As a business leader, you understand the importance of cultivating an adaptive organization that consistently delivers exceptional experiences. However, achieving this requires more than implementing CX initiatives—it requires driving excitement and adoption of customer-driven behaviors throughout the organization. When employees are genuinely enthusiastic and committed to putting customers at the center of everything they do, it creates a win-win-win for your customers, your employees, and your shareholders due to higher customer lifetime value, greater innovation effectiveness, lower cost-to-serve, and greater employee engagement and productivity.
Culture is often described as “how things are done around here.” Evolving your culture requires focusing on behaviors more than mindsets. It’s easier to act your way into new mindsets than preach changes to them. This is a key principle in commitment and consistency theory in consumer and organizational psychology, which demonstrates that people will evolve their beliefs to be more consistent with their behaviors. By approaching behavior adoption as an exercise in habit building loops, you can build momentum around a set of behaviors that grows over time as you enroll a broader set of leaders, managers, and frontline employees in your cultural movement.
Let's explore four strategies to drive excitement and adoption of customer-driven behaviors in your organization.
Expand Your Leadership Capacity
One of the most influential factors in driving excitement and adoption of customer-driven behaviors is leadership. Leaders must lead by example, embodying customer-centricity in their own actions and decision-making. By consistently communicating and following through on specific commitments that deliver on your CX vision, your leaders set the tone for the organization and inspire your managers and frontline employees to follow suit. Actively engaging with customers, seeking their feedback, and incorporating it into strategic discussions sends a clear message about the importance of prioritizing customers. So does taking the time to develop and mentor others in the organization about how they can adopt customer-driven behaviors.
Sharing success stories can be a powerful motivator for employees. Highlight exceptional customer experiences and the outcomes achieved because of customer-driven behaviors. Celebrate individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond to design and deliver outstanding customer experiences. By sharing success stories, you create a sense of pride and excitement around customer-driven behaviors, inspiring others to adopt them and influence others to as well.
In an earlier article I collaborated on about the intersection of leadership, customer, and employee experience (see the link here), my co-authors and I spoke about the importance of being intentional about the type of leadership experience you are looking to create. The metaphor for sparking ideas along the journey for which JourneySpark Consulting is named is multifaceted and goes beyond the customer’s journey to also include your employees’ journeys at all levels of the company (leaders, managers, and frontline employees), as well as the journey that your company, itself, is going on to become more customer-driven. As you invest in building your leaders’ ability to plan for change and to engage and mentor others to be part of that change, you expand the leadership capacity of your organization, which expands the ability of your people to lead your prioritized CX initiatives through to successful completion.
Enhance Your Teams’ Decision-Making Effectiveness
Actively involving employees in decision-making for where to focus and how to execute more effectively is key to driving results. People embrace what they help create. Seek their input, ideas, and feedback on improving the customer experience. Create cross-functional teams that collaborate on your CX initiatives. Encourage employees to take ownership of CX improvements within their respective areas of expertise. By involving employees, you tap into their knowledge and perspectives, making them feel valued and invested in the adoption of customer-driven behaviors and the results they amplify.
There are several key disciplines that organizations invest in to accelerate value from their investments in CX. Disciplines such as enterprise agility, quality management, and human-centered design are more than a set of skills and frameworks. They encourage focus on a set of behaviors that are relevant for a more customer-driven culture (e.g., openness to new ideas, valuing diversity of perspectives, experimentation, sharing information, etc.). These disciplines are all valuable in encouraging a range of thinking and adoption of behaviors that enhance collaboration and decision-making effectiveness. To get the most value from these investments in human capital, you need to focus on behavior adoption, not just shifting peoples’ mindsets. By focusing on adoption of cultural behaviors in tandem to working on your prioritized CX initiatives, you will generate much greater momentum and impact from them.
Create a Scalable CX Playbook
Fostering collaboration and communication across departments and teams is crucial to break down silos and create a more customer-driven culture. Your CX playbook is a clearly defined and consistently executed interaction model for how teams work together on CX opportunities. How do you encourage ideation for the right opportunities to engage your prioritized personas across key moments that matter? How do you make funding decisions for what CX initiatives to invest in and what resources to put on the teams designing and optimizing new experiences? How do you embed new ways of working that enhance decision making effectiveness for how your teams work on your prioritized CX initiatives? Do you have role clarity for who is responsible and accountable to do what in your playbook? Do you have a well-defined approach to transition from the “change” to “run” state for supporting new experiences at scale? These are just a few of the example questions you need to address to build alignment on your playbook and drive adoption of new ways of working to put it into practice across the organization.
Focusing on cultural behaviors is an important enabler and complement to organization design, process improvement, and technology implementation. Without changes to behaviors, your change management plans are more likely to go off the rails. Your cultural behaviors help you get beyond focusing just on formal organization levers to drive change, reinforcing your employee’s motivation and commitment to change as they see others engaging in your prioritized behaviors and they feel pride themselves for the recognition they receive for embracing these behaviors themselves.
Reimagine Coaching & Training
Fostering a learning environment is crucial to empower employees to embrace customer-driven behaviors. Offer training programs, workshops, and resources that equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to understand customer needs and deliver exceptional experiences. Encourage employees to share their learnings, best practices, and insights gained from customer interactions. By fostering a culture of curiosity and growth, employees are encouraged to explore innovative ways to enhance the customer experience.
Rather than approach learning and development just as a set of class-based coursework or interactive training people can take at their own pace, make it more experiential to further catalyze your employees’ leadership experience and build motivation and commitment for the changes you are looking to drive. Engage your leaders to have conversations with their teams. Train the trainer so that an expanding set of leaders and managers can contribute to experiential learning sessions (i.e., well designed workshops that pay attention to how you put new behaviors into practice and not just preach a shift in mindsets). Elevate the “clue consciousness” of your employees so that they can spot improvement opportunities and drive even greater impact from your prioritized customer-driven behaviors (see my Reimagining Insights blog series with my friend and mentor Lou Carbone here for more on clue consciousness, as well as my review of Lou’s book Clued In here). Help participants in your coaching and training programs to make personalized commitments and then use digital tools to enable 360-degree monitoring of whether they are keeping their commitments and putting your prioritized behaviors into practice. Helping facilitate your people in making commitments and capturing ongoing feedback about their progress in adopting behaviors will make your coaching and training investments an incredibly impactful lever to amplify the ROI from your CX investments.
In conclusion, driving excitement and adoption of customer-driven behaviors requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses leadership, decision-making effectiveness, collaboration on a well-defined playbook, and continuous learning. By fostering a culture that values and supports customer-driven behaviors, you can nurture an environment where employees are motivated to deliver exceptional experiences. Remember, the journey to becoming a truly customer-driven organization is ongoing, and it requires sustained effort and commitment from every member of the team.