Product-centric cultures are out and customer-centric cultures are in. That is the mantra being echoed across organizations today. However, acknowledging the need for change and actually implementing those changes are two different stories.
Shifting from a focus on products to building relationships with customers and prioritizing the customer’s point of view takes time and careful planning. Just ask the customer experience leaders.
Last week, in honor of CX Day, Bill Rigler, vice president of customer experience at Barclaycard U.S., and Anelia Varela, U.S. director at The Writer, shared tips and best practices on how to build a customer-centric culture that is supported by all employees from senior executives to frontline workers.
1. Engage the C-Suite
An initiative for transforming the company culture and customer strategies must start “at the top of the house,” Rigler said. “You’ll need the support of the C-suite to be taken seriously, so getting them engaged early on is critical.” And in addition to showing executives charts and stats, encourage them to see what the customer experience is like for themselves. Executives at Barclaycard U.S. regularly visit call centers and listen in on calls, according to Rigler. Doing so helps senior leaders stay in touch with customers’ needs and it lets the associates know their work matters.
2. Articulate your mission in just a few (meaningful) words
Creating a motto that encapsulates the company’s beliefs or ideals can be a powerful and effective way to remind employees what their mission is. However, word choice matters. Goals that are buried under jargon are far less effective than a simple sentence, Varela pointed out. Instead of terms like “operational excellence,” use a clearer phrase, such as “doing everyday things better.”
3. Pay attention to the little things
“When companies talk about the customer experience, it’s often about creating transcendental moments,” Varela noted. “But actually, every time someone interacts with your brand matters.” A hotel, for example, might build a luxuriant lobby and rooms, but those efforts are wasted if the staff is rude. Of course, there are certain factors that are simply out of a company’s control, but paying attention to the details of customer interactions on a journey map can go a long way in differentiating the brand.
4. Give guidelines, not rules
Although training and a comprehensive policy are important for delivering a great customer experience, employees need the freedom to decide how best to address each situation, Rigler said. As an example, he pointed to a customer who informed an associate that she missed a credit card payment because her son needed an expensive operation. The customer included a link to a Facebook page dedicated to her son’s illness to support her claim.
“Simply waiving the late fee would have been enough, but this associate went above and beyond by starting a collection for the family at the office,” Rigler said. “The associate wasn’t required to do that, but it was the right thing to do.”
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