Shifting Company Culture Towards the Customer

May 13, 20208min

We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ but for customers and businesses alike this statement has never been so true or so important.

Mission statements are quite rightly populated with encouragement: “We put the customer at the heart of our business” and “Customer First”. However, in these current extraordinary times, listening to understand our customers’ and employees’ rapidly changing needs, prioritising what is going to have the biggest impact and of course delivering change must be the number one priority to enable businesses to ride this storm.

Businesses are examining feedback about virtually every aspect of their operations – from policies and processes to messaging and delivery – but company culture is key. Culture is typically what you do when no one is looking but guess what? For many organisations shifting unexpectedly into remote working…no-one is looking!

Achieving the ultimate goal of becoming a truly customer-centric organisation may therefore appear to be an uphill struggle. It’s certainly true that there is no quick fix.

The answer lies in not simply collecting customer feedback about successes and failures but using it to help us change the way people think, behave and act throughout our organisations, even if they are working from home. In other words, to use customer feedback to shift company culture towards customer centricity.

The question is how do you actually inspire employees to make the change? We all know asking large numbers of people to move out of their comfort zones and do things differently is not easy at the best of times. An annual kick-off or away-day can be thought provoking but it doesn’t necessarily help people to break out of the mould when they are back at their desk.

The good news is that although we don’t currently have the opportunity to bring people physically together, we can focus on supporting more customer centric decision making and behaviours as the best way of delivering that culture change.

Listen closely

Being absolutely clear about what is expected is the key to moving the dial and this has certainly been the case for Cromwell, a leading UK and international supplier of high-quality industrial tools and services. It demonstrated its long-term commitment to delivering a truly customer-focused service by creating a dedicated insight function following its acquisition by W.W. Grainger, Inc. in 2015 and then centralising its customer service processes in 2018.

Elaine Barnes, Chief Customer Officer at Cromwell has explained that in order to minimise the impact of organisational changes on its customers, it needed to change its company culture – putting the focus firmly on the customer: “We needed to improve our ability to listen to and respond to customers so that we could enhance the experience across the entire the customer journey.”

Confirmit worked with the team to create and deploy a CX programme that is reflective of customer needs and what Cromwell can do to respond, empowering them throughout the process. In the first month after going live, the company immediately achieved a 12% response rate, delivering critical insights into the issues that matter to customers.

The feedback so far is extremely encouraging and it’s clear that Cromwell’s ability to listen more effectively and to respond immediately to what customers are saying means that people feel that their feedback is being heard. It has already resulted a significant jump in its Net Promoter Score®.

The ongoing challenge is to ensure that the CX programme acts as a catalyst for change outside of the core Insights team. No one person owns CX and the ‘Command and Control’ approach simply doesn’t work. It’s for this reason that around 200 of Cromwell’s employees have been trained to use the insight dashboards to help drive customer centricity across the organisation.

Providing as many people as possible in the organisation with a window into the feedback generated through the CX programme creates what I think of as mini control centres across an organisation, driven by a central hub. Each employee is therefore responsible for using that insight to impact the customer experience in their area of control, in their own way but aligned to a shared vision and ethos.

Cromwell will also be introducing text analytics and launching nine new listening posts covering different states and channels of the customer journey this year. These initiatives, combined with a Voice of the Employee (VoE) and Voice of the Supplier (VoS) programme in the future, will provide another layer of actionable insight from additional touchpoints, alerting and nudging people to make incremental changes.

The insight will not only enhance Cromwell’s ability to carry out root cause analysis to find out the source of customer and wider business issues. It will also enable Cromwell to build a network of champions inside and outside of the organisation.

Lead by example

For me, this is where the heart of customer centricity lies. Data is a great start, actionable insight and nudging people to think outside of the box can make a real difference but the ultimate goal is to create viral change that makes a lasting impact.

Champions shine a light on what is possible and inspire others to follow suit. They can not only answer questions and help to ensure that the value of the CX programme is understood, they can also become the catalyst for new behaviours that you are looking to cultivate. They can share their experiences and prove to others that those behaviours work, encouraging people to join in.

The simple truth is that people help people to make change happen. If, like Cromwell, you ensure that your teams have access to that mini command centre so they are basing their behaviour on something solid, you will also be on the road to achieving your goal of customer centricity.


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Claire Sporton

Claire Sporton

Claire Sporton is Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Innovation at Voice of the Customer experts Confirmit. She has a passion for building truly customer-centric cultures that inspire change and deliver measurable business improvement.

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