Transforming your customers' experience
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Transforming your customers' experience

Why senior managers need to pause and reflect, and make changes to their own behaviour if they want to transform customer experience.

My conversations with business leaders suggest that the challenge of delivering a customer experience (CX) that’s distinctive, consistent and proven to create commercial value tops the agenda in many boardrooms. The principal concern appears to be planning, inspiring and executing sustained and coherent change in the way that organisations respond to growing customer needs and market conditions.

I’ve found that one of the main barriers to CX delivery in an organisation can be resistance to change within the senior leadership team. This may reflect failure to recognise that a company’s CX is out of step with customer expectations and can be compounded by a lack of experience in managing complex change on a large scale.

Whatever the reason, failure to respond to changing customer demands is damaging, with 97% of companies saying that improving CX is critical to bottom-line delivery, and the cost of CX failure being estimated at 20% of annual revenue.

Where corporate leadership is unwilling or unable to respond to the need for change in CX, the symptoms are easy enough to spot:

  • Lack of strategy and vision to guide CX delivery
  • Inconsistent leadership, causing frustration and confusion across the organisation
  • Lack of prioritised investment at critical touch points
  • Processes that inhibit flexibility and speed of response
  • Silo structure and ways of working that inhibit collaboration and agility

Here are four key performance areas that are useful for senior teams to review:      

1. Belief: Good CX is rooted in shared belief and appreciation of customer attitudes and behaviour, and how this needs to shape strategy. Customer-focussed planning that drives customer experience strategy and is tied with the delivery of significant corporate goals is, therefore, critical. The output is an operationally and financially robust CX plan that forms an integral part of the corporate strategy, and is owned and understood by the senior management team with clear individual accountabilities.  

Specific areas to work on within the planning process:

  • Customer needs
  • Positioning gaps
  • Vision and strategy
  • Investment priority
  • Operationaldelivery

2. Collaboration: Powerful CX depends on coherent and consistent delivery at multiple touch points. This requires alignment that transcends functional boundaries and addresses interdependency between teams to deliver shared goals.  Collaborative ways of working are, therefore, critical to success, and must be hard-wired into corporate processes, decision-making and management style in order to supersede organisational silos, as well as heighten speed, flexibility and innovation.

Specific areas to address:

  • Shared belief
  • Accountabilities
  • Dependencies
  • Ways of working
  • Signature behaviours

3. Communication:  Customers expect prompt and effective resolution at the point of delivery. As a result, employees need to understand what’s required of them, why this is important and how to deliver. Effective internal communications that cuts through, wins hearts and minds, and inspires ownership at all levels of the organisation is vital, along with being supported by good training and supportive processes.  

Specific areas to address:

  • Explaining why change is needed
  • Inspiring ownership and commitment
  • Involving everyone in the process of development
  • Equipping the organisation with the skills to deliver
  • Encouraging performance and recognising success

4. Coaching:  A progressive approach to learning and development that is actively supported by senior management is proven to transform the adoption of new skills.  Well-managed coachingby line managers is central to nurturing effective performance and delivering sustained change in CX.  The result is exponential growth in individual capability, and ownership and performance at all levels that supports organisational agility and responsiveness.

Specific areas to address:

  • Identifying performance gaps
  • Using capability audits
  • Setting clear behavioural goals
  • Using blended learning techniques
  • Building coaching skills at all levels

My experience shows that addressing these four ‘imperatives’ at the most senior level can have a transformational and rapid effect on organisational and individual performance, and CX delivery. Visible leadership of this type is a powerful catalyst for persuading, inspiring and preparing large numbers of people to step outside of their comfort zone and change their behaviour.

Looking to learn more on this topic? Take a look at our Introduction to Customer Experience course and discover the importance of customer experience management. 

Mike Ashton Course Director CIM
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