3 red flags that staff aren't customer-committed
From first impressions to ongoing support, employees play a pivotal role in building an atmosphere of trust, confidence, and loyalty among customers. Every member of a corporate team has an opportunity to contribute to creating a best-in-class customer experience…or one that fails to deliver.
When equipped with the right tools, information, and motivation to succeed, most employees crave work that positively impacts their end-customers. But despite best intentions, many organizations fall short in mobilizing their employees to realize this impact. Fortunately, there are three red flags leaders can detect that indicate employees may need some help along the path of delivering on the company’s customer-centric vision.
Flag 1: Your customer-centric vision isn’t commercialized beyond a website or wall mural
Your organization likely has a finely crafted vision statement that connects to its reason for being, but that doesn’t matter if employees aren’t familiar with it. The question to ask yourself is, how tightly woven is this statement into the value it brings to customers…and how do employees see themselves delivering on this vision?
Each employee should be able to articulate how your company fits into and improves the customer’s life. As such, the vision statement should resonate with all employees, guiding their sense of fulfillment, their daily actions, and their decision making.
If your organization’s reason for being feels disconnected from the day-to-day goals and actions of your team or function, it may be time to reorient around a shared connection to a broader vision.
This can be accomplished in two ways:
Connect the “why” of your team to the customer: Even if individuals don’t think of themselves as personally responsible for delivering on the company’s vision statement (e.g., accounting or IT teams), they should develop their own view of the value they bring to the organization and the customer. Through both individual reflection and team discussion, work to surface these “whys” and develop a clear purpose for each team or individual role. Once this is articulated, it becomes easier to make the connection between the value your team brings and how that enables the broader organization to deliver on its vision.
Identify recurring mechanisms to connect employees with the broader organizational vision: For the vision to be internalized, it needs to be a part of the everyday fabric of your team’s workings. Make an effort to include connection points to your organizational vision in existing meetings and communications; this reinforces how the work your team is doing supports the value your organization is bringing to the customer. When celebrating success stories for your team, ensure the narrative ties directly to the company’s vision. These stories will illustrate how each employee’s achievements contribute to organizational growth.
Flag 2: Employees aren’t empowered by management to shape the best customer experience
Given employees are often on the frontline of customer interaction and decisions that impact customers’ experience, what better conduit to help craft the ultimate customer experience? Building a 360-degree understanding of your customers and their goals is the first step to employee empowerment. In turn, this puts employees in the driver’s seat to create enduring relationships with those they serve. Shaping meaningful customer experiences can be accomplished by coaching employees in the art of building empathy for the customer, then empowering them to act with customers’ best interests at heart.
Purposefully crafted immersive experiences can replicate customer lifestyles and experiences to help employees internalize their stories while inspiring a greater sense of purpose in serving them. It’s important to ensure each employee can articulate how they create value for the customer, and then empower those who embrace your company’s customer-centric vision to go the extra mile with customers.
Flag 3: Leadership doesn’t incentivize the right behaviors
A great customer experience is preceded by a great employee experience. And, while you may invest in marketing and communication campaigns, there is no better representation of your brand than your employees.
How employees are evaluated has a direct link to the actions they take in their day-to-day decision making. Understanding these criteria and the levers to pull to motivate employee decision making grounded in customer-centric strategy is key to driving forward a broader vision. Furthermore, evangelize and bring the vision to life by creating tailored reward programs and incentives for employees who go above and beyond for customers, and develop narratives around bright spots where they are moving the needle.
While it may seem like a lot to take in, building a customer-centric brand through a customer-committed employee base can be refined into a simple, five-step model for leaders. The image to the right distills a process that involves building a strong foundation, training, empowering and incentivizing employees to co-create impactful customer experiences which, in turn, delivers immeasurable value to customers and your company.
Customer centricity is the key to creating real value for your customers, and ultimately your business. The path to it lies with the creation of a culture where employees are educated, have access to customer information, and are empowered to think like your customers, not just about them.
Embedding a customer-centric mindset within employees requires that they internalize a deep understanding of the customer and feel enabled to pivot based on what becomes — after purposeful training — innate knowledge of customer needs. They no longer need permission to act because they are aligned with leadership on business goals and how to reach them, all with the ultimate objective of keeping customers at the forefront of each decision and interaction. By taking note of the above red flags ahead of time and taking the necessary steps to empower employees to champion the customer experience, brands will continue to raise the bar for best-in-class customer centricity.