Customers want the total experience – nice people who know what they are doing – and don’t forget that a quality product or service is a must as well.
For Ace Hardware, the equation looks like this:
Nice + Knowledgeable = Helpful
Ace promises to be “the most helpful hardware stores on the planet,” and they work hard to fulfill that promise of customer service. As the customers experience their friendly, knowledgeable service, they gain confidence, which leads to repeat business and eventually, loyalty.
So what components do you want to include in your brand of amazing customer service? Define how you will offer the total package – from the quality of your product to the attitudes and abilities of your staff – and you are on your way to happy, confident customers.
By Greg Levin, September 9, 2014 at 9:27 am
If you are a contact center director, manager or supervisor, you most likely value your agents. You most likely strive to implement programs and incentives to keep agents engaged and happy. You most likely even smile at agents when you see them – unless, of course, they are out of adherence.
Yet you most likely don’t have Employee Satisfaction (E-Sat) listed among the key performance indicators (KPIs) in your contact center.
This doesn’t make you a bad person. But it could make for a bad contact center.
Without a formal process in place for measuring employee sentiment and engagement, you are merely left to assume that the folks who seem to be smiling when interacting with your valued customers are actually content. In reality, they could be planning a violent coup.
And it’s no secret that unhappy agents lead to unhappy customers. Unhappy agents also lead to high turnover, which costs tons of money and leads to unhappy executives, who then make you unhappy.
All this can be avoided – or at least kept in check – by making E-Sat a KPI in your contact center.
E-Sat in Action
The best contact centers do more than just give lip service to E-Sat. Rather, they regularly measure it – as often as every quarter – using a comprehensive survey tool. They also keep a close eye on agent sentiment in between those formal surveys to make sure a mutiny isn’t in the works.
These centers’ surveys are designed to gauge not only traditional employee satisfaction, but also employee engagement. Engagement is satisfaction on steroids. Having an engagement component built into your E-Sat survey helps to identify which agents would not only help to put out a fire in the contact center but also run through the flames to save you and their employee manual.
It’s best to use a third-party surveying specialist to design and implement your E-Sat survey to ensure that the right questions are asked in the right ways, as well as to help foster a sense of privacy/anonymity, thus increasing the chances that agents will respond in a frank and honest matter. Surveying specialists can also help a contact center evaluate results, pinpoint key trends, and suggest actions to take based on the findings – such as hiring bodyguards for the supervisors.
Naturally, every contact center would love to achieve a 100% E-Sat rate, but that’s about as likely as a home agent bathing every day. As with C-Sat, anything in the 80%-90% range for E-Sat is impressive – and feasible, particularly if you incorporate into the survey process threats of physical harm for low ratings by staff.
If E-Sat isn’t already on your contact center’s list of critical metrics, add it ASAP. Bump Average Handle Time off the roster to make room. And when it comes to measuring E-Sat, don’t just go through the motions, or you’ll likely find that you have a bunch of agents doing the same.
And when that happens, your customers may also go through some motions – like moving their account to your competitor.
By Annette Franz, September 2, 2014 at 10:44 am
[The original post appeared on the CX Journey blogsite on August 26, 2014.]
How well are your change management efforts going?
I recently came across Dr. Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change. The steps come from his 1996 book, Leading Change, which outlines the eight critical success factors for change management.
As you can imagine, this process was intriguing to me, since it applies quite nicely to the challenges we face as we struggle to implement changes to/for the customer experience within our organizations. It got me thinking about whether I captured all of these steps in my recent post on change management. I think I got the general essence of the process, but I couldn’t agree more with his steps I missed.
Let’s take a look. Here are the steps, straight from the Kotter International website, with my thoughts added between the lines for each one.
Step 1: Establishing a Sense of Urgency
Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
I think this is a critical component for change management for the customer experience. Getting leadership buy-in and helping them understand that the sooner the focus is placed on the customer experience, the sooner the business will benefit is an everyday challenge for customer experience professionals. At the same time, employee buy-in is also critical, as employees will be impacted by the changes and will be the ones who deliver the experience. Don’t forget to keep the organization as a whole informed about the changes – why they’re important, when and how they’ll happen, and how they’ll impact employees, customers, and the company in general.
Step 2: Creating the Guiding Coalition
Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.
This is where your governance structure comes into play. Changing the organization’s DNA to be more customer-centric is not a project for one person to undertake; this is an organization-wide effort. As such, the governance structure is critical to the foundation of any customer experience effort. Without the core team, the steering committee with both executive sponsors and cross-functional champions, the customer focus won’t go far.
Step 3: Developing a Change Vision
Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.
Develop a customer experience vision that will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help develop your strategy and choose future courses of action.
Step 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-In
Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
Communication – early, often, and ongoing – is a critical tool to gain buy-in and to ensure success for any customer experience effort. There are many different ways to ensure that you communicate the vision and to make sure that everyone has a clear line of sight to what needs to be done; one of my favorite is the journey map.
Step 5: Empowering Broad-Based Action
Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.
Are your employees unencumbered and empowered to do what’s right for your customers?
Step 6: Generating Short-Term Wins
Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
We know that winning over executives (and others) and getting their buy-in often requires the use of skunkworks projects that demonstrate those short-term wins. These projects are used to build the business case, which is often built upon quick wins to show not only what can be done but also your commitment and persistence to achieving some outcome. As change is implemented, further quick wins may be required. And I couldn’t agree more with recognizing and rewarding employees for successes, not just during this quick wins phase but always.
Step 7: Never Letting Up
Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
I have mentioned before that the customer experience is a journey. So are organizational change efforts, as part of that journey. They go hand in hand.
Step 8: Incorporating Changes into the Culture
Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.
In order to implement and to sustain the changes you’ll make in order to shift to a customer-centric, customer-focused organization, the values, the purpose, and the vision must be ingrained into the DNA of the organization. That requires that policies, processes, language, hiring, training, and all other efforts and decisions the organization makes must be based on what’s best for the customer. That customer focus becomes an organizational discipline, not a department. Everyone’s job ultimately contributes to the customer experience; make sure there is a clear line of sight. And continue to reiterate that.
How well does your organization do in adhering to these steps when implementing change? Which of these are a challenge that you must still overcome?
If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. -Unknown