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.

More from DOINGCXRIGHT

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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.

CX Skills Builder: How to articulate your CX Value and secure your budget

Two weeks ago we urged you to find CX problems and fix them instead of diagnosing and mapping them. That is  Continue reading “CX Skills Builder: How to articulate your CX Value and secure your budget”

Customer Experience Skills

Top Traits of Customer Experience Leaders

It is not a coincidence that innovative companies like Disney, Apple, Zappos, and Amazon are leading brands. They share in common a priority on creating exceptional experiences and ensuring satisfaction at every point of the customer journey. They also Continue reading “Top Traits of Customer Experience Leaders”

crowdfunding save toysrus

Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe

Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs. This week, billionaire Isaac Larian set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise 1Bn and save 400 of the remaining 735 US stores.  He is blaming the debt connected to the private equity owners for the epic failure of the brand. Would you donate to the campaign?

I would not. Here is why.

Today, social media empowers real time conversations between brands and consumers. Inspiring brand leaders have a real time communications tool to speak to their customers and take accountability for their actions. Social media equips brands like KFC to manage their mistakes brilliantly and turn them into meaningful connections with customers. Even with these tools, Toys ‘R’ Us leaders are quiet. Nobody is “coming out” and taking ownership of the destruction of an iconic brand. The company gave a flat statement that after they filed for bankruptcy last September they had a “bad holiday season.” That lack of accountability and transparency displays either that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us still does not understand its crucial role in the company’s failure to adapt, or that they are afraid to own their actions. Either way, this does not sound like a team that deserves a bail out.

Did you feel like the brand management did anything different this year during the holiday season? Did you see any creative retention or acquisition campaigns? Any coupons in your mailboxes to draw you in to the stores? Were there any smart partnerships to make a difference in your experience with the brand?

We all know that ad campaigns are expensive. But a national activation campaign and clever promotions and sales are not that draining on the balance sheet. So no, I will not pay to support a leadership that did not show creativity to boost sales and engagement during the holiday season and is not showing accountability or taking ownership now.

Last, but not least, what are we being asked to fund, exactly? Our past, our memories, or the future for our children? CNN made an emotional clip with ads from the past and a kid crying that the store closed.

The iconic jingle does stand for the joy of kids since 1948. Toys “R” Us was the brand of children for the last 70 years. Yet, when I needed a last minute toy for my niece last Christmas, Amazon was the brand that had same day delivery for Prime customers. This last season, when I needed a robot that could play with my nephew, Amazon was the one selling it. I am not sure what we will be saving with this campaign. Our children’s future, or our own memories of the past? And you know what? We can keep our memories in our hearts for FREE. And our children’s future might be in the next gen toys store that has not been created yet.

 

 

*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.

CX Bold Moves: New York Times Beats Google

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the DoingCXRight CX Bold Moves stories.

One of the most disrupted industries in the last 10 years is the newspaper media. Newspapers have always had a certain sophistication, history, and nostalgia associated with them. This makes it particularly hard to observe their disappearance. Of the newspaper industry’s most recognizable brands, the New York Times is one that brings an additional layer of style that makes so many of us never want to let go.

At the same time, even I, a New York Times devotee, have to admit that my interaction with the famous brand has changed. While I used to subscribe to the New York Times in 2009 and 2010, today I am a digital subscriber. Although I love the idea of the newspaper, even I stopped buying it. Although I married a man who reads the New York Times (it was one of the requirements), I am not reading the digital subscription nearly as often as I used to read the paper itself, in college.

Because of my personal affinity with the paper, I was even more happy to read that the Times’ overall digital business is growing faster than Google and that the annual growth of new online subscriptions is averaging 46% since 2011.

Now that is a noteworthy shift that not many “old school” and “traditional” businesses are able to execute.

How was the Times able to do this? By being bold and building a strategy in 2015 that they are executing flawlessly today. The Times did not wait to fade into oblivion before it chose to re-channel itself. Since April 24th, 2017, the news outlet added the millennial channel to their portfolio by joining Discover on Snapchat. This shift is arguably the most digital signaling a news brand can give to tell its customers, “I am where you are. I have not changed my core value proposition of reliable, credible news delivery. I have just adapted to the times (no pun intended) and I am doing it in a different way.”

For a brand to do what The New York Times is doing it needs courageous leaders. It needs leaders who are able to know exactly what they are selling and who are able to recognize, in time, that their customer has changed. The New York Times has earned its position in our CX Bold Moves Series for doing all of this and not having an identity crisis.

We see brands in such crisis every day. Brands that are holding on to the image of their past customer or who are so afraid of change that they say they are investing in a digital transformation, but all they do is hire a Digital Transformation Director with no support infrastructure around the role.

46% average annual growth only happens when an organization is focused on that goal and when leadership and funding are appropriately allocated to this big, bold, transformational move. The New York Times clearly has that focus and courage. Do you?

 

 

*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.

How to Sell the C-Suite on Customer Experience

You finally got your big career break and you are leading a project that requires executive approval. Now what? Intuitively you know that this is a chance to make a first impression on the right people, but you have no idea how to approach this process. There is no set procedure and your leader can be good or bad at this, so going to your boss might not be the first right step. Where do you begin?

Overcommunicate – Know your audience

Begin by scheduling pre-briefings with each individual executive. Do not forget the Chief Counsel or the Chief HR Executive. When it comes to the Exec Crew, every function weighs equally. You never know who might help (or block) your business case. If you are asking for millions of dollars to build CX expertise in the enterprise, or to finally connect underlying systems that yield bad customer experience, you might find that the Chief HR executive is so passionate about customer experience that he/she is the loudest voice in the room.

