Could transforming your organization into a customer-first powerhouse be the key to unlocking unprecedented growth and loyalty? On this episode of Experience Action, Jeannie Walters engages with a truly insightful listener question, exploring how to permeate a customer-first mindset throughout every leadership tier. She dissects the vital necessity for senior leadership's committed involvement and its ripple effect on a company's success. You'll gain strategic insights on fostering this commitment, from establishing 'Customer Days' for direct interaction to integrating customer feedback into the business strategy.
Prepare to be equipped with practical advice, as you hear about the importance of continuous education and training to prevent customer experience from fading into the realm of corporate jargon. Jeannie shares stories and strategies that will empower your team to bring forth ideas that enhance the customer journey and ensure these suggestions are woven into the very fabric of your organization's objectives. Whether you're at the helm of the C-suite or on the front lines of management, this episode is brimming with actionable guidance to help you champion a customer-first ethos that reverberates through every facet of your company. Tune in and let's move from talk to action in creating exceptional customer experiences.
Jeannie’s LinkedIn Learning Courses -- bit.ly/jeannie-lil
CX Charter Guidebook -- bit.ly/cxcharter
CX Meeting Agenda & Guidebook -- bit.ly/cxagenda
Experience Investigators Learning Center -- experienceinvestigators.com
Experience Action. Let's stop just talking about customer experience, employee experience and the experience of leaders. Let's turn ideas into action. Your host, Jeannie Walters, is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker and founder of Experience Investigators, a strategic consulting firm helping companies increase sales and customer retention through elevated customer experiences. Ready, Set, Action. One, two, three, four.Jeannie Walters:
Here we are kicking off another episode of Experience Action. I'm Jeannie Walters. I'm so glad you're here, and not only do I love hearing from people all over the world, but I also love hearing from friends next door, and today we're lucky enough to get a question from one of those friends.Listener Question:
I'm so curious about your perspective about how to holistically influence senior leaders and middle managers and frontline leaders, about the value of developing talent to have a mindset that focuses, first and foremost on the customer experience, what they see, what they hear, what they feel, what they experience in the interaction, whether it is in person or digital or on the web. So I know this is a broad, broad question. What do you think are those key areas of influence?Jeannie Walters:
Hi, Diana. Oh, it's so good to hear from you and it's so great that you're asking this question. Now, I know that Diana is one of those customer-centric leaders who really looks out for her colleagues and her teams, and I think, like many of us, we're always looking for more ideas right, more opportunities and perspectives to really make sure that we are prioritizing the right things, because, as customer experience leaders, we are constantly asked to juggle priorities to make sure we're taking care of customers and the employees who serve them, to make sure that we're delivering business results for our operations, but we are also making sure that we are exceeding customer expectations in everything we do. It's no small feat. So, yet again, I just want to say I see you all working so hard and I want to thank you for that hard work. Now, Diana, this is such an insightful question because I really think that when we talk about embedding a customer-first mindset across all levels of leadership, from senior leaders to middle managers and frontline staff, it really requires a multifaceted approach. So I'm going to give you a handful of ideas. Now, these ideas are ways to both think for your mindset and also a few actions that anybody can take right away. So let's go ahead and jump in and talk about how can we approach a customer first mindset across all levels of leadership. Let's jump right in. Now number one, you've heard me say this before, we need leadership commitment. Now, if you don't have this, I don't want you to just turn this off and think I can't do it, because sometimes we have to build that commitment, we have to educate and influence the leaders that we serve. But really it all begins at the top. It is harder to be successful as a customer experience leader if you do not have the senior leadership who is really there to endorse and also actively participate in customer experience initiatives. A study by Temkin Group a while ago, and then some others, have really found that companies with strong leadership commitment to customer experience outperform their peers, by a significant margin in terms of revenue and customer retention. Now what can you do if you're starting from scratch? One thing I would suggest is organizing maybe a monthly or quarterly, whenever you can, a Customer Day where senior leaders interact directly with customers and frontline employees. This can include field visits, customer service calls or participating in customer feedback sessions. The more that you can get your leadership involved, the more they will see how important this is. Number two: education and training. Now we want