In today's hyper-competitive business landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of delivering exceptional customer experiences (CX) to deepen loyalty and customer lifetime value. As a CX leader, you understand that creating an aligned CX strategy and customer-driven culture is crucial for staying ahead of the competition and driving long-term success. One key aspect of fostering a more customer-driven culture is upskilling and training your employees to spot CX improvement opportunities and act on them, while contributing to better decision-making effectiveness and collaboration for your teams working on your CX priorities. In this next blog in our Drive Change & Evolve the Culture series, we will explore strategies to empower your workforce, transform them into CX champions, and reinforce your flywheel for growth.
Engage Your Employees on Their Unique CX-Focused Learning Journey
Your company is on its own unique journey to become more customer-driven, and your employees all have a role to play on their own journeys to develop their skills and contribute to your cultural movement to adopt more customer-driven behaviors. Because people embrace what they help create, it is extremely valuable to enroll and engage your employees in proactively designing their own learning journeys. Think of this as their passport to acquire and showcase their relevant skills in key disciplines that are relevant for a more customer-driven culture such as human centered design, enterprise agility, quality management, data science, and change management.
To lay the foundation for upskilling and training, it is essential to design a comprehensive learning curriculum, while ensuring that your approach to upskilling and training embraces experience management best practices to connect with your employees emotionally and reinforce their motivation and commitment to change as part of your cultural movement to become more customer driven. This curriculum should encompass various aspects of CX, including customer journey mapping, customer empathy, effective communication, balanced approaches to decision-making that combine data analysis and intuition, and lean startup approaches to driving continuous experimentation and speeding the time to value. By providing your employees with the knowledge and understanding of CX principles and methodologies, you empower them to make informed decisions and drive meaningful improvements for both your bold bets and your brilliant basics to transform your CX.
In addition to experiential and drip-feed training programs, tap into the expertise within your organization. Identify individuals who possess CX knowledge and experience and leverage their insights to facilitate your training sessions and mentorship programs. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration and knowledge sharing to foster a culture of learning and continuous improvement. By promoting internal expertise, you create a sense of ownership and cultivate a learning community within your organization.
Raise the Clue Consciousness of your Employees
Most experience management programs focus on monitoring and “closing the loop” for signals that customers provide along their journey. This is often also referred to as “turning insights into action.” This is important, but doesn’t fully tap into the opportunity to generate frequent and high quality insights along your customers’ journeys.
Think of the every touchpoint your customers have with your employees (including others in your extended value chain), your physical environment, your digital assets, and each other as.a potential “clue” to enhance the customer experience. Many of these clues leave footprints in experience (X) or operational (O) data that you can pay attention to in order to drive a better customer listening capability. Your X data is what people are thinking, feeling, and saying, and includes structured data like surveys, as well as unstructured data signals like ratings and reviews, social media messages, chatbots, call center verbatims from voice-to-text, text messages, emails, and an increasing set of new signals (e.g., video calls, Metaverse interactions, etc.). Qualtrics research shows that unstructured data is 90% of your X data and is growing rapidly. Your O data includes the digital footprints customers leave from interacting with your digital assets, as well as other data you capture through your systems along your value chain. What else is there that could be a valuable data signals to make more of the clues visible? Your employees’ interaction with them.
If you had to read just one book on experience management, I’d recommend Clued In, by my friend and mentor Lou Carbone. You can find my review of his book here, as well as a set of blogs we are writing together for our Reimagining Insights series here. In the book, Lou introduces the notion of Clue Scanning, and how you can focus on and categorize clues into three types: functional, humanic, and mechanic. Functional clues are how people describe their experiences interacting with your products directly. Humanic clues have to do with human-to-human experiences, with your employees as well as by customers with each other. Mechain clues have to do with their sensory experiences such as the sounds, sights, smells and things they touch along their journey. The humanic and mechanic clues tap into their unconscious minds more fully and evoke a stronger emotional connection. As a result, they are more important in many cases for driving a stronger brand premium and sustainable competitive differentiation.
You can proactively nurture greater “Clue Consciousness” in your employees by training them in “Clue Scanning” and then encouraging them to apply and practice Clue Scanning in their daily work, while catalyzing organic conversations about clues once your employees share a vocabulary and training on how to apply and act on clues. This will tap into their natural pride to make a difference in their jobs, and to bond and learn with one another. These are inherent drives that we have as human beings and empowering your employees to enhance their skills and collaborate with one another can be a significant catalyst for a more customer-driven culture. You can also more directly link your efforts to raise clue consciousness in your leaders, managers, and frontline employees with your broader efforts to activate your prioritized cultural behaviors.
Reinforce a Focus on Continuous Feedback and Mentorship
Establish a culture of continuous feedback and coaching to support employees' growth and development in CX. Provide regular feedback on their performance, highlighting areas of strength and areas for improvement. Engage your leaders and managers in training each other as well as your frontline employees. Empower them to contribute to training content that others can take advantage of for their CX learning passports. Create a safe space for open dialogue, where employees can seek guidance, share insights, and learn from one another.
One strategy that can be very effective to reinforce motivation and commitment to change is to get your leaders, managers, and frontline employees to make commitments soon after being exposed to training and upskilling content. Don’t just have them sign a poster or a generic form that isn’t tailored and unique to their own learning journey. Get them to articulate what commitments they will make after engaging in meaningful dialog with others as part of immersive, experiential learning opportunities. Foster discussions between team members and their mentors about their commitments, as well as with their peers in smaller groups. Note that their mindsets will be more elastic and more likely to evolve when they make commitments, as they will realign their mindsets to be consistent with commitments they have made. Get them to monitor their progress against their commitments, as well as specific cultural behaviors that you have prioritized and are reinforcing through your experiential and drip-feed learning content. Monitor your employees progress through 360 degree digital tools to track their progress. You can then look back every few months to identify areas to focus on change management tactics to reinforce motivation and commitment to change for your CX initiatives.
Foster Greater Openness to External Ideas and Collaboration
Staying updated on the latest CX trends, best practices, and industry insights is crucial for driving effective training initiatives. Curate a repository of relevant resources such as articles, case studies, research papers, and webinars. Make these resources easily accessible to your employees through a centralized platform or knowledge-sharing portal. Encourage them to explore and leverage these resources to enhance their understanding of CX and gain inspiration for improvement initiatives. Use drip feed learning such as podcasts, infographics, or video clips to drive awareness and traffic into these learning assets.
Expand employees' horizons by exploring external training programs and certifications aligned with your organization's CX goals. Encourage participation in industry conferences, workshops, and professional development courses. These external learning opportunities expose employees to new ideas, emerging trends, and best practices in CX. Certifications provide tangible recognition of their expertise and commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Catalyzing customer-driven mindsets and behaviors within your organization takes sustained commitment and a proactive approach to build a movement in your talent at all levels in the organization. Consistently communicating the importance of CX and its impact on business success is not enough to energize your people for sustained motivation and commitment to change. Emphasize the value of customer feedback, empathy, and proactive problem-solving, taking this to the next level by raising the clue consciousness of your employees and upskilling and empowering them to work on clues they spot by applying practices from relevant disciplines such as human centered design, enterprise agility, quality management, data science, and change management.
Encourage employees to view their roles through the lens of the customer and seek opportunities to go above and beyond in delivering memorable experiences. By reimagining your approach to training and development, you will help your employees to give the gift of experience and make your growth flywheel spin faster and more sustainably
To check out earlier blogs in this series, click here.