culture hr

Culture Starts at the Top

Last week we started the conversation about culture by establishing that we need to define culture before we can deliver great customer experience. Today, we are talking about how to get the right culture in your organizations.

First and foremost, you need the right leader. Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.

How Leaders Create Culture

Leaders create the culture of an organization. Their actions and words form the storytelling and folklore of the company. That is the strongest source of culture. Folklore is not designed. It is an account of what happened. In that sense, the leader at the top defines the culture of his/her company.

Dave Barger, the former CEO of JetBlue Airways, remembered the name of every employee he met. He stopped employees in the hallway to shake hands or high five. Every new hire knew the stories about Dave Barger. The CEO and his values were part of the folklore – and the identity – of the company. Airline employees knew Dave as the man who started his career as a bag handler. He was someone who walked the talk because he knew firsthand what it is like to be on the front line.

These kinds of stories can’t be choreographed. If they were, they would not be retold by employees. Nor would they be embraced.

Dave used to fly to Orlando, where JetBlue’s training center is, to meet every new employee as part of an Orientation process for new hires of all ranks. Every two weeks, he spent two days in Orlando telling the story of how the company started and sharing his passion for the industry with flight attendants, bag handlers, and support function new hires.

The Mechanics of Culture

So how was culture instituted in JetBlue’s case? Once people knew what a caring and passionate leader Dave Barger was, they wanted to emulate him. Even more, they wanted him to be proud of them. So they tried to do what he did in their small orbits of influence.

And it worked. The General Manager of Boston took care and connected with all his employees in the operation. The VP of the Contact Center made the offices in Salt Lake City a home for all her employees, supporting them through personal and family struggles. The culture “JetBlue is your family” started with the CEO. But it did not end with him.

The company culture that stimulated employee engagement and fueled customer experience could not have grown without a leader who “lived the values” every day of his life.

Culture Goal is Real

According to Lumoa “Only 13% of companies believe that HR has an impact on Customer Experience activities in the company.” This is one of the reasons so many companies have a hard time making CX part of their core value proposition. A great leader knows that culture needs both folklore to inspire, and a reward system to acknowledge when culture values are done right.

When culture is important to the leader, he/she incorporates it into a culture goal for the executive team. In JetBlue for example, HR managed the culture goal. And it accounted for 20% of the goals for all Directors. Part of the culture goal was to adopt a city station and visit the employees four times a year. What do you think happened when it rained and we still had to travel to our respective cities? We all went, since there was an incentive to do so.

Include HR in Culture Goals

HR is integral not only in the culture goal setting process, but also in the programming of events and initiatives that bring that culture to the daily lives of employees.

That programming is essential to promoting and maintaining culture in your organization, for the benefit of employees and customers, as we will explore in some exciting upcoming conversations.

Keep Culture Top of Mind

What you need to walk away knowing right now is that, when culture is top of mind for leadership, leadership supports employees who live out culture goals. Let’s carry through the JetBlue example. Under Dave Barger, caring was a culture goal. Employees earned credit for volunteering outside the organization. And employees with the most hours were honored at a gala dinner with the CEO and executive team (that means real face-time with leadership).

Compensation and rewards like this – moments of awe for employees – close the loop with the executive team. That is how we build cultures in organizations in a way that shows results in the daily life of employees and the experience of customers.

So, if you are serious about culture, hire the right leader for your organization and start building from there.

Confused about where to start? We can help you build your culture goals throughout your organizational structure, from HR to leadership, to front line employees.

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone. They do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

hiring cx teams who to hire first

Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team

Although Customer Experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last 5 years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands and B-to-B entities.

How to Build a CX Team

Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in Customer Experience efforts.

The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.

Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place

The CX cycle begins and ends with Customer Insights ( the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin.  If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.

Hire a manager level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning.  You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.

Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place

Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.

This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.

Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team

Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.

If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.

Hiring when you Have All of the Above on Your CX Team

The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.

These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.

Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.

Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.

As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

call center tips cx

3 Call Center Mistakes You Are Making

Before we dive into this post, I urge all of us to stop using the term call center. 2018 brands should not have call centers. Instead, engaged brands of today need Contact Centers.

If you are still responding to your customers only by phone, you are failing to provide efficient, relevant and timely customer support. Even worse, you are abandoning people who sought your help and never got it. Their tweets are floating unanswered in cyber space. After more than an hour of holding time, they hung up on you. Now that this caveat is out of the way, here are the 3 most common questions I get about call center management.

How Do You keep call center agents motivated and engaged?

The call center agent role is daunting. This leads to high turnover and low employee engagement scores. If you are managing a call center, you are likely struggling to keep up employee morale, before you can even hope to offer exceptional customer service.

The solution to employee engagement and ultimately, exception customer experience starts with the hiring process. Motivation and mission-driven service begins with hiring the right people. If your call center is staffed with people who see their jobs as temporary or transition positions, those people will not stay. They also will not give the job – and your customers – all they have.

Design profile of WHO you want in your contact center. Be ruthless about your selection process. Hire based on values and attitudes, not on skills. Hire with CULTURE in mind.

I appreciate that this is easier said than done, but it is not impossible. You can do it. If brands like Zappos and Ritz Carlton can do it, so can you. We all read about the incentive games and payment for performance. These are tactics that help maintain a culture of caring. But if you do not hire the right people, these tools will not make an impactful difference.

What vendor do you recommend for automating call centers using AI?

It is amazing that no matter how often my peers and I say that technology is not the answer, call center managers still ask this question expecting a silver bullet in the shape of a vendor name.

I will say it again here: you can use any type of vendor and still fail. You can also build a chat bot solution internally and succeed. The key here is recognizing two things that get overlooked all the time: aggregating and cleaning data.

Aggregating and cleaning your data is the foundation of any AI solution. Without this step, no vendor can save you. Garbage in, garbage out is exactly the logic here. So pause the vendor conversation and call your IT partner to discuss how ready your organization is for a chat bot solution. Do you have unique customer IDs? Do you have a relatively accurate matching tools and algorithms that can be transformed into a dashboard that can either help your contact center agents, or can be fed into a chat bot to answer basic questions?

Then, gather your call agents. Ask them what they need to provide memorable service. Empower them to help by LISTENING to them and by co-creating THEIR solution, not the vendor’s.  If Fedex asked the call agent who could not change my delivery address what she requires to satisfy customers needs, I am sure that the ability to change addresses in real time would be on her list.

What locations for outsourcing call centers are best?

This is another great example of the quest for the silver bullet. If you can remember one thing from this post , remember this – location is not everything in contact center management – culture is. Yes, you can outsource your contact centers, but the more money you save on the hourly wages, the more your brand erosion is going to increase.

When you realize that your contact center agents are an extension of your brand, you will be able to convert call center agents into brand ambassadors. This is when you are leveraging this touch point into a retention vehicle. For that business transformation to happen, you do not need to relocate the team to “the best location for call centers.” You need to look for the cradle of your brand and hire the right people in that location. That way, you will have the right ingredients to build a solid support center staffed with passionate people who genuinely want to help. From there, the Wow Moments pop up organically.

Sign up for our newsletter to continue learning how to increase your skills and transform your organization! When you register now, you will get access to our whitepaper on how to go from CX Novice to CX Expert.

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.