Total CX transformation: Collaboration is the name of the game

Mike Ashton

Customer experience expert Mike Ashton discusses the importance of inspiring and involving staff in development and delivery of a CX transformation.

In this series of articles we’ve looked at the process of creating value by delivering powerful and distinctive customer experiences; experiences that solve problems and make life easier. We’ve seen how businesses that respond with speed and agility to changing customer demands outperform their peers. However, these businesses remain the exception, not the rule.

In addressing this challenge, we’ve considered the importance of building conviction and unity within leadership teams, quantifying the commercial impact of investment in customer experience, engineering seamless internal processes for planning and data management, and collaborative working practices that transcend departmental structures.

In this article, the focus shifts to the role of the HR strategy and organisational development and, in particular, why sustained and structured involvement of staff in CX planning and delivery is so important, but is so often treated as an afterthought.

Equipped, engaged and enabled staff: A cornerstone of CX transformation and delivery

For the transformation to succeed, it is critical that HR strategy, people management and learning and development are fully aligned with CX transformation goals. Only then can the organisation nurture the talent, skills, competencies and behaviours that underpin the change process.

In practical terms this means:

  • The end-to-end employee lifecycle is driven by the CX ambition, from recruiting and on-boarding to talent management and retention programmes
  • Job families and job descriptions reflect the role that different teams and people play in delivering the CX ambitions of the business
  • Objectives, performance management and reward strategy are realigned to reflect CX improvement goals for departments, teams and individuals
  • Learning and development programmes are established to nurture and develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to deliver the desired CX

It also means that employees across the organisation, irrespective of their role, are treated as partners in the organisation’s CX transformation process. To bring about successful and sustained change to its CX performance, an organisation must look beyond hierarchy and turn to those with the greatest proximity to CX delivery to help develop solutions together.

This means that:

  • Communication about CX initiatives must be two-way, with leaders actively seeking input from front-line and operational employees to inform planning
  • Front-line and operational employees are encouraged to identify failings in CX delivery and have a mechanism for getting this input to senior leaders, fast
  • CX ambitions are translated through language, context and stories to ensure clarity across all parts of the organisation, and with employees at all levels

Five critical questions to help you identify your company’s capability gaps

If this all makes sense but you’re not sure how your organisation stacks up, you might want to consider the following questions taken from our capability assessment tool.

Each question will need to be answered accurately. You’ll be better positioned to identify gaps in your company’s capabilities (knowledge, skills, attitude and processes) that will inhibit performance. This evidence will also be a robust foundation for a business case that you can present to your colleagues.

Here, you can find five of the 100+ questions that make up the assessment. Each question is accompanied by a couple of evidence-based answers to guide your thinking.

Q1. To what extent do your employees understand your desired CX standards?

Answer A) Most of our employees could explain our CX standards and what this means for their role and team, OR B) Most of our employees would struggle to explain our CX standards and what this means for their role and team.

Q2. Are your transformation goals built into the operational plans of each department and team?

Answer A) CX improvement initiatives are built into operational plans across the organisation, from top to bottom and across all functions, OR B) Departmental plans tend not to incorporate specific actions related to delivering wider CX transformation goals.

Q3. Do your employees feel they have a voice in your transformation agenda?

Answer A) I’m confident that our employees feel their ideas for CX improvement will be listened to and acted upon, and can point to examples of this being done, OR B) Most employees do not feel empowered, or feel that their opinions are valued.

Q4. How easy is it for staff to contribute ideas about CX transformation?

Answer A) We have very accessible processes for all employees to feed questions, ideas and issues relating to CX transformation directly to senior managers and leaders, OR B) It is not easy for staff to share ideas and views for CX improvement with managers.

Q5. To what degree are staff involved in planning CX transformation projects?

Answer A) We involve a wide range of employees across departments and levels in planning and delivery of transformation initiatives using a structured, consistent process, OR B) Planning and delivery of transformation initiatives tends to involve only a very limited range of employees.

What’s next?

Answers to these questions are rarely black and white, further investigation is needed to understand the complexity of what actually goes on and how people actually behave in your organisation.

The questions may also lead you to question the effectiveness of your company’s engagement and communication programmes and the degree to which wider HR and CX strategies are aligned and joined up.

This process is infinitely more valuable when these and many more questions are considered by a cross-functional group with a shared aim of investigating and removing the barriers that impede CX transformation and delivery.

In CX transformation, collaboration is the name of the game.