Top 5 CX habits for 2019: Focus on fostering a customer-centric culture

By Claire Sporton, SVP, Customer Experience Innovation, Confirmit

Thank goodness for British Summer Time! Hopefully you have adapted to the loss of an hour and have adjusted any of your remaining analogue clocks to the right time. With the added daylight, there really is no reason not to fine tune your Customer Experience Resolutions for 2019.

With Spring firmly in our grasp, let’s turn our attention to the fourth CX habit that CX Leaders have proven to be the most effective route to CX success.

We’ve already talked about defining goals and business outcomes, urged greater focus on innovation and action and listening to more voices and combining more sources.

So it should come as no surprise that our focus should now be on what it takes to foster a customer-centric culture.

Habit #4 – Focus on customer-centric culture

The research into the ‘Habits of highly effective CX professionals’ showed the importance of driving a customer-centric culture.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that our respondents stated time and time again that there is very real need for high employee engagement at all levels of the organisation. From the front-line, customer-facing employees, through to middle management across silos, and of course at Board level.

And in mature programmes that benefit from full executive support, culture is repeatedly cited as a source of pride and growth.

When asked, CX professionals highlighted culture as one of the key pillars of a successful programme. 28% said they were most proud of their focus on creating a customer-centric culture. And when considering where CX professionals see the next 12 months’ investment being best used, answers linked to culture came a close second only to technology. CX Leaders also said that the desire to build a customer-centric culture was one of the main reasons they were expecting more investment in CX.

We believe that this shows that companies that foster a great customer-centric culture tend to be on a virtuous circle. One where executive support and employee engagement combine to fuel the right behaviours, drive the right initiatives, and link to positive business outcomes.

Clearly the challenge is to get the balance right – between focusing on driving engagement with the Senior Leadership Team and ensuring that we give equal weight to understanding the needs of our other stakeholders – managers, front line team members but also our partners and others within our experience ecosystem.  Only when we have every group bought into the programme if it’s to deliver long lasting success.

It’s therefore crucial that if you want to change the organisational culture to one that is ‘customer obsessed’ you need to put together a communications strategy that helps the wider business understand what you’re doing and why. 57% of companies that we identified as Leaders have this communications strategy in place, compared to only 35% of Laggards.

The validity of this approach is proven by comparing this year’s results to 2017 which shows that there has been a definite increase in companies that invest the time and resources needed for an internal communication strategy that promotes the need for culture change and the CX programme overall.

The ability of an organisation to share the vision, celebrate successes, and recognise areas of improvement is key to promoting the customer-centric culture needed to support a successful CX programme.

As one respondent said: “Executives now regularly speak the language of CX… which is gratifying given that no one was talking about CX a few years ago.”

Another interesting proof point is through an award programme that we run. In demonstrating the business impact of CX, the most common area that entrants to the ACE Awards reference is a change in organisational culture. Several of this year’s entrants have noted that putting customers at the heart of the decision making is now a “central pillar” of company-wide goals, or that CX-based actions are being added to corporate scorecards for the year.

That’s great news but what should CX professional keep top of mind if they want to drive culture change? After all, it’s one thing to talk the talk, but…well, you know the rest.

  • Take an ‘inside out’ approach: you might think that in order to be more customer-centric, you would start with the customer but that’s not necessarily the case. Employees can be the key enabler of transformation provided they feel part of the process. Ensure that employees are both happy and engaged if you want them to embrace culture change and elevate the customer experience in turn.
  • Become an agile listener: implement a Voice of the Employee programme that combines pro-active, solicited surveys at key stages of the employee lifecycle with unsolicited, reactive approaches such as online comment boxes and social media sources.
  • Take action: If you want employees to be ‘customer obsessed’, they need to know that their suggestions for improvements are being heard and, more importantly acted upon. Taking action not only delivers immediate and long-term business improvements. It also creates a virtuous circle whereby employees are willing to contribute their views because they can see that their ideas are being used to drive positive change.
  • Harness the power of storytelling: Nothing proves the value of customer-centric change like a ‘rescue or delight’ story from a colleague! Include regular case studies as a core component of your internal communications strategy so that employees can be enthused by their colleagues of the direct benefits of process improvements and change initiatives.

Join the conversation: Is your organisation ‘customer obsessed’? What advice would you give to CX professionals striving to focus on fostering a customer-centric culture? Tweet me at @ClaireSporton