A business doesn’t exist without its customers — which explains why business owners spend a lot of time on generating new business and retaining clients. While some organizations focus mostly on delivering great customer service, others have realized that this is just one step in the right direction, and it should not stop there. The best way to retain customers is to focus on all the factors that encompass the entire customer journey leading to a great customer experience, or CX. Simply put, if you want your customers to invest in you, you need to invest in their experience.
Many initial CX efforts are spent on creating a strategy, defining what customer journeys need to look like and then orchestrating the business processes and systems to deliver on the vision. This transformation takes time, and the responsibility of the transformation often falls on the shoulders of the marketing or customer service teams. However, CX is not solely the duty of customer service and marketing teams. Creating a sustainably excellent customer experience requires cultural alignment throughout the organization and strategies for embedding CX into each and every aspect of an organization’s culture.
How we define ‘culture’
Organizational culture is a combination of values and behavior that influences how people interact, both internally within the company and externally with customers or stakeholders. There are many tangible and intangible drivers of culture. Examples include the tone of leadership that is set from the top, core values of a company, national culture, vision, company history, products/services and even economic factors. Though culture may not be easy to quantify, when positive and enabling, it is the “secret sauce” of a company’s potential.
Linking CX and organization culture
A customer experience transformation requires deliberate change management. Below are four key aspects to address as part of a CX transformation:
- Executive buy-in;
- Enterprise-wide involvement;
- Focus on a few critical behaviors at a time;
- Technology enablement.
Most research cites executive buy-in as the No. 1 enabler and success factor in change management initiatives. So, what does this practically mean for an organization? It is not enough to have the CX vision strategy endorsed by the executive team. Leadership also has to set expectations through goals, processes and behaviors that will support the vision, and support those with actionable plans that will help the rest of the company adopt the new way of work. This could be something as simple as the executive team pulling together a group of individuals from across the company to be CX champions, formally giving the group the mandate of driving the CX goals throughout the organization, and periodically having feedback meetings with the group to measure progress against the plan.
Consider finding ways to get the majority of the company involved in the transformation. Those who aren’t involved in or aware of how they are required to contribute to the initiative’s success most likely won’t support the initiative, potentially leading to change resistance. Practical solutions to consider include companywide communication of the CX vision and mission, soliciting ideas from all teams in the business (and also customers) to identify ways to improve the customer experience.
Focus on a few critical behaviors at a time
Every organization has a threshold for change fatigue; it is important to know what level of change a team can absorb and to prioritize changes accordingly. A 2013 survey conducted by the Katzenbach Center cites the No 1 barrier to sustainable change as “too many competing priorities, creating change fatigue.”
Having the right tools to generate insights can often be a challenge. If your information systems are not orchestrated in the most convenient way to generate the insights that you are looking for, and the effort to track and measure CX is onerous, this can be a slippery slope to disengagement from the CX journey. Selecting and implementing the right systems and tools and incorporating BI and Analytics into your transformation is another important enabler of the requisite organizational culture to support CX.
Customer experience has become an exciting business opportunity, rapidly growing in importance for keen business owners making CX a part of their company’s overall business strategy. This is true for a very simple reason — companies that focus on customer experience create more business and increase revenues — leading to higher profits!
Citrin Cooperman is uniquely positioned to advise on and execute transformation projects for companies in the middle market. Our frameworks and methodologies are based on Fortune 500 experience, tailored for the middle market. We understand the value of balancing vision with execution in creating value. Whether you need help with defining your CX vision, selecting the right systems or architecting the change journey, we can help. Contact us today if you would like to find out more on how we can assist you on your road to CX success!