… get the right team behind your strategy
That Customer Experience has tenets in every area of business that must not be taken lightly. In a world where change is happening faster than we learn nothing surprises us any longer. As in every other undertaking getting the right team behind your experience agenda is critical. Derek Sivers an entrepreneur and founder of CDBaby says aptly ‘Remember to nurture your first few followers as equals. He explains the importance of leadership recognizing one’s self as equal with followers. According to him the goal of any movement is not to inflate the leader’s ego but to get a message across to complete an initiative. He, therefore, stresses the importance of moving a collaborative effort, doing this ultimately attracts more followers. The lesson here is in the importance of having behind you a team that believes in your vision and willingly commits to your agenda.
This gives credence to the pivotal role of recruitment. Daniel Hoff-Rodrigues sums this up when he speaks about the need for ‘forging links with the wider community in a symbiotic relationship’ as a requirement for getting the right minds behind your agenda. In planning your recruitment strategy do not lose sight of your quest to influence a customer-centric culture, a key must-have as you build your team. His advice here is for you to encapsulate in your agenda the following key areas as part of the ethos in your business; understanding and empathy, engagement, creativity, values, and goal setting.
Understanding and empathy
Who are you looking for to prop up your team? If you are looking for a team member who has an understanding of customer wants and needs then look carefully. Look for people who will come in feeling they are part of your business and will commit to understanding every facet of it. What you need is a team member who will not only work to a job description with key technical terms and responsibilities but also develop a deep understanding of your needs and business culture. Trust me the hard side (technical abilities) of your hires are of equal importance but aside from the technical knowledge and capabilities, what are the characteristics of a good CX team member? Aside from certifications to ensure one’s proficiency in a technical field it is of equal importance to adequately complement this with the knowledge and approach of a true CX professional.
Someone who has spent time in a customer-facing role is going to demonstrate a better understanding of customer issues than those who haven’t applied practically, concepts of empathy and walking in the customers’ shoes. In your role as a CX leader, such a person will be a great asset. If you get this right, you will be adding very significant value in terms of how you engage others in your organization. This person as an asset brings great value to your table not only in how you work between silos but can also bridge any gaps in your team’s lack of experience. You will be signing for a Bruno Fernandez if you did that catch my drift?
I shared a story once about this young gentleman in a retail outlet in London who whispered to me not to buy from his shop sitting that the shop across the street had better items and was more competitively priced. Well in my selfish thoughts as a customer I was happy to take the beat but trust me you don’t need such a person in your team. I give him high marks for his empathy but loyalty to your team and organization is crucial. Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’ admonishes the importance of getting the ‘right people on the bus’ truth is as the experts advise it pays sometimes take a risk and hire that one person who may not necessarily have all the experience you require but is smart and willing to learn. You can teach this individual the stuff he/she needs to know to enable the person to contribute productively to your cause.
What mindset are you nurturing in your business or organization? Do your charges willingly go the extra mile in their relationship with your customer? You need team members who are keen to engage your customers throughout their journey ensuring that they effectively navigate them through your touchpoints even if they have to deal with different personnel or teams. Ensure that your customer-centric culture is etched in the hearts and minds of your team as they interact with customers through varied channels to ensure that they focus on strengthening relationships and develop customer loyalty with the added value of gaining access to valuable customer information.
Casey Briglia a marketing specialist writing for Gartner stresses that in your engagement strategy you need to heavily consider what existing and potential customers need throughout their purchase journey. According to her, you need to identify key steps throughout their purchase journey as well as key steps in your target audience’s purchase journey and add a touchpoint to reach customers consistently. Your team members must necessarily develop an emotional connection between customers and your brand. When your team understands the customer, they are well-placed to provide a high-quality customer experience that will ultimately build their loyalty.
A team attuned to your customer agenda will respond to your deliberate strategy of preparing them to empathize with and resolve customer issues by maintaining a positive intent and language, getting into the customer’s shoes, paying close attention to the tone of the customer, providing early responses to customer queries and issues and personalizing the responses. Your focus on customer issues will ultimately pay off as your engagement strategy combined with empathy will enhance customer experience and mutually enhance your team’s ability to grasp and address customers’ pain points.
