Customer Experience Starts with Employee Experience
Our guest, Diane S Hopkins, author of Unleashing The Chief Moments Officers, shared the methodology she uses to help organizations transform their customer experiences in our May webinar. In her Exceptional Experience Strategy Map, an organization needs to move their culture from thinking about customer experience as an "initiative" to an internal "instinct" that anticipates customer's needs and has the skillsets to exceed the expected consistently.
Customer-first vs. Employee-first?
You can have both, but it will not be easy or a transformation that happens overnight. There are a few key things to consider as you begin the process.
Developing Problem Solving Skills
In traditional professional development practices, organizations focus on skills-based training. It is a critical part of advancement for companies and their employees to invest in the skills required for their role and prepare them for the next step in their career path. We tend to spend less time and money on the soft skills needed to build emotional intelligence (EI). Empowering your employees to act instinctively requires improving their EI. As depicted in the Junto Institutes' graphic of Building Blocks of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, it begins with self-awareness. Although this learning is not linear, you can build other self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills once you have mastered self-awareness.
Co-Creation of the Exceptional Experience
Diane noted that defining exceptional is challenging because every customer has their unique view of what constitutes a memorable experience. Those who interface with customers and deliver their products and services behind the scenes must help define and refine the experience. Transforming to an Instinct Culture requires electing a cross-section of people in different roles throughout your company to re-engineer the customer experience. Tapping into the different viewpoints and interactions will broaden perspective and engage your workforce in being a part of the solution. Employees buy into something they help create. Through surveys, interviews, and online reviews, getting customer feedback is a way to test and measure your progress and success.
Foster Work / Life Harmony
It is an exciting time for business. But leaders have been pushed to unknown limits with the Pandemic. It is essential to pause and take inventory of how it has impacted our customers and employees. Unlearning Your Organizational Culture, a playbook published by the Center for Creative Leadership, champions unlearning the "More is More" work ethic. They note that every additional hour of work does not equate to an increase in productivity. Working too many hours undermines individual and team effectiveness and diminishes performance over time. The better approach is counterintuitive: employees must rest, recharge, and recover. It is challenging to balance this with the increase in demand and the talent shortage many companies are feeling. The risk of burnout is real and will have a direct impact on the customer experience.
Employees that feel burnt out are a flight risk which also affects a company's ability to deliver. The playbook offers tips on combating burnout. Setting boundaries with email automation for requests that come after hours, taking a walking or outdoor meeting, and maximizing breaks with music or meditation. Customers feel it too, and we need to employ some of these practices in our customer relationships. Diane's notion of extreme listening would be a great place to start. With all of our connectedness, it is challenging not to cave into these distractions.
Building a company that customers want to work with and employees want to work for is not simple, but it will be worth it when both employee and customer satisfaction are high.