In order for an organization to be truly customer centric, looking at everything from the customer’s perspective must be a shared value and basic component of the organization’s culture. If that value is to permeate the organization to the individual level, employees must be empowered to take personal ownership of the customer experience. They also need to understand the customer journey, their role in the customer experience, and be equipped with everything they need to always act in the best interest of the customer. Here are a few ways you can begin to empower your employees in a customer-centric organization.
Provide Training and Resources
A key component to building a customer-centric culture is providing necessary knowledge, skills, and resources for your employees. Customer centricity training helps empower employees with the skills and confidence to see their roles from the customer’s perspective and take personal ownership of actions that will improve the customer experience. Consider using experiential learning during training so that your employees are not just reading, watching, or listening, but actually learning by doing. This significantly increases the chances of the training being retained and applied to life back on the job.
Make Expectations and Best Practices Clear
It is difficult for individuals to follow through on customer-centric behaviors if the expectations and best practices for doing so are unclear. Customer-facing employees need to have a complete understanding of the customer service standards for the organization, and all employees must be fully trained on any guidelines and best practices that have been implemented for the benefit of the customer. They also need to know the process for proposing new ideas to improve the customer experience; if new ideas always fall through the cracks, people will stop sharing them.
An organization can’t be customer centric if it is composed of operational silos. When working in isolation, each area of the business may decide to implement policies or procedures that seem beneficial to the customer without a full understanding of how the changes they make might affect the overall customer experience. If every department is doing this, the result might look like a patchwork of ideas that don’t add up to a comprehensive, seamless customer journey. Each department needs to have an understanding of the full customer journey, and every department’s place in it, in order to be able to see how the decisions they make impact the customer experience.
Provide Autonomy and Authority
Predicting the behavior of customers in a general sense allows for implementing policies and procedures based on the most common scenarios. But in the moment, at the individual level, a customer can be unpredictable. Requiring employees to check in about every decision and every action can be disempowering, discouraging, and will ultimately impede the momentum of the customer centricity initiative. If you have provided training, made your guidelines and best practices clear, and have open lines of communication, your employees will be equipped to handle unexpected customer situations as they arise in a way that improves the customer experience.
Ensure Leadership Support
In order to feel fully empowered to bring up new ideas, share information, or make customer-centric decisions, employees need to know they have the support of their managers and company leaders. If leadership does not champion customer centricity, lead by example, or coach and mentor employees, it will seem like the company is not serious about the initiative. Therefore, company leaders must support an improved customer experience and support individual efforts to behave in a customer-centric manner. Doing so will empower employees because they will feel confident with the new cultural norms, and will more readily adopt the right mindset and behaviors to deliver a truly exceptional customer experience.
Help Your Employees Take Care of Your Customers
If you plan to implement a shift to create a customer centric culture at your organization, don’t overlook the role of empowering employees. If your employees believe in the work that you do, chances are they will be onboard with the idea of a customer-centric culture – but only if they have the knowledge, skills, and support to participate fully in the new culture. If your employees attempt to engage with the initiative only to be shut down without explanation, or run into walls at every turn, not only will they not be able to follow through, they will lose the will to try. But if you provide ample support, training, and communication, you might be surprised at how quickly a culture of customer centricity begins to flourish.
Learn more about this topic in the book, “Customer Centricity: A Present and Future Priority,” written by Eagle’s Flight’s founder and CEO, Phil Geldart.