Execution is a critical stage in any customer experience initiative. Many organizations conduct journey mapping and future state design workshops, develop a CX vision and mission, and even launch VOC programs… But while your fresh new customer experience strategy might sound great on paper, unless it’s activated properly and your employees are genuinely motivated to make change, even the best CX initiatives will flounder.
It’s crucial that managers empower their employees with the skills needed to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Knowledge alone won’t improve your CX — your employees need to be inspired and motivated to guarantee an effective rollout.
Start with a bang and disrupt the status quo
Employees will certainly be watching your activation program and probably won’t take a low-key, in-house training very seriously, even if it’s mandatory. Communicate how important this CX initiative is for the company, and that you need all hands on deck for success. Use a variety of tools (from videos and music to games and role-playing) to create excitement and demonstrate that your company is serious about change. Staff will want to come along for the ride!
Prepare your managers to lead and your employees to deliver
We often find that managers are the weakest link in mobilizing around customer experience. Many long-term managers have developed a cynical approach to change and lack the skill set to truly engage employees. They’re managers of KPIs, not people. We teach managers how to lead by example. This may sound like a standard leadership skill set, but we’ve seen that this kind of education hasn’t been provided to the majority of managers.
We also coach employees who struggle with change, conduct team huddles, and reward employees who demonstrate commitment to the customer service initiative. Your CX activation program should empower employees with new tools and the skill set to use them. It’s natural for employees to be fearful of making mistakes, and the status quo often feels safer. To put employees at ease and instill confidence, facilitate practice runs and share stories of those who have delivered best-in-class customer experiences.
Remove additional barriers to empowerment and change
When working on a new customer experience strategy for a client in the arts and entertainment industry, we offered cash to employees who told us about “stupid processes” that hindered their ability to serve customers. We walked through the main performance hall and corporate office, received great input from employees, and discovered a process improvement that more than funded the whole initiative.
In our experience, providing a basic process, template, and starter content for daily team huddles and monthly team action planning bridges the gap between positive intent and real, tactical action.
Deliver the message with “surround sound” communications
It’s important to view inspiring employees as an ongoing process, not something that can be checked off the list after one event. In fact, after an exciting employee activation session, some employees will expect your CX program to die on the vine. They’ve probably been through many “program du jour” campaigns and they’ll anticipate that your organization’s commitment will wither when the next shiny toy is discovered. Prove them wrong.
From day one, design your customer experience program with 12-24 months of “surround sound” activities. Communicate frequently with your employees and provide ideas for execution. Reach out across all available channels, from internal portals to LinkedIn to posters on your office wall. One powerful tactic is to collect, select, and celebrate stories of your CX strategy and recognize those employees who are making it happen. This will allow you to highlight the impact long after the initial “big bang” has passed.
In a nutshell, immerse your staff in an environment where the message is clear: “Customer experience is not going away — join the movement!”
Customer experience is about the people who create it
Always keep in mind that CX strategies aren’t executed from the top, but by the thousands of employees who have the power to deliver exceptional performances.
In the final blog in our customer experience consulting 101 series, we’ll discuss how to amplify your organizational transformation.