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.

what is cx meaning

CX Meaning: What are the Faces of CX?

When I worked in marketing nobody ever asked me “What does marketing mean?”. Since I moved into Customer Experience, every time I give my job title, someone asks “What does CX mean?”.

Even though customer experience is recognized as more and more important for the long term survival of brands, many remain confused about CX meaning. Here are six ways you can answer when asked about what CX means.

Customer Experience means any one and all of the below. Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.

CX Meaning & Marketing

Smart CX comes AFTER marketing

When I mentor Customer Experience professionals, my first question is always about brand promise and brand strategy. Marketing defines a brand’s customer service when it broadcasts the RTBs (reasons to believe or use a brand). The customer experience mission is to consistently deliver on those marketing promises. That is how CX promotes a brand.

CX Meaning: Policies & Procedures

Good CX means redesigning policies and procedures to make customers’ life easier

Sometimes Customer Experience is about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and in your employees’ shoes. Do this to understand what your customers go through to get “their jobs done” with your brand. And what your employees do to get their jobs done on behalf of your brand.

Looking at it from the customer’s perspective, his/her “job” might be to sign up for your subscription service, pay a bill, or close an account. Often, Customer Experience professionals find out that a bad customer experience is bad by design. This is not malicious, of course, nor is it intended. But still, the bad outcome happened by design!

That kind of poor design starts from the ground up. Think about training materials and how they prepare frontline employees to deliver customer experience. Those materials might be teaching the employees to ask a question in an insensitive way as a result of regulatory requirements. Two policies might have been written in silos and might be asking the same questions of new customers in a way that makes them feel like your brand is wasting their time.

In a bigger, older and more merger-driven organization, CX is often about cleaning the so called “customer journeys” by revising existing rules and procedures. Although this may not be the most exciting part of CX for me, for an engineer, cleaning up these procedures is an exceptionally rewarding and meaningful job.

CX Meaning: Customer Engagement

Asking customers what they like/do not like about their experiences with a brand improves CX

Another side of CX, survey making and survey analysis, helps to capture the VOC (Voice of the Customer). This is the job of people who design, analyze and offer recommendations to business units based on what they have heared from customers. This part of CX is integral. It drives results when it is done properly.

The challenge is the integration levels within the business. Often VOC teams are perceived as the analytics group. Instead of being the drivers of change, they simply “service” the business when the business has questions for them. In other words, instead of the customer voice driving the conversation, the business assumes it understands what the customer needs. Regardless of the challenges, surveys, analysis and VOC are excellent opportunities within the CX fields, particularly for CX professionals with a background and interest in analytics.

CX Meaning: Employee Engagement

Ask employees what they NEED to deliver better CX and GIVE it to them

A derivative of VOC, VOE (Voice of the Employee) is an analytics version of CX that drives the engagement inside the company. Ideally, this team asks the right questions from employees to learn what prevents them from delivering on those marketing promises we mentioned earlier.

It is amazing what one can learn from the frontline. From illogical or user unfriendly UX design of every day tools, to approval levels of discretionary spending that make no sense, employees highlight the holes in customer experience that leave a brand vulnerable. When VOC and VOE are the same people, the impact of this specific CX job is palpable to all! Very few organizations set up a system for understanding and adapting to VOC and VOE needs. Often VOE is under HR and VOC is under Marketing, completely isolating the insights from one another.

There are important opportunities available for organizations who are able to bring VOC and VOE together and design CX according to those insights.

CX Meaning: Process & Architecture Design

Process and architecture design must allow free movement.

My favorite version of Customer Experience is the design and human experience planning of a product or service. It combines engineering, brand management, design, and VOC. Not many organizations have this CX job clearly defined. It is one of those things that you have to create for yourself. But doing so is not that hard, depending on the life cycle of your brand.

If the brand is building an app and it is a retail business, you can absolutely take this app and integrate it in the physical spaces of the brand. I can promise you either nobody is thinking about it or they are, but they are thinking it is in the distant future. You can take this side of the experience, build it and make a big impact!

CX Meaning: Organization Advocacy

Be an advocate for the Customer so everything the company does keeps the customer in mind

The last role in CX is the most senior. It is also the most difficult. These are the people that work with the executive team to provide funding for Customer Experience departments and programs. They are also the people who design the organization to deliver consistent, easy and seamless experiences for customers.

Think Elena Ford and what she is doing with her company. Executive leaders who are advocates for CX take into account VOC, VOE, marketing, processes and procedures, product development and employee training to build systems around the experiences customers need and want from your brand. For them, and for their brands, CX improves the way they do business. And that, at the end of the day, is the true meaning of CX.

 

If you like this article, please share with others so they can benefit. Sign Up for our newsletter to continue learning how to increase your skills and transform your organization! When you register now, you will get free 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.

customer experience career tips

4 Career Tips for CX Professionals

In honor of the 4th of July, we have rounded up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate steps you need to advance to the next level. Continue Reading →

#CXTHUS Exchange Insights – winners and losers?

