Claire SportonClaire SportonMay 13, 2020
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8min1084

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.

 

Interesting Links:


Emma KeelingEmma KeelingApril 17, 2019
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6min1692

We hear a lot of talk nowadays about a company’s culture and values. Why are these so important? What do they add to a company? How can we make sure we live by these values?

The core values of a company are the essence of its identity. They are the principles and beliefs which should underlie every decision. In family-owned and owner-managed businesses, the values often reflect the values of the founder. However, many business owners and directors fail to articulate their values. It can be time-consuming to work out what is truly important to you in a business, so why is it worth the effort?

Company values will guide decisions at every level, big and small; it is just as important for the directors to evaluate their strategy against company values as it is for a receptionist to express these company values when answering the phone. A strong value system will enable directors to delegate more – a company’s values will guide many of the decisions its staff have to make.

A strong value system also simplifies decisions. For example, if a company value is “always to put the client first”, and one afternoon you are pressed and find yourself having to decide between doing something urgent for a client, or working on a big pitch taking place the next day for a large new contract, which should you do?

You refer to your values. Decision made! Looking after your current clients’ needs must come first.

A company culture based on clearly articulated values will inspire your workforce. Employees motivated by the company’s values are likely to work to the best of their ability and speed. The number of sick days taken will fall as a culture of teamwork and support for one another builds. Increased loyalty to an inspiring business will improve employee retention and reduce staff turnover.

Strong company values will similarly attract new recruits, who will want to work for a company with meaning and purpose, where they feel they can add real value.

Strong values don’t just make life easier and more enjoyable for those working at the company – they also become a differentiator for the business in the market place. Customers will be attracted to the culture and know what they are getting. The most popular company values are: 

  • Dependability
  • Reliability
  • Loyalty
  • Commitment
  • Open-mindedness
  • Consistency
  • Honesty
  • Efficiency

Wouldn’t we all be likely to buy from a company delivering on even just three of these values?

A strong culture adds tangibly to the value of a business; when shareholders seek to raise capital or sell their business, they will experience first-hand the importance of a committed and loyal workforce. Investors unfailingly place value on a company’s ability to recruit and retain competent, motivated staff, recognising that this is an indicator of a well-run and successful business.

It is vital to remember that values are caught, not just taught. They have to reflect who we really are – it’s no good the CEO endlessly espousing on values if no one actually lives them out.

It is also a mistake to have too many values, as no-one will be able to remember them all. Three to five is a realistic number, ideally grouped into a memorable acronym. Each value needs to be unpacked and explained regularly so that everyone understands how the values should impact behaviour and decision-making. How about putting them on all your meeting agendas and on the wall in the staff kitchen?

Employees, customers, suppliers, and investors all cry out for a strong company culture; values create enormous value!


Chris DyerChris DyerMarch 20, 2019
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6min2364

Happy employees who are engaged with their work try harder, so, how can we make work their happy place?

Think of it like gardening. Plants want water, fertiliser, and light, and it doesn’t hurt to play the equivalent of a little classical music. Positive, healthy surroundings and the sunshine of encouragement will help your company culture blossom.

1. Start with positive values

One way to avoid the drag of a negative mindset is to actively promote a positive one. Review your company values and operating policies looking for ways to make positive thoughts and acts the norm. If, for example, your mission is to provide great customer service, build on your strengths instead of making up for your shortcomings.

Suppose there’s an issue with a regular client getting the wrong merchandise one month. Instead of starting a team meeting by naming a culprit, begin by determining what is going well. Maybe that client has been with you for five years and recently upgraded their account. Ask the team how you can capitalise on that while solving the problem.

Someone might approach the client to thank them for their loyalty and let them know a revised order is on the way, promising a discount on the next one. The client can be reminded that the upgraded merchandise will better serve their purpose and drive their business, and they can be assured that the cause has been addressed so they won’t be inconvenienced again. 

2. Open communication avenues

When the cause and those responsible for screwing up the order are detected, you’ll have a valuable training moment for everyone on the team to observe. Make it a celebration, not an intervention.

A closed-door meeting with the culprits will affect only those people. A team meeting that debriefs all of the stakeholders opens up that audience, and a company-wide memo on what went on gives everyone the chance to learn from the episode. Maybe the order problem came from a simple misrouting of the request because someone didn’t know who was supposed to get it. Now, everyone will know.

Informing everyone, from executives to employees, about who does what in the company makes it easy to get information to and from the right people. This helps employees do their jobs well and serve the customer well. How else can you get important data to your staff when or before they need it? Tweak your file sharing and database access protocols to be as inclusive as possible.

Knowing who to ask for help or who to include in the information loop makes people proficient and brings them together. Knowing how to move on from mistakes does, too.

3. Cultivate team spirit

We’re all human, so why not acknowledge both the highs and lows of the job? Go ahead and welcome your order culprits into the Honest Mistake Club. A free latte will take some of the sting out of that error and make them want to try harder.

Or, maybe the supply chain glitch was a needed reminder to provide some group training. Learning together is a bonding experience. Train a direct report, and let them guide the rest of the group, managers included.

4. Satisfy emotional needs

Just as plants need water and sunlight to grow, employees need to be physically and mentally ready to do their jobs. Besides being fed and well rested, employees want a say in how they work, the chance to become really good at it, and a sense of belonging to something larger than the task at hand. According to researchers like author Daniel Pink, these things make them happy and more engaged.

This is the real fertiliser for a bountiful company culture. Offer a choice in scheduling or let teams design workflows. Increase responsibility when someone shows they have a knack for some job aspect or provide training for those who don’t. Reinforce that team spirit whenever you get the chance.

Happy is healthy! We can design a happy place enriched with the things that make our ‘flowers’ grow.




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