Companies that want to consistently deliver great customer experiences must get all employees to understand and embrace their contributions to customer experience. This includes customer-facing departments, such as marketing, service, and sales—but also includes behind-the-scenes functions, such as HR, IT, finance, and operations.
For those departments, the connection is less direct and therefore easier for employees to doubt or dispute. To get all employees to take appropriate responsibility for customer experience, companies are advised to consider the following three strategies to bring CX to the forefront across their organizations.
• Demonstrate how all employees contribute to CX outcomes: Many companies have told Forrester that large groups of their employees weren’t convinced they had a role to play in CX delivery. It’s not enough to tell employees that they do contribute. CX leaders must show employees the explicit connections. But how can they best do that?
Quest Diagnostics created an exercise called “How many steps are you from the patient” to show behind-the-scenes employees that they are not as far removed as they think, and that through support of their colleagues, they influence patient experiences. Another example: As part of its CX essentials training for new employees, Adobe includes a challenge called “stump the presenter.” New employees tell the presenter their jobs, and the presenter must draw the connections between the role and Adobe’s customers. The goal is to show new hires that no matter their role, they have connections to the experience of customers.
Customer journey mapping is a widely used customer experience tool already, and it’s useful in identifying how different roles and departments contribute to customer experience outcomes. For example, Courtney Kissler, vice president of e-commerce and store technologies at Nordstrom, shared a useful example with Forrester: She asked her tech management employees why they were having so many problems getting things done and found that they didn't understand how their work related to customer value. She convinced them to participate in a value-stream-mapping workshop, which resulted in cutting 60% of the team’s activities interfering with creating customer value.
• Remove barriers to employees acting in customer-centric ways: Companies can help employees feel like it’s easy to contribute to better customer experiences. For most companies, reviewing employee goals, as well as processes and systems employees use, will turn up numerous opportunities to make changes that knock down barriers to employees acting in customer-centric ways.
A great example of changing an employee goal that was a CX barrier comes from Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank found that its call center’s goal for average handle time made reps less likely to ask customers who were behind on their loan payments enough questions to recommend more achievable repayment plans. As part of a pilot project, it removed the goal and saw that repayment rates went up by more than 80%, easily paying for the increased costs from handling fewer calls per rep.
Another example is Hertz. The rental car company looked at processes and policies that prevented retail employees from delivering better customer experiences. It found that poorly conceived mandatory dialogue requirements for its rental agents resulted in negative CX, especially for business customers who just wanted quick turnaround times. When the firm eliminated that requirement, customers’ ratings of “staff courtesy” and “speed of service” improved by 30% to 50% in about six months.
Tools or systems that are hard to use are another common barrier to customer-centricity. Sales teams at Cisco were responsible for finding the right collateral and support materials to take with them to client meetings. Unfortunately, the tool to help them find these materials was cumbersome, so their use was low. This meant that they often didn’t have the right materials to make the client meeting more relevant. Cisco’s internal UX team worked with sales reps to specify requirements for a new tool, testing it with them throughout an agile development process. Six months after its release, 13,000 reps had adopted the new collateral-support sales tool.
• Empower and enable employees to take responsibility for customer experience: CX awareness and removing barriers is a good start, but companies must also support employees with training, communication, and ongoing reinforcement to help them act in customer-centric ways.
Sandwich chain Pret A Manger conducts weekly mystery shopping visits at each of its stores to check on how well store employees adhere to its prescribed behaviors. Evaluations are shared with the stores each week, and employees are motivated to review their performances and refine their approaches because the evaluations determine the size of weekly bonuses for each store employee.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance rolled out customized CX training that reinforces which behaviors help employees demonstrate its customer promises, which align to Forrester’s effective, easy, and emotional CX Index methodology. The firm started with senior management and then worked through every department in the company, including behind-the-scenes functions. It trained employees on ways to “extend trust to the customer, not judgment,” and after training, the share of employees that always exhibited related behaviors rose 20%.
Crowe Horwath built out CX behavior guidelines for non-client-facing employees (see figure below) and provided training in the expected behaviors. The goal was to make explicit how nonclient facing employees could and should support their client-facing colleagues in delivering the right experience.
The ideas and examples highlighted above are a great starting point for thinking about how to clarify the roles that other departments play in contributing to customer experience delivery, and helping employees from those departments believe that they can easily make those contributions.
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