GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy that everyone in an organization must embrace. It’s the same with customer experience (CX), which most people view as a strategy. However, both customer service and experience must be rooted in a company’s culture. Everyone plays a part in the customer’s experience, regardless of how deep they are inside of the organization.
My friend Kelechi Okeke, a certified customer experience specialist in Lagos, Nigeria, recently wrote an article about the potential breakdown across different teams and departments when attempting to create a customer-focused culture. The goal is for the entire organization to work in unison, eliminating breakdowns due to disconnects in messaging, not aligning with the culture and just being so “siloed” the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. I contributed a few ideas to his article and thought I would expand on them and share them with the Human-Centered Change and Innovation audience.
When an organization chooses to be more customer-focused, the decision rests with leadership. The mistake is that the attention is fixed on the front line and anyone in direct contact with customers. Many don’t realize the effort must go much deeper than the customer-facing employees. Some, however, will recognize the disconnect and understand that customer service and experience must be an organization-wide effort that is embraced by all employees.
When we work with clients to create a customer-focused culture, the process starts with leadership and department heads meeting to create a customer service/CX vision I refer to as a mantra. This is a simple one-sentence (or less) statement that is short and memorable. For example, Texas Health Huguley created a purpose statement: “People serving people like those we love the most.” That sums up exactly how they want all employees to treat patients, their family members and other employees. That type of statement isn’t a theme for the year. It’s strong enough to be permanently baked into mission, vision and value statements. The mantra is where it starts. It’s the “north star” that everyone focuses on when it comes to customer service and CX.
Once that mantra is defined, it must be communicated. It needs to be reinforced in many ways through ongoing communication over time. This can be through leadership and management presentations, email signature lines, posters, wall art, promotional items, etc. No matter how long ago the mantra was created, all employees must know, understand and live by it.
The next step is training, which is where many companies fall short, specifically in two areas. Some don’t realize that training isn’t something you did. It’s something you do. It must be ongoing and reinforce the original intent of the training. You can’t take people into a room for a day, train them to be customer-focused and hope they will remember it five years later. Once an employee goes through the initial training, there must be (much) shorter training sessions, even just a few minutes in a weekly or monthly meeting, to reinforce and remind everyone what they need to do.
The second area in which many companies fall short with their customer-focus training is that they only train customer-facing employees, typically people in sales and customer support. As already mentioned, an organization must go deep with its training. Everyone must be trained. Of course, customer support agents’ training will be far different than that for employees in the warehouse. The point is everyone must know how they support the customer’s experience. For example, employees in the warehouse may never need front-line customer support skills, but they must understand that if they improperly pack a product that’s shipped to a customer and the product is damaged en route, that falls on them. They become a significant part of the customer’s experience, yet they never have any customer interaction. The point is that everyone must be trained to the initiative, not just people who interact with customers.
If you focus on the first three steps of the process—creating your mantra, diligently communicating it and properly training all employees—you’re on your way to becoming an aligned organization without the breakdowns of some companies and brands that are set in their old ways.
One final thought on this process. When people and departments—or the entire company—are meeting your customer service and experience goals, let them know. Celebrate successes, share stories and let people know they are doing a good job. Good behavior and success that are recognized beget more of the same!
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com
Image Credits: Shep Hyken
Sign up here to join 17,000+ leaders getting Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to their inbox every week.