How to Build Customer-Centric Culture
Before we address how to build customer-centric culture, let’s examine the terminology: what culture is and what it is not. Culture is not executives talking about high level strategy. Equally, it is not your Brand Book. The language surrounding business strategy and brand management assumes a certain level of business acumen not required of every position in an organization. Strategy and branding are business management tools. They do not cover HOW employees work with each other and interact with customers. Some employees might not even understand some of the business language you use when you speak (and are too embarrassed to admit it)
What leaderships says on stage at a company offsite is just the first step of building customer-centric culture. As a matter of fact, if the leader does not follow through with culture driven actions, s/he risks creating a bad culture. The bigger the gap between what the leaders says and does, the greater the risk to culture. In short, culture is the alignment of what leaders say and what they do.
Let’s say a leader claims his organization has a results-driven culture. Then, he goes on to promote an employee who did not deliver results. With this misalignment, she created culture of mistrust in leadership, not the results-driven one he intended. The results driven-culture required that low performer be fired.
What is Customer-Centric Culture?
Now, let’s talk about what customer-centric culture is. The premise is that the ways executives and employees speak and act start with the customer (a customer-first mindset) and prioritize customer needs over other stakeholders’ (ie: shareholders, and, even, employees).
So, how to build customer-centric culture?
It is a difficult thing to do. You need to figure out how to motivate your employees to put the customer first. And the only way for employees to do this is if their needs are already met. In other words, your employees can focus entirely on the customer when they are happy.
This is why we talk so much about employee experience as a first step in any customer experience project. Because, although this connection is not always obvious to leadership, for any organization to build customer-centric culture they first must build an employee-centric culture.
Co-create with Employees
I cannot tell you how often we meet with prospective clients who tell us they just finished a culture engagement. But, for some reason, the culture is not coming through in customer interactions. In other words, their people are not acting in accordance with the organizational values.
My next question is always the same. Were employees involved in creating the culture? The answer is always no.
Unless employees are engaged in the build out of your organization’s culture, they will not understand exactly what is expected of them. So do not expect that when you tell a call agent, “one of our values is CARING,” he will go above and beyond when customers call. Your employees are not mind readers. Nor do they have your vantage point in the business. You have to translate the concepts into actions that pertain to their jobs. Or even better, ASK your employees what they can do in their day-to-day interactions to express CARING to your customers.
And don’t forget to ask what can YOU do to help them exercise CARING every day. Be willing to provide the training, technology, or procedure changes asks that will come your way.
Empower Frontline Employees
In his book “Customers for Life”, Carl Sewell wrote “The people who deal with customers must have the authority to resolve problems.” Customer-centric culture assumes employees who interact with customers have the POWER to fix customer problems and provide services above and beyond, when needed. Let’s make sure that is true.
To build customer-centric culture, you need to go through the exercise of mapping as many customer needs scenarios as possible. Then, you need to calibrate your procedures and technology to empower your employees to be the customer solution at every customer touchpoint.
Let’s take high end, elite sound equipment provider BOSE as an example. I am an existing customer since 2017, who already has purchased 3 or 4 pairs of $200+ headphones. My lifetime value is pretty high. Last night, my customer journey stared online. The chat agent could only provide 20% off for my last transaction if HE ordered the headphones. But, he was not allowed to receive payment from me via chat. Here is a procedure that handicapped the agent to solve customer problems.
Keep in mind that customer-centric culture lives as much in the small things as the big things. To continue with my example, after a digital pay link failed to process my payment with 3 different cards, I was told to call BOSE in order to pay for the headphones, only to be told they are also not allowed to accept payment.
So, let’s evaluate what happened. A repeat customer, changed 3 channels and was unable to complete a simple purchase. A quick search of the BOSE website showed Value as one of their values (“Together, we create value for our customers.”) I have no doubt this is a commitment at the top.
However, customer-centric culture needs to include the seamless end-to-end purchasing customer journey with the technology and procedures design it requires.
Become an NPS Shop
I might sound like a broken record talking about customer feedback again. It is only because we keep interacting with firms (big and small) that do not collect customer and employee feedback.
If you want to know how to build customer-centric culture, don’t skip this step. You must collect both customer and employee feedback. Full stop. And make sure it is not the last thing on your roadmap that never happens. Collecting customer feedback is the first step of becoming customer-centric. You simply must know what your customers think about your products, services and overall experience.
How can you make the claim your have customer-centric culture if you do not know what your customers think?
