Building a customer-centric culture is harder than it sounds. These tips will put you on the path to customer experience success.
“The customer comes first.”
“The customer is always right.”
“We live to serve our customers.”
These sayings feel so trite and cliche, it’s easy to think businesses are obviously putting their customer first. We’ve all heard this a million times, right? We must be doing it. But sayings like this are easy in theory, and hard in practice.
It takes concerted effort to build a customer-focused culture, and that effort is more important than ever. According to a 2018 Salesforce survey, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.
A customer-focused culture ensures that experiences and products/services are catering to your customers’ needs. That’s why creating this culture is the third crucial part of our series on CX pillars.
So far in this series, we’ve covered how to better understand your customers and how to create customer experiences. Those articles will help you build a customer-focused culture, but they’ll get you only partway.
5 tips for customer-focused culture success
The most successful CX happens when companies think beyond individual experiences and build customer consideration into their company processes and policies.
Here are five ways you can do just that.
1. Keep listening
We covered several customer listening strategies in our first CX pillar post about ways to better understand your customer. There’s a lot of overlap between building a listening culture and building a customer-centric culture.
The more you seek to understand your customer, the more focused you’ll be in meeting their needs. A voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program is especially valuable in this regard, since it diversifies sources of feedback and establishes an ongoing program for checking in and listening.
Finding the right data collection cadence is key. This varies from organization to organization, but as part of your listening efforts, check back in with your journey map once a year to make sure nothing major has changed. And when it comes to collecting effectiveness data or your VoC, some measures may be most valuable when collected monthly or even weekly. Larger organizations are aiming for continuous listening, aided by survey software.
Whatever system you use, start by collecting and analyzing data on at least a biweekly basis. After a few months go by, reassess to see whether that’s too often, or not often enough.
2. Meet your customers where they are
Once you’ve listened to your customers, you’ll have a better idea of where they are. This can mean a lot of things, and we’re using an intentionally broad interpretation.
If your customer base spends far more time on Twitter than any other social platform, you should be devoting the bulk of your resources to Twitter. But it isn’t only about channel or location.
Meeting your customers where they are also means speaking their language. Is your website loaded with jargon? Are your customer support agents using internal acronyms only other employees can understand? Do you have clear examples of your product or service, or is your language too vague to be helpful?
Conduct an audit of all communication touch points with the customer. This includes social, customer support, email, and your website—anywhere your customer is receiving information about your company. Using your customer data, evaluate whether you have the right channel mix and whether you’re speaking your customer’s language, not just your own.
3. Work customer empathy into touch points, processes, and policies
Gartner expects that through 2020, empathetic customer process design will have as great of an impact on business growth as marketing activity (full article available to Gartner clients). Understanding builds empathy, and empathy builds trust. Customers who feel understood and acknowledged are more likely to be loyal to your business.
We talked already about making a customer journey map, which is an exercise in empathy. That’s a great start for evaluating whether customer touch points and processes are providing a good, fast, and convenient experience. But companies should also take a big-picture look at company processes and policies.
Is your customer service process empathetic toward frustrated customers? Do company policies honor customer privacy? Do you have company policies that encourage helpfulness, fairness, and honesty?
Take a high-level look at your organization to identify areas in which empathy can be improved from the inside out. Start by building empathy into company policy, and empathetic interactions will flow outward—especially if you couple this approach with incentivizing employees (more on that below).
4. Strengthen workplace collaboration
A customer-focused culture asks that all employees have a sense of how their role and behaviors affect CX. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day job demands, and a customer-focused culture keeps the shared goal of serving customers at the forefront of employees’ minds.
Here are some ways to kick-start customer consideration and collaboration across teams:
- Send out a biweekly or monthly email across teams that include key CX metrics and recent performance.
- Hold semi-annual brainstorming meetings with stakeholders across teams for ways to improve CX.
- Start CX improvement projects that include stakeholders across teams.
- Hold an annual meeting with stakeholders across teams to re-validate your customer journey map.
- Set up monthly or bimonthly coffee meetups so employees from different teams can discuss their work and its connection to the customer experience.
- Invest in office collaboration or team communication software so employees across teams can easily communicate and work together.
5. Incentivize employees
Policies, products, and digital touch points can be optimized for better CX, but at its core, a customer-focused culture is about human beings: the relationships between your employees and your customers.
A culture of engaged, satisfied employees trickles down to create loyal, satisfied customers. A 2018 Gartner survey of CX leaders and influencers found that employee engagement was in the top three most commonly used CX metrics, after customer satisfaction (CSAT) and product/service quality (full research available to Gartner clients).
There are many ways to encourage employees to treat your customers as they’d want to be treated, the first being to treat the employees themselves well.
Take a look at these talent management articles from our HR expert Brian Westfall to learn more about creating an environment in which your employees can thrive and contribute positively to your business:
How technology can aid culture change
Although culture change is a human endeavor, certain technologies can help the process along by automating reminders, listening, or encouragement.
- Customer experience or survey software can improve your customer listening program.
- Customer journey mapping tools can strengthen your journey mapping activities.
- Employee collaboration software can ease cross-team collaboration.
- Gamification software can incentivize customer service employees and motivate strong performance.
Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.