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Why Senior Management Need to Change Their Behaviour to Transform the Customer Experience

Mike Ashton
Posted: 02/01/2016

Mike Ashton, Managing Director of customer experience specialists ABCG, discusses why senior managers need to change their own behaviour if they want to improve the customer experience delivered by the entire organisation.

My conversations with business leaders suggest that the challenge of delivering a customer experience (CX) that’s distinctive, consistent and proven to create commercial value tops the agenda in many board rooms. The principal concern appears to be planning, inspiring and executing sustained, coherent change in the way organisations respond to changing customer needs and market conditions.

I’ve found that one of the main barriers to customer experience delivery in an organisation can be resistance to change within the leadership team. This may reflect failure to recognise that a company’s customer experience is out of step with customer expectations and can be compounded by lack of experience in managing complex change on a large scale.

Whatever the reason, failure to respond to changing customer demands is damaging with 97 per cent of companies saying in an Oracle study that improving customer experience is critical to bottom line delivery and the cost of customer experience failure being estimated at 20 per cent of annual revenue.

SEE ALSO: CX is Heating Up – Staggering Stats for Your C-Suite

Where corporate leadership is unwilling or unable to respond to the need for change in customer experience the symptoms are easy enough to spot:

  • Lack of strategy and vision to guide customer experience delivery
  • Inconsistent leadership causing frustration and confusion across the organisation
  • Lack of prioritised investment at critical touch points
  • Processes that inhibit flexibility and speed of response
  • Silo structure and ways of working that inhibit collaboration and agility


4 Key Performance Areas to Review


Here then, are four performance areas that we find are useful for senior teams to review to optimise the customer experience.

1. Belief

Good CX is rooted in shared belief and appreciationof customer attitudes and behaviour and how this needs to shape strategy. Customer focussed planning that drives customer experience strategy and is tied delivery of key corporate goals is therefore critical.

The output is an operationally and financially robust customer experience plan that forms an integral part of corporate strategy and is owned and understood by the senior management team with clear individual accountabilities.

Specific areas to work on within the planning process:

  • Customer needs
  • Positioning gaps
  • Vision and strategy
  • Investment priority
  • Operationaldelivery
     

2. Collaboration

Powerful customer experience depends on coherent and consistent delivery at multiple touch points. This requires alignment that transcends functional boundaries and addresses interdependency between teams to deliver shared goals.

Collaborative ways of working are therefore critical to success and must be hard-wired into corporate processes, decision making and management style to supersede organisational silos and heighten speed, flexibility and innovation.

Specific areas to address:

  • Shared belief
  • Accountabilities
  • Dependencies
  • Ways of working
  • Signature behaviours
     

3. Communication

Customers expect prompt and effective resolution at point of delivery. Staff therefore need to understand what’s required of them, why this is important and how to deliver.

Effective internal communication that cuts through, wins hearts and minds and inspires ownership at all levels of the organisation is therefore vital, supported by good training and supportive processes.   

Specific areas to address:

  • Explain why change is needed
  • Inspiring ownership and commitment
  • Involve everyone in the process of development
  • Equipping the organisation with skills to deliver
  • Encouraging performance and recognising success
     

4. Coaching

A progressive approach to learning and development that is actively supported by senior management is proven to transform adoption of new skills. Properly managed coachingby line managers is at heart of nurturing effective performance and delivering sustained change in customer experience. The result is exponential growth in individual capability, ownership and performance at all levels that supports organisational agility and responsiveness.

Specific areas to address:

  • Identifying performance gaps
  • Using capability audits
  • Setting cleat behavioural goals
  • Using blended learning techniques
  • Building coaching skills at all levels

My experience shows that addressing these four ‘imperatives’ at the most senior level can have a transformative and rapid effect on organisational individual performance and customer experience delivery.

Visible leadership of this type is a powerful catalyst for persuading, inspiring and equipping large numbers of people to step outside of their comfort zone and change their behaviour.

Mike Ashton
Posted: 02/01/2016