Whether your workforce is 2 or 2,000, every employee needs to be involved in your customer experience program. Why? Because each member of your workforce is another facet of your company’s reputation. In fact, you should probably extend your program's principles and objectives to your business partners, vendors and others who participate in your organization's success.
Every day, your employees have the power to make or break your customer relationships. When building a customer experience program, it's often easy to get caught up in the process steps and lose sight of employees' need to be part of the program's success.
The 8 Steps to Creating a Great Customer Experience Program
As an overview, the eight steps to creating a great customer experience program are:
- Developing and deploying your customer experience intent statement
- Building touchpoint (or customer journey) maps
- Redesigning touchpoints
- Creating an ongoing dialogue with your customers
- Building customer experience knowledge in the workforce
- Recognizing and rewarding customer experience done well
- Executing an integrated internal communications plan to evolve your culture
- Building a customer experience dashboard
Diving deep into your customer touchpoints is key for improved performance. Focusing solely on problematic touchpoints, however, can perpetuate silo mentality and a myopic view of the customer experience among the workforce, aka, "Not my department," thinking. Treat touchpoints the way customer’s do…as a bundle of interactions.
Every member of the workforce is responsible for the customer's experience. If this understanding is not woven into the culture of the organization, adoption of any customer experience program risks failure. The viewpoint should be of the customers' end-to-end journey, not just segments of that journey. This enables a workforce to be part of the organizational improvement, not just the functional or department improvement.
How to Gain Workforce Buy-in for Customer Experience Programs
First and foremost, daily communication is the most powerful vehicle for keeping your workforce engaged and aware of your customer experience improvement initiatives. Include the workforce as a critical partner from the start—before any planning, strategy or data gathering is done. Not only will you have higher program adoption among the workforce, but you will gain a pivotal partner who will add to the quality of your program's design.
Here are a few ideas to consider when building your customer experience program with the workforce included from the start:
- Make it fun. It's natural for a workforce to be skeptical regarding any new company-wide initiative. The mere scent of implied change can create anxiety and resistance. Use prior examples of how your organization achieved a goal as a team. Acknowledge the power of teamwork to improve the entire organization and how the results benefit everyone.
- Make it frequent. Create expectations up front. Use communication tools such as newsletters, intranets, payroll stuffers and other workforce touchpoints. Direct managers to have regular daily/shift briefings with teams on program status. Conduct spot surveys to see if employees are staying informed.
- Make it specific. With frequent communications about ongoing initiatives, employees can go "tone deaf" and, over time, not hear the value in the message. The more specific you can be regarding the data, steps taken and the impact of what is being done, the more they'll value the program.
- Make it about them. Remind them that they are the machine that creates a great—or not so great—customer experience. Share stories of how other employees are bringing ideas and new solutions to address issues brought about by examining the customer journey. Invite sharing based on what others are discovering.
- Make it engaging. No one likes one-way communication. As you're sharing what is going on in the customer experience program, ask for feedback. Engage workers in a dialog about their thoughts and ideas about what is happening. Ask them open-ended questions about how they see things improving not only in their area, but in others as well. Encourage cross-functional and organizational thinking.
- Make it real. There's nothing like a real customer story to bring it home. Create a vehicle for capturing engaging customer stories and share them with your workforce. The more your employees know the customer as a real, living human being with problems and challenges just like they have, the more they are apt to perform with that in mind.
The workforce is made up of people caring for people, whether an employee interacts directly with a customer or not. Employees must support one another in cross-functional performance so the customer's entire journey is one that delights them and creates advocates.
8 Steps to Creating a Great Customer Experience Program taken from "Chapter 1: Basic Training: Customer Experience Basics." Customer Experience for Dummies. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 9-11. Barnes, Roy A., and Bob Kelleher. Print. Read more here.