to make sure that we are providing continuous education and training programs. Because, if we don't, customer experience can become something we just kind of talk about occasionally. People think it's a flavor of the month, they think it's trendy, they think it's something that they don't really have to concern themselves with. Now I talk a lot about how sometimes we treat customer experience like magical thinking, like if we just talk about it enough, people will get it, it's common sense. Nope, thumbs down to that approach. We need to educate everybody about: What are the actions they need to take? How will this influence our strategy as a business? What are the methods of feedback for them? So our frontline employees are leaders. Everybody in the middle has an avenue to say, "you know what I think would work better for the customer and know that they'll feel heard. We also want to make sure that we're including this education as part of onboarding. Not just a mention, but something that really goes into what are we to our customers? What is the promise that we've made? One of the great examples of this is Ritz- Carlton. Employees are empowered through their gold standards training, which of course, includes their credo and motto, things like we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. This type of program, it can really be adapted to different levels within the organization, serving different levels of leaders, to make sure that everyone is aligned with that customer first approach. Now, one way to do this if you don't have time to bring everybody in, or your spread out in remote distance or anything like that is to look for or develop on your own or with a partner, develop a short interactive e-learning module focusing on these principles, those CX principles, tailored for these different levels. And, really this has to be required. But then don't just do this when they're being onboarded and don't just do this once a year. Make sure it's something they hear about and that they receive that education on throughout the year. Now, one of my favorite things as a Linkedin Learning instructor is to hear from people all over who tell me oh, you know what? We were asked to watch your course on customer journey mapping or providing a positive customer experience, or, my latest one, customer experience trends, and that really is the language that we use within our organization." That means so much to me. So if you have questions about this, if you're looking for different courses, Linkedin Learning might be a great resource for you as well. Another idea here: customer feedback integration. You want to make sure that we're regularly incorporating customer feedback into decision making processes. So this means going way beyond just collecting data, but actively analyzing it and using it to make informed decisions. So the one that always pops mind for this I know it's an overused example, but Amazon is pretty amazing at this. They consistently use customer feedback to drive improvements and innovations, and that "and innovations piece is what most organizations overlook. If you can use customer feedback, the insights that you gather, the data that you get there to make your business better, then every level of leadership will really see that and understand the value of it. Number four: employee engagement and recognition. Now, of course, we love engaged employees right, we know that they're more likely to deliver superior customer experiences. But recognizing and rewarding staff for exceptional customer service, or having that customer first mindset, or maybe making one of those suggestions to innovate for the organization, this is where it really does foster a culture that values customer experience and customer satisfaction. Now, one thing you can do is start a monthly or quarterly or yearly recognition program where employees who have gone above and beyond are acknowledged and rewarded. So sometimes this can be super simple. You can do this as a spotlight in the company newsletter highlighting what they did. Maybe a small bonus or extra time off. Now, when we're talking about really understanding what customers are dealing with and how to recognize the employees who are serving them, one recent example I really like is that the current CEO of Starbucks, took over in April of 2023, and one of the things that he did was, both before he took that role and for the first few months after, he put himself through an immersive program where he was a barista, and he did this all over in different stores because he wanted to understand the nuances of the business and the needs of those frontline employees, not just the customers. I think that's a great way to engage employees is to show them that the CEO is really invested in this and understands. He made some changes to different processes based on what he experienced as that barista. Now Howard Schultz, the original CEO, is also famous for doing this because he really wanted to understand those nuances as well. So this is something that is part of their culture, but they're continuing to do it, and it also allows them to recognize those employees who are doing such a great job. Now, you've heard me say this next one quite a bit, but number six, I would say, is cross functional collaboration. Now, this is one of the points of our framework. How do you really make sure that you have influence as a CX leader? You have to connect with other