Attending conferences is a significant investment of both time and money. Even if you are speaker at the conference, like I was last week, the time away from your non-stop email flow can bring more stress than pleasure to your days. Once we reach a certain level of responsibilities, learning becomes a luxury. The key for all of us is not to let those other demands on our time stop us: there is no professional growth without learning from the successes and failures of our peers. Events like the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference make us more aware of what is going on in our industry and adjacent industries. They help us to better shift our own organizations ahead of our time.

So what did I learn from my peers at the conference?

A good expansion strategy may or may not work

TripAdvisor, the travel website that “enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip” reached 60% of all people who booked their travel online in the second half of 2017. TripAdvisor had a great strategy in mind – allow users to complete purchase without going to the hotel websites. Unfortunately, that strategy did not work. We are talking about this conference takeaway first, because we often overshare successes and do not talk enough about business failures. We can learn even more from our peers’ unsuccessful programs.

Conference speaker, Matthew Mamet, did not delve into exactly what went wrong at TripAdvisor, other than to explain that the hotels did not make it worthwhile to keep on TripAdvisor. You can imagine how long it took to build and launch this e-commerce experience on the travel site. Did somebody put the wrong assumptions in the financial model or did the contract with the hotels lack the proper incentives for commission? Regardless of the reason, sometimes things don’t work as planned. The best thing to do is move on and pivot as fast as possible. That is exactly what TripAdvisor is doing right now. An estimated 1 in 11 worldwide users visited TripAdvisor last July. I would not worry too much about the company. I am sure they will find another way to monetize such a powerful position.

Uber really gets it. All of it.

When Uber achieved 20% growth per month for 43 consecutive months, the company had to start from scratch with all of their processes and procedures. The innovator did not simply scale what it had (something many brands do). Instead, Uber used new technologies to reinvent itself. Uber uses machine learning to flag voice and text messages that over-index on negative sentiment, so they can pay attention to those messages and respond to them faster (read more about how Uber does this). The rideshare company uses the same technology to intercept customer care cases that are forwarded among many agents and do not fit a particular category (the ping-pong effect). Those cases are re-routed to a specialized team to handle. The AI technology also allows Uber to find a needle in a hay stack – the extreme cases in which something really bad happens to the customer. The algorithm looks for specific words early in the customer support message. When those words are there, the complaint is sent to a special care team.

COTA is the Uber in-house platform for digital agent assist that already has saved the company 9.5% – 10% of costs. Uber also does something very few brands do well. The company has a living document, a playbook. When they do something, they actually document it so other sites can replicate it. Not earth shattering in concept, but none of us does it! An important takeaway for Uber (and many of us) is that the saying about self-service – “build it and they will come” – is not working. Much more needs to be done in order to increase adoption of self-service. Many people underestimate the amount of effort and design required AFTER you launch something. Last, but definitely not least, Uber has already realized that the human agent of the future will have a completely new profile. He/she will have new skills, will come from different backgrounds and geographies, and will be paid much more. Uber’s estimate goes as high as 20% – 40% more pay. How do you fund that? With the savings from the digital agents that will be solving basic customer problems.

MGM Rocks

Before you read any further, watch MGM’s Welcome to the #SHOW ad – and pump up the sound. You will not be bored. I promise.

After the 2008 financial crisis, MGM had to find a new identity for the organization. “Welcome to the Show” is a story about the integration of 27 independent brands and the rebuilding of a company culture on the core belief that entertainment is a fundamental human need. To achieve that, MGM incentivized their executive leadership (through bonus and compensation) to travel around the world and become employee trainers on new service level standards. They made the MGM employees heroes and gave them a stage where to run their own shows. The brand is a year into this transformation so it is hard to prove results. One thing is certain though – MGM still strong and employee engagement scores are up. One lesson from MGM – stay longer at the local level when you think you are done, to ensure sustainability and reinforcement of standards. This is probably the hardest part of any hospitality program, especially with 27 resort destinations and 15 brands.

Hertz will not be in business by 2025

This may sound like an extreme prediction, but it is fairly obvious. One of the items covered at the conference was the need “to operationalize their loyalty program in the field.” What does that say to you? To me it says, our loyalty program is not working. The speaker talked about the realization that Hertz is not in the transportation business, but in the customer service industry. The conversation then became more about Hertz’s “concierge” program making “wow” experiences. I hope they have many loyalty members since it seems all efforts are channeled to those customers only.

The most alarming part was the Q&A during which the speaker said that the rideshare industry is NOT a threat to Hertz’s business. This is a classic case of not seeing the red flags as Allen Adamson writes in his great book Shift Ahead. Unless Hertz learns the importance of recognizing and acting fast on new business trends and shifts ahead soon, it will not exist in ten years.

Lessons from the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference abound. We are all returning to our offices ready to put into action what we have learned from the successes and failures of our CX colleagues.

The recording of my speaking engagement at the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference will be available for our readers on our Speaking Page in two weeks. Last, but not least, my favorite quote of the conference: “Do not confuse activity with results.”

