Research and experience show there are 4 stages to getting and keeping a customer culture: Initiation, Implementation, Embedding and Reinforcement. In my last two posts I outlined the actions to take at the initiation and implementation stages. In this post I focus on the 7 actions to take during the embedding stage.
The focus of this stage is on institutionalizing the customer culture through supporting systems, on-going training, increased employee empowerment and accountability of all individuals and teams for delivering an improved customer experience.
1. Formalization of customer culture through symbols, rituals and artifacts
This often includes organization structure changes, more open office designs, images of customers taking precedence over images of products, customer invitations to corporate meetings and cross-function teams evaluating new market opportunities.
2. Development of customer focus behaviors at leader and individual levels
Key performance indicators measuring the level of customer focus are formalized for performance reviews and designing personal development programs.
3. Delegation of decisions from the Customer Engagement Council (made up of senior and influential leaders) to all organization members
The power to make decisions on behalf of the company shifts to all employees within an agreed framework. This new empowerment and accountability is sometimes hard to accept by long-standing employees. Some companies have used a “buddy” approach to help less experienced staff gain new skills and confidence.
Culture change is not a “bolt-on”; it is a “built-in” process. Effectively done, it can’t be “unbolted”. Measurement covering the breadth and depth of the organization is necessary to determine to what extent customer culture has been built in.
5. Measurement of customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy against targets
Ongoing measurement is part of customer culture embedding and provides a frequent benchmark of customer engagement performance. It guides how the organization needs to adapt to changing market trends and customer needs.
6. Formal alignment of rewards and recognition with customer metrics
Remuneration systems and promotion is formally tied to customer culture behaviors and customer engagement performance.
7. On-going training program
This is valuable for two groups:
- new and recent hires
- pockets and groups within the organization found to be lacking a customer mindset and relevant skills
Documented case studies of successes and learnings are often used to demonstrate successful customer engagement experiences.
My next post will outline the actions required to reinforce the customer culture and avoid the complacency and arrogance that frequently occurs with sustained success.