Phil Durand is Director of CX Management at Confirmit and  judged at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.

The nominees for the Best Use of Insight & Feedback category – which was won by BT Consumer – at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards quite rightly highlighted the importance of securing executive buy-in and engaging employees to go the ‘extra mile’. However, what most impressed me were those organisations that stressed the need for effective storytelling to drive culture change.

Taking a systematic approach to capturing Customer Experience (CX) across an organisation helps them to track and drive CX improvements across the globe. Companies who place emphasis on the value of clear journey mapping; consistent customer metrics; real-time reporting; and individual case management will certainly see the benefits.

Gathering customer intelligence across multiple touchpoints is vital, as is providing business leaders with strategic dashboards to help identify the big issues for customers and increase the focus on driving improvement across key metrics.

However, it’s storytelling that really makes a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme sing. Yes, the willingness of the executive team to make CX a board-level issue is essential. Establishing customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets certainly brings CX into the heart of the business. Yet the ability to get the message across to employees – at all levels, regardless of whether they are customer facing or even have the word ‘customer’ in their job titles – about their role in delivering a great Customer Experience is what really delivers success.

Why? Because employees are more likely to use their initiative on the front line if they feel that they have the skills and, more importantly, permission to resolve customer issues ‘on the spot’.

Storytelling – sharing real customer stories and examples of best practice – is instrumental in enabling organisations to move beyond pure metrics and to embed an ‘outside-in’ view of customers’ needs and wants into everything they do. Having a vision or a long-term goal for CX is great, but to create a truly customer-centric organisation, you must encourage everyone in the business to make CX part of their DNA. It is not just the preserve of the customer service or marketing team.

In order to present your CX programme as a story that people will listen to, identify with – and more importantly, act upon – you have to ensure that your employees understand three things:

  • The purpose of the CX programme (the desire to become market leader or to be customer-centric, for example)
  • The characters involved (the company, employees, customers, competitors)
  • The plot (what has changed, where are the bottlenecks, how can things be improved and what has already made a difference?)

Roadshows that showcase real customers, real experiences, and real feedback are a good example of how to put storytelling into practice and literally show employees what role they could play in the overall CX production. The lasting engagement achieved at these ‘show and tell’ sessions is something that simply can’t be achieved just by sharing improvements in metrics – no matter how good the graph!

Similarly, offering a non-prescriptive guide to what ‘good practice’ looks like can provide a reference tool kit that enables employees to draw upon what has worked for others. They can then devise solutions that are appropriate for each customer and situation, without seeking management approval. The trick here is to track results so you don’t have different people making the same mistakes.

Sharing good news stories about excellent Customer Experience as part of a proactive internal communications programme will ensure that the stock of exemplar case studies for employees to reference as part of ongoing training and learning programmes is constantly refreshed.

It’s also essential to add good and bad customer comments and verbatims alongside NPS, NES, and NSS scores to bring these key metrics to life, enabling employees to draw a direct line between scorecards and actual Customer Experience.

In my opinion, it’s this ability to translate flat data into coaching and learning aids that ultimately makes a VoC programme thrive. Persuade everyone in the organisation to join the CX cast of many – narrating, performing, and sharing stories of success – and your CX programme can become the greatest show on earth.

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