Today’s Tech world places demands on us to keep pace with developments and even strive to exceed expectations with aplomb. This should inform your recruitment policy. Primarily you must strive to be an early adopter and must also have the right mechanisms in place to ensure that your recruits either hit the ground running or are quick to adapt to the new ways of working precipitated by the demands of the time. Fast-track to the immediate impact of covid-19 many businesses were forced to rethink their approach. How about this story of a gin manufacturer known for producing alcoholic beverages suddenly forced to change their product line to sanitizers? The story does not end there, to keep a grip on their customer base they had to creatively brand their sanitizers with a catchy name of Gintizers. How about that for a good story. It did work they stalked up sales at a crazy pace and still kept their loyal customers in focus.
Creativity is key to helping your business stand out from the crowd. The creative use of technology will help you align your touchpoints in ways that enhance visibility to your key public and trigger your efforts at tapping into blue ocean opportunities. To begin with, avoid creating a workplace with too serious a working environment as it creates an atmosphere of fear and tension, and this can be counter-productive. What you need is a fun-filled environment, this normally inspires your employees to think creatively. According to researchers the positive mood that is created by the fun atmosphere is normally regarded as a psychological ingredient that spurs workers towards flexing their thoughts more.
For instance, Google has implemented a 20 percent policy that requires that workers dedicate 20 percent of their working hours to personal projects which prosper creativity. Researchers propose unconventional ways of promoting a positive working environment such as having some light music and pets in the office. Such sounds of nature produce a mentally relaxing environment where creative thinking thrives. There is no one-size-fits-all to this policy what is needed here is a unique way of expressing yourself such that your working environment engenders originality in thinking and innovative work practices to set you apart. The key is to be deliberate about how you promote creativity, as great employee experiences ultimately translate into the creative workplace.
Promote values that support your employee journey positively. They should include concepts such as collaboration, clarity, and confidence. In terms of partnerships, you must look for synergy between your partner’s values and yours. I daresay that even in mergers this must be a stand-out requirement as this has been a major thorn in the flesh for many mergers and acquisitions. Don’t just hire for the candidate’s ability to do a job be more interested in the ones who will also willingly embrace or align with your culture. Peter Drucker’s hard words ring true here, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Not being culturally aligned can precariously undermine value creation.
Perhaps you might want to consider an interview process that is two-way where you offer an opportunity for the prospects to market and sell themselves. Jack Welch formerly General Electric had the opportunity of spending a weekend with his predecessor among other prospects and got picked for the CEO role even when it seemed that he was the most unlikely candidate among the lot. That opportunity to interact with the outgoing CEO was priceless. Perhaps you may want to reserve this routine for such strategic roles however the principle here is that a more robust hiring mechanism prepares your prospects adequately to ‘hit the ground running when they join your business.
A recent study by customerTHINK revealed that of more than 1,000 companies in the ‘Great Places to Work’ database there is a strong correlation between financial performance and the degree to which employees believe their company’s values are being practiced. Yet, another study from Reward Gateway has shown that only “23% of employees feel completely informed about the values of the organization they work for.” This underscores the need to ensure that company values are adopted in day-to-day behaviour, but unfortunately, it isn’t happening everywhere. Ensure that your company values align with delivering a great customer experience. And apply this as a guide for engaging with customers and the type of experience that they expect?
Denzel Washington is quoted as saying ‘Dreams without goals are just dreams, and they ultimately fuel disappointment’. While you set standard goals such as financials, recruitment rates, turnover, etc. do not neglect to use modernity to reinforce your traditional approaches. Several blogs, podcasts, weekly social content posting, video introductions, and instructions on bridging the digital gap are attainable goals and must be in focus as you plan.
Researchers opine that Nine out of ten managers confirm that customer experience is a strategic objective for increasing sales and revenue. However, most managers do not ask what the end goal is before engaging in a CX improvement project. By focusing on business objectives such as customer retention, customer satisfaction, product purchases, purchase volume, purchase frequency, products returned, the number of dissatisfied customers, and revenue. You prime yourself to evaluate the effectiveness of your customer experience strategy to convert into business results.
By sticking to your vision and goals you can alter any industry despite what people say the experts opine. One of your goals must be to support young people of today and future generations within any social milieu. To ensure that you have a healthy pipeline that drives ambitions and aspirations positively be very deliberate about your recruitment process as you build your business. Strive to bring in persons who commit to your values and are keen to align with your culture of innovation and creativity. Sometimes you will have to make a U-turn or hit a bump but if you persevere you will achieve your goal.
|The Writer is the Managing Consultant at Capability Trust Limited a People and Learning Organisation serving the market with Talent Acquisition and Management, Leadership Development, HR Outsourcing, and General HR Advisory, Training, and consulting services. He can be reached on 059 175 7205,
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