3 Ideas to Help Build a Customer-First Culture
Creating a good customer experience is extremely hard if you don’t see the point. While you may have grand customer experience plans for your company, if your vision is not shared by the entire organization (most importantly your customer-facing teams) those plans are unlikely to ever come to fruition. For most service brands, there's a disconnect between their customer experience goals, and what the frontline feels empowered and motivated to deliver. Worse, frontline teams are unaware of what the goals are in the first place. But the difference between a motivated and unmotivated frontline team isn’t inherent, in fact it’s not even a matter of qualifications or skills, it’s a matter of culture.
Company culture is how you do what you do in the workplace. It’s the collection of all your systems, behaviors and values that create an experience for your employees and your customers. If your culture isn’t right, everything else becomes harder. Your customer experience investments will become less successful and more expensive and your teams are less likely to feel motivated and fulfilled. Without a collective sense of motivation, belonging, fulfillment and purpose, retaining employees and subsequently customers becomes extremely difficult. On the bright side, a customer-first culture is about having a happy and high performing team. Individuals feel supported, connected to their purpose and understand how their role contributes to the bigger picture.
But how do you actually go about building a customer-first culture? How do you create a culture where every region, branch, team and individual are genuinely invested in and motivated to deliver awesome customer experiences, every time? While culture is not something that can be mustered up overnight, the following three ideas present themselves as long term solutions to bake customer-centricity into your organization at scale.
1. Make Customer Feedback Visible at All Times
The best way to bring customer sentiment into your culture and connect your teams to the impact they’re making is to have real-time customer feedback visible at all times. We’re talking on screens around the office, straight to frontline employee’s devices and in presentations at weekly team meetings. When individuals and teams can constantly see what customers are saying, they not only get a firm grasp around what they’re doing well and what they can work on, but they also get to see the fruits of their labor. Customer feedback presents an efficient and repeatable way to ensure that frontline staff hear a regular heartbeat of appreciation for a job well done.
AskNicely TV is one of the easiest ways to make customer feedback visible at all times, and is used by service brands such as Colosseum Dental, Schweiger Dermatology Group and DebitSuccess. AskNicely TV displays real-time customer feedback, as well as a leaderboard of branches, teams and locations with the highest NPS scores.
AskNicely TV works to create customer-centric cultures by:
Making Customer Feedback Visible Every Day: To create a culture shift, feedback needs to be visible all day, every day. AskNicely TV allows the frontline to see the direct impact of their work in the moment.
Motivation Through Gamification: Nothing gets people motivated like a bit of friendly competition. The AskNicely team leaderboard shows which teams, branches and locations have the best NPS, and motivates employees to be at the top of their game. This also reminds individuals that the customer experience is a TEAM effort, and everyone’s contribution counts.
A Commitment to Customer Experience: The simple act of displaying customer feedback is a commitment in and of itself. It shows customers you’re listening, and connects employees to their purpose.
2. Use Customer Feedback as the Centerpiece for Recognition & Coaching Conversations
To create a culture where employees are genuinely motivated to create awesome customer experiences, you need to not only make feedback visible, but use it to recognize employees and guide coaching conversations. Like the coach of a sports team who aims to continually improve each player, the key is delivering coaching in small, actionable doses that are specific to each person. Using customer feedback to do this shows employees specific improvements based on actual customer sentiment instead of high level training jargon. It helps individuals by highlighting the most common themes that customers point out when they leave a high or low rating in their feedback.
The KEY here is using small soundbites of feedback and regularly coaching for small improvements. When an employee learns something, fixes it and gets recognized for the improvement, it creates a sense of accomplishment and progress, which motivates them to keep achieving. When you can bring that sense of motivation across an entire organization, that’s when a customer-first culture starts to blossom.
AskNicely customer DebitSuccess uses this method of coaching for small improvements, and saw dramatic improvements to their NPS scores. Agents who ranked in the bottom third, increased on average 21.5 NPS to more closely match the high performers. Individual success was mirrored in the performance of the firm overall and individual improvements added up to increase the firm’s NPS score by a whopping 20.8 points.
3. Listen To & Act On Feedback From Your Team
No great customer-first culture was ever achieved by high level executives preaching to their teams. Culture is created through collaboration and authentic involvement from every individual in an organization.
When you listen to and act on feedback from your customer-facing teams, you:
- Understand more about your customers and what matters most to them. “While you’re standing in the corner office trying to spot problems from 50,000 feet, your frontline teams are seeing them up close. If you can activate your team and turn them into your eyes and ears, you’ll learn more about your business than you ever dreamed possible” – David Reiss
- Make employees feel valued, seen and heard. It makes individuals realize: What I do and say matters.
- You learn more about what your teams need in order for them to do their jobs better. At Stay Upright, a motorcycle driving school in Australia, it was until one of their instructors said “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get some initial feedback from our students, as soon as they leave the room”, that a customer experience tool was implemented.
- Create a better support system for frontline teams. Customer service roles can be tough. To maintain customer-first culture, you need to check in with your team and see how they’re doing. Is there something they’re struggling with? Do they know how to deal with negative feedback? Do they have the tools they need to thrive? You won’t know until you ask.
When we talk about building a customer-first culture, we’re really talking about building an employee-first culture. When you fuel your frontline teams with customer feedback, coach them for small improvements based on real customer sentiment AND provide space for them to share their thoughts and feedback, you create a sense of collective motivation where individuals feel genuinely empowered to put customers first.
Want to see this in action? Learn how Houwzer, a modern, socially responsible real estate and mortgage brokerage for savvy homeowners built a customer-first culture of coaching and self-improvement here.