leaders, and the only way you can do that in most organizations is to create some structure around cross-functional collaboration. We use something called the CX Charter. On experienceinvestigators. com, you can even find an agenda for an experience meeting. How do you run these cross-functional meetings? You want to schedule? I like monthly, sometimes quarterly, based on schedules. It's really a workshop more than a meeting, where teams share insights and strategies. You go over priorities, you figure out what's getting done and not done, what needs to get done, what are the obstacles and challenges, and this can really foster understanding and collaboration between those different functions, because a lot of times it's easy to say, oh, we should change this for the customer, but if you don't understand the internal process, then it's really easy to create something that's just not going to work for your organization. We need to include those different teams. Now, one of the examples that stands out here is Apple, from the beginning, has made sure that their product development and their retail team, for instance, are very closely aligned, and that means that there aren't decisions made that don't make sense. This has to be part of what we're doing there. We have to make sure that we are really looking for who needs to be involved. How can we get them involved early and how can we help them be part of the value, not just show them the value that will really help the leaders cross functionally understand how important this really is. So once you have that meeting, once you have that charter, that can really help you just build those relationships that are so important here as well. Now, of course, we live in a very data driven and, I would say, complex customer journey world now, and so the last thing I'm going to say here is make sure that you have alignment across all of your channels. If you have a digital team that never talks to your retail team or you have a warehouse team that isn't aware of how those things are delivered, we need to make sure, in today's hybrid world, that we are aligning digital, physical, every kind of channel that we have all together in a universal customer experience. So this means making sure that the brand's voice and what you're promising to customers are standard, whether the interaction is in person, online, through digital, over the phone, whatever. And one of the best ways to make sure all of these things happen is by measurement. We need to measure and iterate. So of course, we want to measure the effectiveness of our customer experience strategies and be willing to iterate. Now, a lot of what I see with measurement is what I call number narration, and this is where customer experience leaders are really kind of downgraded to just reporting out numbers but nobody sees the context around that. So if you're talking about key performance indicators like Net Promoter Score (NPS), or Customer Effort Score (CES) or whatever you use, make sure you're putting that into the context of the overall business. Our order's going up, is your customer lifetime value affected this way? Is your referral rate? All sorts of ways to really show the value. So if you're just measuring, that's not enough. If you're just measuring and reporting, that's not enough. We need to make sure there is context. So once you have a regular system of review, then that's your invitation to say, "you know, I think we could brainstorm improvements based on these trends or this customer feedback or what's happening with this metric. But we have to really put all of those things together to make sure that we are providing that context which is so crucial to developing that customer-centric mindset throughout the organization. So by focusing on all of these things, this multifaceted approach, organizations can develop a really strong customer-centric culture that permeates every level of the organization. So this approach not only enhances the customer experience and hopefully their loyalty, but ultimately it drives overall business performance, and that's what we're all here to do. So when in doubt, go back to that. Have that conversation with different leaders and say, "you know what motivates you, how do you know if you're doing a good job here at the organization? How can we help you?" And if you can put it into context like that, then people will really sit up and pay attention. This was such a great question, Diana. Thank you so much for reaching out and asking this. Thank you for all the work that you do. Thank you for being a leader out there in customer experience land. We need so many leaders to really do this well, and I know you're one of them. So, just like all of you, the listeners out there, I know that you're putting in the work, I know that you're looking for ways to innovate, and I'm in your corner again this year trying to let you know that you matter, your customers matter and customer experience matters, so let's make sure that we are taking action and I can't wait to hear further questions. Don't forget you can leave me a voicemail at askjeannie. vip. Until next time, have a great week, keep up the great work and I'll talk to you soon. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience, check out free resources at experienceinvestigators. com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our Year of CX program and more. And, please follow me, Jeannie Walters, on LinkedIn.