If you like this article, please share with others so they can benefit. Sign Up for our newsletter to continue learning how to increase your skills and transform your organization! When you register now, you will get free 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.

ccxp certification test prep

Let’s Get You Certified as a CX Professional!

If you are ready to signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your intention to be part of its leadership ranks, it’s time to work on earning your internationally recognized Certified Customer Experience Professional certification.

Doing so makes you a part of an elite group of certified CX professionals who lead the way in customer experience innovation and action.

The Basics of the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Certification Continue reading “Let’s Get You Certified as a CX Professional!”

time tips for cx experts

CX and the Gift of Time

Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.  Continue reading “CX and the Gift of Time”

customer experience skills builder

CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It

Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in. Often, there is another scenario that is equally sub-optimal for your career development. You might be working on customer experience without recognizing it. The trouble with that is that you cannot sell your transferable skills when you don’t know that you have them. Continue reading “CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It”

CX Skills Builder: Own the Customer Experience

Often, CX professionals do not believe they impact CX design and experience for their customers. Why?  What is the cause of this disconnect?

A month ago, I got a call from an acquaintance saying that her mom got the loyalty points for flying to her destination on an airline carrier, but not coming back. When she called the carrier, the person on the phone told her that since the booking was not made via the airline website, they could not find her reservation and help her.

Who is responsible for this bad customer experience?  More importantly, who has the power, skills and authority to fix it? The answer is easy. All. Of. Us.  Who do customers perceive as the person responsible to fix their customer experience problems? The Customer Experience Director.  I realized this, pointedly, when my acquaintance reached out to me.

In this example, typical of airline industry providers, it is true that we cannot find a reservation that has been made on another channel. It is true that our systems can be better integrated, more CRM-enabled, and easier to work with. It is also true that despite existing limitations, many professionals across the organization can do something to improve the customer experience in a case like this one.

The person on the phone can come up with a creative way to find the customer reservation using another tool.  The person in charge of partnerships can work on a better integration with other booking channels.  The person managing the points tool can enhance the tool so that every customer shows the last 2 flights, regardless of where that customer booked those flights. The list of can-dos and should-dos goes on and on. Yet, these customer experience professionals do not see themselves as owning the customer experience, nor do they feel accountable to do something to improve the customer experience.

To change that, it is imperative to shift the culture in the mindset of customer experience professionals at all levels.  This is very difficult to do.

Even the CX professionals who own the customer experience on paper frequently do not feel empowered to have a real impact. They do not recognize that something as simple as the example above can become a successful project in their portfolio. Instead, customer experience professionals journey map and look at holistic pictures, often without implementing or designing for real changes to the customer experience.

It almost feels like CX professionals have an identity crisis that prevents them from acting with impact. This may be because some are afraid of angering the operation, and so take a more passive approach. A passive approach does not advance the cause of customer experience design, nor does it make it easier to make real changes and to be heard at the table next time. Customer Experience professionals need a portfolio of changes to gain legitimacy in their organizations.  The best way to do that is to find a seam in the experience and fix problems. No matter how small a problem may be, fix it. Don’t just document it, communicate it and assess it. Fix it!

It is okay to jump in and fix the customer experience because this IS your job as a CX professional. At the end of the day, if you are not fixing things you really aren’t  doing your job. Own the customer experience. Be Brave. And you will see how much your internal brand will grow, and you will watch the operation start to come to you for solutions they know will work.

Like this tip? Sign up to have our next Own the Customer Experience CX Pro Tip delivered straight to your Inbox.

 

*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.

Rutgers Customer Experience Course

How To Improve Your CX Skills

Delivering great customer experiences has become a top priority for many companies. Given the increased focus, employees with CX skills are in great demand. While on the job training and reading books provide great learnings, completing a formal education program can accelerate one’s knowledge. Earlier this year, I began exploring academic programs that would expand my understanding of CX best practices as well as provide an opportunity to meet people across different industries who have instituted successful customer-centric programs at their workplace. After evaluating different schools, I ended up attending Rutgers University. Having completed the course and received my certification recently, I can confidently recommend Rutgers for several reasons:

  • The class content is very relevant and applicable. Students gain access to helpful tools and templates that they can bring back to their jobs to make an impact.
  • Classes are taught by top executives and leaders with CX expertise. The speakers all share meaningful examples that reinforce various lessons around developing personas, journey maps, use cases, measurement, culture and more. 
  • The program offers much flexibility. People can take the course online or offline in a classroom setting. 
  • It is a real, university-backed program – not a seminar or conference.

If you are interested in learning more about my personal experience with the program, feel free to contact me at: doingcxright@gmail.com. If you have detailed questions about the course and want to sign up, visit Rutgers’s website: >here

We got our readers a 20% discount off the total tuition cost for the CX course as well as three other courses: Cyber Security, Design Thinking, and Big Data. Simply join our free blog to grab the promo code to save during program registration. We look forward to hearing from you.

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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.