Unforgettable is a customer experience education program, focused on delivering fresh content weekly to give business leaders what they need to succeed in a customer-driven, digitally-disrupted world. The program brings together the expert minds of Jay Baer, Shep Hyken, Jeanne Bliss, Ian Golding, and Blake Morgan to spotlight modern customer experience excellence. Get the latest content by bookmarking smartercx.com/unforgettable.
In episode 24 of Unforgettable, Ian Golding, global customer experience specialist, shares the secret to creating a customer-centric organization: communication. Ian describes the lengths to which organizations will go to bring the customer experience to life for employees, and simple but impactful exercises that will infuse customer experience discussions into all parts of an organization. Because the better your organization can communicate about customer experience, the better they can deliver on it.
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Hi, this is Ian Golding, global customer experience specialist bringing you episode 24 of Unforgettable, the series all about delivering great customer experiences.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is the biggest piece of advice I give to organizations working to bring their goals of transforming into a customer-centric organization to life. Communication is a vital skill and comes in many different forms – verbal, written, and even theater.
Theater? Here’s an example to explain: I spent seven years as head of group customer experience for an online retailer. The challenge for most of our employees, roughly 10,000 of them at that time, was that unless you worked in a warehouse or for a product team, it was impossible to actually see the experience. For a business like that, the customer experience was an ethereal thing.
Similarly, if you work in financial services, unless you work in the branch of a bank, it’s very uncommon to know all the ins and outs of how the bank works, to physically see the experience. In the case of my retailer, we discovered that communicating through standard emails, articles on intranets, and so on was, not enough to bring the experience to life. We found that to effectively communicate and understand the customer’s experience, we had to live it through theater.
One of our theatrical events was known as “feet in the street”. Our head office was a converted aircraft hanger for 2,000 employees, with an enormous corridor down the center of the building. We recreated the stages of our customer journey in that corridor. We got all 2,000 people at that location to walk through the journey, to see what the product looked like, to listen to phone calls, to receive data and information and customer comments to bring the experience to life.
A few years later we did another event called “back to the future” based on the classic American movie. We rented a DeLorean and parked it front of the building because we wanted our employees to remember where we started on customer experience journey, and how far we’ve come, but most importantly, where we still needed to go.
Communication is so important, and not just in the theatrical sense, but in terms of keeping the discussion about customer experience open and active. Another example that isn’t as theatrical, but still powerful, is from an Indian company with whom I worked. This company decided to start every meeting, from the boardroom to the breakroom, with what they call “the customer minute”, in which someone volunteers recent experiences of their own, or an experience that their customers were having.
The commitment to this exercise instilled communication around customer experience as something that influenced every conversation in the organization. They now call it the “customer 15 minutes”, because that’s what it has become.
No matter the execution, this is a simple principle: how are you communicating the importance of customer experience in your organization? How are you sharing stores, the good things, the bad things, the wins, the opportunities? The better your organization is able to communicate your work and effort around customer experiences the more likely it is that you will be able to sustain your focus on it.