Focus on Actions
To wrap up, customer centric-culture is not what your leadership and employees say. It is the alignment between what they say and what they do.
To build a network of actions that happen consistently, engage your employees in the architecture of those actions.
As the the leader, you also need to behave accordingly. At your level, what that means is you need to rule in favor of customer experience. Even when the business case has negative ROI.
You may also have to spend money on a new procedure (or two, or five) that makes the customer experience more effortless, at the expense of your P&L.
And, last but not least, you can no longer promote employees only on results. Going forward you MUST factor in HOW those employees achieved these results. If the answer is by failing to respect the culture you claim you have, you need to pass on promoting that rising star. And that will hurt. For all.
But then again, nobody said building customer centric culture is easy.
Customer Experience Audit: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audit – as series of articles featuring examples of good customer experience and bad customer experience in practice….
Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time
Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.
Customer Experience Audit: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a Customer Experience Audit series. See all the audit stories. The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of…
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
How to Be an Entrepreneur: 5 Things I Learned in 5 Months as an Entrepreneur
The life of an entrepreneur is different every day, but the one thing that remains the same is that we are always learning. These are my lessons in how to…
From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience
Argyle Journal interviewed Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports. One such way, as Liliana explains, is to create magical customer experience…
CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in.
Human Experience: Do You Really Know Your Customers?
Steve Jobs said: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” He did not just say that….
How a Personal Interaction builds Repeat Customers
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
The One CX Goal You Need to Set for 2019
For 2019, I urge you to make only one CX goal – bring about business success with your customer experience work. Don’t just do work in the general sense. Rather, set a CX goal that has a real impact on your customers and their experiences with your brand.
Customer Experience Survey: Why Customers Are Not Responding
When you solicit customer feedback sometimes matters more than how you ask the questions. In the case of a survey about new biometrics boarding initiatives my team and I created for JetBlue, we had a list of feedback that was most important for us.
Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI on your Customer Experience initiatives quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
Holiday Wishes for Great CX: Career Advice Edition
Every successful customer experience initiative starts with a skilled CX team. Brush up on your CX skills to strengthen the business case for CX; to develop relationships within your organization; and to deliver standout customer experiences in the new year.
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
What is the best question for your CX Survey?
As customer experience professionals, we need to factor in this disconnect when we design surveys. And when we react to survey results. Customers have an image of who they want to be. However, their behaviors do not always reflect that image.
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
Travel Experience Stories: How Not to Leave Customers Stranded
Meet Diane. Diane is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is the one annual trip she takes. And she…
What Can Casino Consulting Firms Learn from Airlines?
Today we’re talking about casino experience. Casinos and airlines are similar in their operational complexity and sense of wonder. They also are similar in the way they can implement technology…
Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce
How to balance the efficiency call center metric FCR (first call resolution) with wait and talk time? JetBlue promotes human interactions as a brand promise.
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
Create Your Tribe: How Great CX Makes a Lifestyle Brand
Newcomers to the market realize that their business is only as strong as the growth of their customer base. With that in mind, senior leaders work hard to shorten the distance between them and the customer.
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines and its organizational culture. Initially, I thought about United Airlines culture because someone asked whether it is possible to build a customer-centric…
Why you need a defined culture for customer experience?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
Employee Engagement and Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article about employee engagement and organizational culture. This piece is by Natalie DeVito, of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company,…
Customer Experience Audit: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase
The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships.
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
Brand and Customer Experience – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience…
Healthcare Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about patient experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction….
Customer Experience Design – How Do You Want Customers To Feel?
Last week, we talked about CX Design in terms of space and function. Today, we continue our customer experience design journey to talk about the design of emotions and feelings. All…
End to End Customer Experience – How to Get it Right
When we think of travel, we often think of the flight experience. But the end to end customer experience is complex, and includes all modes of transportation that get you…
Why Bt2B Businesses Must Think Like B2C in the Next Decade
B2B vs B2B thinking makes a real difference when it comes to customer experience. According to Gartner at least 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as…
Why You Need Culture Not Call Center Training for Customer-Centric CX
If the organization does not understand what customer experience is, you will not get the funding or organizational support you need to build customer-centric experiences.
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
Are You Ready to Go Exclusive with Jane, Your Digital Concierge?
In 2015 JetBlue introduced bag fees. Seven years after the competition. The media exploded. Many publications were negative. They blamed the airline for “selling out.” One headline read “A New…
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…