More than ever, a strong service culture is critical to the long-term health and success of your business. Shaping your company’s culture starts at the top and requires everyone in your organization is working with the same purpose and passion – to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
In this installment on CX best practices, Evan Klein, Founder and President of Satrix Solutions, and Steve Bernstein, CEO and Founder of Waypoint, discuss key ingredients for maturing your customer-centric culture. Read the transcript or watch the video for their responses.
Steve, what role does company culture play in companies that lead in the area of customer experience? What should business leaders striving for service excellence be thinking about?
That’s a super interesting question. We started off life here at Waypoint as a consulting company and worked with our clients around change management all the time. Over the last five or six years, we pivoted to our software, Waypoint TopBox. What I would add to this conversation about culture is, I had a mentor Phil at SAP. Phil said, “What’s important to my boss is fascinating to me.” That stuck with me because what culture really is at the end of the day is about is demonstrating. A manager, whether it’s the CEO or frontline manager, and everybody in between, they need to be asking the right questions.
TopBox equips those managers with good metrics, the KPIs. We know that process metrics are super important leading indicators to driving the overall outcomes. Overall outcomes are lagging. Whatever the outcome is, by definition, it’s an outcome so it’s lagging. Process adherence, things like how deep and wide are relationships inside key customer accounts? How big is our footprint? How much whitespace do we have? What percentage of our customers are truly with us? If we have 100 accounts, maybe 20 key persona or contacts inside the account, that’s 2000 people. Out of those 2000 people, what percentage of them are Promoters? What are we doing to improve that rate? Customer acquisition cost, are we activating Promoters to drive down CAC? Some of these metrics are super important so we equip our managers with that from a software perspective. Evan, the soft piece of this is probably much more in your wheelhouse. Is that accurate?
Yes, Steve, it is, thank you. We do a lot of work around helping companies to elevate their culture of customer-centricity. You cannot maximize the impact or ROI of your customer experience program unless you’re doing work towards maturing your customer-centric culture. That involves a number of different elements. You mentioned one, Steve, where making KPIs or metrics visible across the company, within reason as you’re obviously not going to share everything with every employee. But employees need to understand what does it mean to be customer-centric and how are we working in aggregate to affect positive change. Sometimes that involves storytelling, which you can share some of the metrics that you’re monitoring or some specific customer stories that reinforce the notion of customer-centricity. We’re often talking to clients and providing tips and strategies that we’ve seen proven very effective. In fact, we do a lot of writing around building the customer-centric culture as well. Again, those that are “world-class” in this realm, really have employees that get it. Across the board, they’re all working towards the same goal. They all put the customer at the center of everything that they do. It’s something that’s talked about on an ongoing, year-round basis.
The common refrain is there might be one individual who owns the customer experience program, it might be the Chief Customer Officer or the head of customer success, but everybody in the company has a responsibility to the customer experience. That notion of getting everyone on board, through storytelling, through rewards and recognition programs, through training, through sharing examples that lead to revenue or profit growth, all of these things work in tandem to help employees understand the possibility and the implications for doing this.
One of the things that you just alluded to is super important. People always say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” What you can do is sow the oats. You can make him drink, essentially by sowing the oats. We have a software platform that can surface bright spots, what’s working really well. You must have a strong program leader or capability to your point, that surface that bright spot. Tell the story. Put the players in lights. It’s such an important element of telling those stories about what’s working and how it’s great for you as an employee and the customer and all of the good benefits that come with it.
One final thing that I will touch on that I think is the biggest risk that companies face is, a culture where employees are reluctant to share bad news, for maybe fear of retribution or for other reasons, they don’t want to surface anything that’s less than positive. That is the death knell for a company trying to differentiate based on customer experience. If you have a culture where people are hesitant in any way to escalate or rise up any negative feedback, that’s a huge problem. That has to start from the executive level and on down, where that type of discussion is encouraged, that it’s looked at as an opportunity, not as necessarily a problem, that there’s a learning opportunity there. That’s of great importance.
You’re so right. You said earlier, “All feedback as a gift.” Yet, when there’s negative feedback coming back, a lot of times the knee-jerk reaction is to shoot the messenger, the CSM. You’re right, it does take a whole company to drive a customer experience. If the CSM could do it on their own, then what do we need all the rest of the people in this company for, right? The whole company has to do it. Let’s all row in the right direction. If the CEO is firing bullets at people, instead of encouraging resolution or remediation, that’s going to be a problem.