Your job does not end here. You also need to assess the political capital of each executive. Who has been on the team the longest? Who has the strongest ties to the Board of Directors? The networking power of leaders can be stronger than the hierarchy of power.  It is invisible, but it cannot be underestimated.

Nothing is decided in the executive meeting/board room

The moment you realize this you will increase your success of obtaining funding for CX initiatives. You also will realize how much more work you have ahead of you to put the CX roadmap on your organization’s priority list.

The executive meeting is the ink meeting. It is the show. The real approvals and conversations that you need take place before that meeting. If these conversations do not take place, nothing gets approved. Many times, I have peers bring business cases to the executive committee without “pre-socializing” them. In the meeting, they are asked various business and political questions that they are unable to answer and nothing gets accomplished. The best case scenario is to get that approval “pushed” to the next meeting. One thing is for sure: no money or support is gained that day.

Cover all your bases

Never underestimate the power of the VPs and Directors. If you think you only need to sell CX to an executive to introduce the customer as a mindset, you are very wrong. The first thing a good Executive does is turn to his VPs and Directors and say “What do you think about this?” If you have not sold your agenda to them, the conversation is over.

Think of this work as an election campaign. Assess the benefits of each stakeholder or group in your organization. If there are losers in the landscape who, by design, will hurt, you need to acknowledge that every chance you get, in public. And you must thank them for sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

Have the keys to the gate

The Executive Assistants must be your friends. All. of. them. I know it is basic, but somehow, people still fail to follow this principle. Access is everything. Without it you have no voice, no audience. Take care of them every holiday season. Even without an occasion. Just do it.

Getting executive buy-in is not easy, but it is not an impossible task. Remember: think like a CX expert, know your Customer, personalize your message, and express empathy when you deliver your pitch. People want the same things, regardless of the setting – to be heard, considered and respected. Remember this, and design your approach accordingly.

 

 

*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.

Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement

In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI post covered how a well built customer experience can increase revenue and customer growth of your organization. Today we will walk you through the positive impact customer experience has on employee engagement.
 
Great Culture is the Enabler of Great Service
 
Excellent corporate culture creates engaged employees who are proud of their company and make it a personal mission to deliver great experiences. Engaged employees love the brand they work for so much that they will go above and beyond to “convince” their customers to feel the same way. Actions like this transform employees from brand ambassadors to brand builders. When leadership takes the time to build and maintain an engaged workforce the impact is significant, and profitable.
 
Yet, if culture is of such high value to organizations, why do so few succeed in creating this kind of customer experience advantage for their organizations? Because it is hard, and expensive.
 
Let’s say your cultural values have FUN in them. How do people live that value at work? They celebrate holidays with social events, they go on interesting off-sites, they  have fun contests in the operation, etc. Each of these cultural artifacts of the fun value costs money. Most leaders will say they believe in the fun value; very few will approve the expenses for the discreet activities that maintain that value.  When companies grow, all those activities include the added expenses of travel in order to connect employee teams.
 
Culture is Not an HR Function
 
Culture cannot be achieved with all-hands meetings twice a year and a daily corporate communications email. Culture is a business strategy, a guiding principle that informs how product and service decisions are made. If, for instance, CARING is part of your corporate culture, there are several business decisions and practices you need to invest in to express that care (internal funds for supporting fellow employees during hurricanes, sponsor travel so senior leaders can visit front line employees to better understand their day-to-day challenges, willingness to walk away from a product enhancement that will benefit the customer but also make your front life processes more complex and hard to maintain).  Caring costs money. Real money. Caring is even more expensive than FUN.
 
Caring can save an organization. If you have a product that is not the market leader in terms of quality and you marry it with an engaged workforce that delivers exceptional service, you actually have a shot at keeping your position as the market leader. If you don’t, there is not much going on to motivate your customers return.
 
How Do You Quantify the ROI?
 
It is fair to say that all the people who returned to you after an exceptional service experience would not have done so without having received that exceptional service. Quantify the lifetime value of those customers, and that is how you calculate your customer experience ROI.
 
Culture is a Critical Corporate Mindset
 
People are hired for culture in the true sense of that expression. If transparent leadership and instilling employee trust are values for leaders, then the pay scales of the organization should not be locked for only selected people to see. Transparency is a big word that is often repeated, but transparency is rarely backed by actions like this.
 
If transparency is on a corporation’s values list, then that corporation’s leaders must be ready to be vulnerable and to be challenged by their employees. With the right mindset, this is not a difficult value to live. Being authentic and “walking the talk” can inspire more than any other corporate action can. Transparency and vulnerability is a challenging mindset for leaders, but it gets easier to practice over time, and it is worth the investment.
 
Generally speaking, employees want to (prefer to) respect their leaders. We all need hope, we need someone to look up to, something to keep us moving forward. Employees are much more forgiving and patient with their leaders than we think, so apply a brave mindset to lead wholeheartedly. Be seen and be prepared to have an organization follow you no matter where you lead through the culture you create and the actions that support it.
 
Successful brands have strong corporate cultures that drive their employees to consistently deliver memorable experiences. Culture is the most difficult ROI to prove. It is impossible to replicate, so it can be a competitive advantage. It can also be a deterrent to hostile takeovers and mergers. Having the freedom to grow organically while creating value for customers is the greatest return on investment any business can dream of. In that sense, the ROI of culture is the highest we will ever see.
*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.