Transforming customer experience through collaborative working processes



Mike Ashton
06/28/2017

Customer experience expert Mike Ashton discusses the processes that can help you achieve a CX transformation

So far in this series of articles I’ve looked at the critical importance of:

1) Belief and alignment within the senior management team and;

2) Seamless internal processes and unified working practices to transform the customer experience and influence purchase behaviour.

Last time, I sought to identify key issues to help promote seamless and unified working methods. These were:

1) The need for a consolidated, company-wide view of customer transactions and behaviour and;

2) Clarity within each department regarding where and how they fit into the customer journey, and how their activities and investments impact the customer experience.

These foundations help create the potential for an organisation to operate as a single cohesive unit guided by a business-wide view of the customer experience; an organisation where internal structures and silos are not allowed to impede delivery of a seamless end-to-end experience and where the first instinct of departments, teams and individuals is to connect and collaborate.

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In this article, I would like to offer a deep-dive diagnostic into the collaborative working practices that are pivotal to improving time to market, flexibility and cost management.

Our research has repeatedly highlighted a gap between how well management teams perceive they collaborate to deliver customer experience and the reality of how they actually behave when it comes to such areas as decision making, planning, recourse allocation, talent management and investment.

Here’s a sample of ten diagnostic questions and behavioural symptoms that we use to help identify potential strengths and blockers for our clients. This analytical process is critical in being able to develop transformation programmes that deliver sustained change quickly and efficiently.

In your organisation…

1. How readily can managers identify and bring together teams to tackle customer priorities?

Spot the symptoms:

Managers across the business consistently bring together the right internal stakeholders to add value to customer experience improvement initiatives with no internal conflicts or oversights when it comes to implementation.

OR

Managers tend to approach customer experience challenges in a silo-ed manner, not seeking involvement or collaboration from other departments or teams, often leading to delays, conflicts and cost-overruns when it comes to implementation.

2. How effective are employees at managing cross-functional projects?

Spot the symptoms:

We have institutionalised ways-of-working and best practices for cross-functional project management, and our customer experience project or initiative leaders use consistent approaches, tools and processes for project planning, chairing, facilitation, ideation, conflict resolution and project reporting.

OR

Customer experience project or initiative leaders receive no development support in cross-functional project management, and the effectiveness of initiatives is often hit by delays, internal politics and weak management.

3. How naturally does collaboration come to employees?

Spot the symptoms:

Our people’s first instinct is to seek out internal best practice and to connect and collaborate with others in the business who can add value.

OR

Most people approach customer experience challenges or priorities in isolation with a silo-led mentality, failing to seek out internal best practice or other people within the business who can add value.

4. How supportive are directors and managers of cross-functional working and collaboration?

Spot the symptoms:

Managers typically suggest the right people for the each project, and are proactive in offering the best talent.

OR

Department heads and managers tend to argue that cross-functional project working is disruptive to ‘business as usual’ and protect their own resource.

5. How well do managers ensure their teams are connected across the organisation?

Spot the symptoms:

Managers are typically highly-supportive of connecting their teams with others across the business, drawing on a range of formal and informal activities such as co-working.

OR

Tend to put little time into encouraging this to happen with employees operating within teams divided into a series of silos.

6. To what extent is collaboration supported through training and development?

Spot the symptoms:

Collaborative behaviours and practices are core to our training curriculum, and nurtured in employees at all levels from induction to ongoing learning and development.

OR

There is no formal training and development in collaborative behaviours and working practices.

7. To what extent are collaborative behaviours assessed?

Spot the symptoms:

Collaborative behaviours and working practices are built in to the personal goals and formal performance evaluations for all employees.

OR

Collaboration typically isn’t something our employees are explicitly targeted on in their personal goals, and our performance evaluations don’t assess or recognise when employees demonstrate collaborative behaviour.

8. How structured is your approach to collaborating on planning?

Spot the symptoms:

When it comes to planning transformation initiatives, we use a common process, language and format to ensure collaboration happens consistently, and is disciplined, structured and effective.

OR

Collaboration to plan transformation initiatives and projects lacks structure, discipline or process, with most or all departments pursuing inefficient, inconsistent and often confusing approaches

9. Are your HR systems collecting the right data about your talent base?

Spot the symptoms:

Our HR systems capture data on all employees’ skills, knowledge, experience and performance to enable us to profile and identify the right talent.

OR

We tend not to capture, store historical or current data on employee skills, knowledge, experience and performance or use such data to help profile and develop talent.

10. How well do you retain best practices and learnings from prior transformation initiatives?

Spot the symptoms:

Transformation projects and initiatives are documented and archived in a knowledge management system to codify best practices and learnings for future value.

OR

We have limited or no access to retained corporate knowledge, learnings or best practices from past transformation projects and initiatives, and lack a process for ensuring we do so in the future.

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I hope that thinking through these diagnostic questions has helped shed some light on potential capability gaps that may impede attempts to transform customer experience in your organisation. We find these and other similar questions are a great way to structure a senior management workshop to help identify capability gaps and agree a clear development strategy.

In my next article, we’ll take a look at key steps to involving, equipping and engaging the wider organisation in the process of customer experience transformation.