As a customer experience leader, you need to have a good understanding of your organization’s culture. The culture is defined by actions, not words. It is consistent behaviors that give people direction on what to “model.” It’s decisions made and actions taken that prove that the customer commitment is real and not lip service. It’s easier to gain clarity on what these actions should be if you’ve developed a set of core values.
Let me ask you this — how many years have you been doing this work? When did you begin to make progress? Your answer is probably directly connected to how engaged your leadership team has been with you, and how much they take personal ownership of this work with you.
Leadership Must Have Consistent and United Behaviors
This Customer Experience transformation will only occur with consistent and united behaviors, communications, and actions practiced by leaders. In order for this to work, you have to understand the following:
- This must also be your work and the work of a united leadership team.
- The leadership team must model new behaviors in how they lead.
- Repeated and consistent messaging and actions must exist among leaders.
- Actions must be congruent with our stated commitment to customer-driven growth.
“Customer Culture” is talked about by many leaders but misunderstood by most organizations. That is because it is spoken of as a concept, rather than attached to deliberate behavior and consideration of customers’ and employees’ lives. Deliberate behaviors such as, “We will go to market only after these ten customer requirements are met.” Or, “Every launch must meet these five conditions the field requires for success. We won’t launch without them, no exceptions.”
The role of the chief customer officer is to work with leaders to unite behavior. It is to unite actions; to provide proof to the organization that this leadership team is committed to driving growth by improving customers’ lives.
Moving well past words, a deliberate and united set of actions and behaviors practiced in a unison is required.
Three common categories of behavior are necessary as the leadership team works together to build out the five competencies.
When these show up consistently they prove that a commitment to customer-driven growth is possible.
- Uniting the leadership team in communication, decision-making, and action.
- Giving permission and behaviors to model.
- Proving it with actions.
Behavior 1: Unite the Leadership TeamUnited leadership team prioritization, messaging, and partnerships need to be seen and experienced by employees so they can model this behavior with their own peers. The leadership team must be united in how they support and enable people to deliver value, so the company can earn the right to customer-driven growth.
As the role of the CCO has matured along with the importance of delivering a one-company experience, greater clarity exists among leaders on the importance of uniting. Without it, we experience what I call “situational commitment.” During meetings when customer conversations are held, there’s an agreement — but when the meeting disbands, every leader translates, interprets, and communicates inconsistently back to their own departments. Customer experience efforts should begin by engaging and aligning leaders to understand the actions, resources, and commitment necessary.
Behavior 2: Give Permission and Model Desirable Behaviors
Employees, customers, and partners need proof that your actions match your words. With every decision you make, employees and customers are watching. People will model the example you set by your decisions. You need to give them permission with good examples to follow. I call this “marketing hope.” There’s a deliberateness that leaders must learn to take in decision-making. It’s making good decisions and marketing them, which will give your transformation life.
Behavior 3: Prove it with Actions—Establish One-Company Accountability
The Achilles’ heel of this work is how customer issues and problems are often tossed out to a silo. Or silos individually dissect survey results and take actions. There is a galvanizing action you can take to help get you out of the fray of the silo-by-silo projects and report-outs.
To do so, we need to unite leaders for regular and customer experience accountability. We get great traction with many clients by holding what we call a “Customer Room.” Convened monthly and quarterly prior to annual planning, the customer room unites leaders to understand customers’ lives, their journey with your company, and emerging issues that require focus.
In the customer room, the outcomes of the competencies are presented by stage of the experience. Content is constantly refreshed with multiple sources of customer listening, trending of information, videos, and examples of experiences. This moves “customer-centric” activities from the once-per-year energy expended when the survey results come out, to recurring focus by a united leadership team to improving customers’ lives and driving growth.
And most importantly, in the customer room, leaders together pick the priorities. Together they identify their team members who will participate. together they require monthly accountability from these teams in subsequent customer rooms. Building a customer room to drive monthly, quarterly, and annual accountability is one of the secret weapons that we use to align leaders and drive united prioritization and action.