The delivery of your customer experience strategy could bear little resemblance to what was intended and its intent diluted, distorted and service delivery potentially dysfunctional. This scenario is an extreme version of what could happen but adopting the principles of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) could increase employee engagement in customer experience strategies.

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) references the processes by which humans communicate through the five senses – mainly visually, auditory or kinaesthetically, but also olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste). It references the fact that there may be a preference to seeing, listening or doing for how we take in information, how we internalise and then communicate through language, and how we learn. Whilst it may not be possible to understand the individual communication preferences for each employee – communications that act on the three main senses will likely improve the chances of it becoming as clear as a bell! Do you see what I mean? Can you feel this making sense? Do you hear what I am saying?

For customer experience strategies to work employees must understand their role in the context of the strategic vision of the company, be equipped with the skills and tools to deliver the strategy (the two are not the same), understand and receive feedback on whether or not their performance is aligned with customer experience goals, and finally, be motivated to achieve and potentially go beyond what is required. Perhaps there is nothing new here but bringing a strategy to life for employees could involve the integration of the three senses. The points below are relevant to front-line staff in call centres, shops and branches but require the buy-in, understanding and onward communication from senior staff. An internal communications work plan could look as follows, applying the principle of the senses to each area. Consider how the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic support one another.

Purpose and connection: Understand their role in the context of the strategic vision of the company

  • Work with employees in the development of the vision to ensure buy-in further on in the process. This could involve workshops that focus on all three senses.
  • Once the vision is constructed, create a video that can be watched by any employee – set aside time for employees to see it; create a link that employees could use at home on their own PCs.
  • Hear line managers explain their team’s specific role in the vision.
  • Physically take part in an event designed to communicate the importance of a quality customer experience journey.
  • Provide materials on the strategic vision that can be read.

Competencies: Be equipped with the skills and tools to deliver the strategy (the two are not the same)

  • Teach customer service through manuals, videos and active training sessions.
  • Remind and encourage through posters.
  • Create internal informal discussions to discuss how people feel about the skills they have and the tools they are given.
  • Invite customers in to talk about how they use products/the service to highlight the positive and negative experiences they have.
  • Where relevant, explain how the organisation’s processes work so employees understand and appreciate their role in the process and any complexities involved e.g. necessary delays in the availability of stock or quotations.

Performance: Understand and receive feedback on whether or not their performance is aligned with customer experience goals

  • Show employees examples of exceptional performance linked to how employees felt about delivering the experience.
  • Provide mentors to support employees and show employees how to perform.
  • Use written customer feedback at the most relevant and accessible level to support the right behaviours.

Motivated: Be motivated to achieve and potentially go beyond what is required

  • Hear from employees about how they feel about working with the organisation.
  • Hear from senior management on where the company is going and how employees need to be part of it.
  • Read about career opportunities and how employees have succeeded in the organisation.
  • Bring complaints to life. Listen to customer calls of complaints and show letters to staff to encourage empathy with customers when things go wrong.
  • Provide video vox pops of customers demonstrating the impact of a positive customer service experience.

With all of these things in place there is a greater chance for success; however, there is one critical piece missing. Providing employees with the tools to deliver the strategy can be a problem and a bone of contention. If you are asking employees to go above and beyond the call of duty but the processes and systems are not in place to enable to them to provide information to customers, process their orders or transfer them between departments efficiently, then it can damage motivation and performance. Customers expect a seamless interface and a consistent experience.

Finally, the vision and strategy itself has to be sustainable and suitably differentiating to retain customers and grow the business.

Peter ShreevePeter Shreeve is an independent research consultant. He is currently leading the market research function at the Open University and his approach to understanding the enquirer journey have strongly influenced the shape of the new enquirer website (launched April 2014).   He is also a part-time lecturer and tutor on CIM Marketing courses for the University of Buckingham and Oxford College of Marketing.  Above all he is passionate about ensuring the customer is front and centre when brands develop new processes, products and messaging.  He has written articles that have appeared on,,, Argent magazine and ESOMAR.

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