When pursuing exceptional customer experiences (CX)that build enduring relationships rather than just chase new sales, having the right organisational culture is imperative. As Philip Kotler said, “your lowest paid employees typically have the most influence on your customers’ experience; look after them well and they will look after your customers!”
But be warned. Cultural transformation is a long-term process and not a short-term intervention. You can’t just focus on what you see that is wrong – it’s like an iceberg: what’s above the surface matters far less than what lies below.
Any transformation must be led from the top, and there needs to be a common view throughout the organisation of the north star – loyal and engaged customers with an emotional connection to the brand.
Once the leadership and teams share the vision, they will be able to shape culture, align around common expectations and ensure that the resources (money, people, and technology) are made available to make the change possible.
Any transformation process must be led from the C-Suite if it is to gain traction and produce sustainable outcomes. But it must also be cross-departmental, with all systems and processes being rejigged to improve the customer journey in line with the overarching strategy. There can be no silos, where some teams get shielded from the change.
All departments must be reinvented to ensure that they all play their role to build long-term relationships with customers, to keep them coming back.
The Human Touch
When you have a strong and appropriate culture aligned around a common view, you’re well on your way to delivering exceptional CX. It is, however, also true that a strong “bad”, or misaligned culture is worse than having a weak or no organisational culture.
Different types of organisations have different cultures. There is no one size fits all.
The most important element of excellent CX is your people. Navigating organisational culture with a human touch becomes a key priority of today’s Human Relationship (not Resources!) departments.
This has probably always been the case, but it has become more so due to the proliferation of technology in the workplace, particularly artificial intelligence (AI).
Technology promises so much flexibility and choice, and it delivers this for customers who have an unprecedented array of options available to them. But it needs to also deliver this to employees if the organisation is to work as well for those who work there as it does for those it serves. The battle for attention is relentless in an always-on economy. This is true for employees as well as customers, and organisational culture must be seen in context of how society is grappling with what it means to be human.
Your brand must deliver experiences to meet the service level requirements of customers but also the empathetic experience so often lost when AI is the boss. Our always-on culture has led to customer needs being satisfied as they arise, often at great personal cost to employees, who have had to sacrifice the 8-8-8 industrial model, where people work for eight hours, sleep for the same amount of time and have the rest for leisure.
Cultures of the future must authentically reflect the brand but through the eyes of the customer and the employee.
When AI is your boss, work can be precarious and lonely. Culture needs to create the environment which appeals to the kind of worker you want: You have to allow people time to sleep!
Making it stick
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Harvard University academic Boris Groysberg says that culture is shared, pervasive, enduring and implicit. Groyserg identified eight types of cultures:
Caring – based on relationships and trust;
Purpose – based on idealism and altruism;
Learning – based on exploration and creativity;
Enjoyment – based on fun and excitement;
Results – based on achievement and winning;
Authority – based on strength and decisiveness;
Safety – based on caution and preparedness; and
Order – based on respect, structure and norms.
Depending on the culture, the journey to great CX will change; there is no one size fits all and not all cultures are suited to all businesses. A very strong culture which is unsuited to the brand’s objectives isa liability when misaligned with strategy.
Changes made must become part of the brand’s DNA.
This means that all performance contracts, bonuses and incentives must take CX into account. Training must be compulsory from the bottom to the top and recognition – good and bad – given to outcomes, with a view to rewarding or fixing as appropriate.
How CGA can help
Using our established roadmapping techniques to provide you with clarity on what your organisation needs to do and when, we create the disruption and long-term change that will position your brand as the first choice for customers. By providing coaching to the leaders in your organisation so they understand how changes in the way we live, work and move around will impact your business, we help them develop a deliberate plan for change and allow them to understand the role they play in transforming your business for the future.
This will ensure vertical alignment throughout your organisation to deliver the plan for the future, including aligning organisational and employee objectives with the customer experience strategy.
To find out more about how CGA can help you transform your company’s culture to ensure that you build long-term relationships with both customers and employees, visit our website www.cgaexperience.com, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call our offices on +44 (0) 1483 209 586.
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