It’s often said that culture starts from the top and has to be driven by the CEO and the most senior team in the organisation. I don’t disagree but there are also lots of ways that you can change culture from within your organisation, starting small and creating a ripple effect that gathers momentum and delivers real change.
You don’t have to be a CEO or Chief Customer Officer to change the culture.
There are ways to create a customer centric culture that start to change the way others think about and see customers. But it’s not easy. It takes tenacity, determination and an unwavering belief in your cause. Culture change is not for the faint hearted
When I was fairly junior in my career and in my first customer service manager role, I worked for one of those organisations who made the claim about customers at the heart. They were a financial services company, and I led a small call centre team dealing with life assurance. All the agent performance measures were focused on business efficiency with no measure of how well customer needs were being met. While there I was able to influence and implement several changes which led to an increase in customer retention rates and higher customer satisfaction.
How? By seeing the business through the eyes of the customer, questioning and challenging the status quo and creating a business case that demonstrated clear return on investment for the organisation. It wasn’t easy and there was plenty of pushback but ultimately resulted in the whole organisation adopting the same approach. It created a culture shift.
Whatever your role, here are just a few of the small ways you can start to create a ripple of change in your organisation.
1. The Customer Chair
In your team meetings, or other meetings you attend, leave an empty chair for the customer. Remind people that there is a ‘customer’ in the room and what they would think of the meeting and the decisions being made.
In one organisation we even had life sized cardboard cut outs of representative customers, have them backstories and names and involved them in training sessions, meetings and client visits so the customer was always front of mind and in the room.
2. Voice of the Customer
Think about how you can get the voice of customers into your decisions, proposals and ideas. Bringing data to life through customer comments, stories and sentiment can be a really powerful way to change how people think about customers.
In a debt collection organisation I worked for we videoed customers (with their consent of course) who were prepared to tell their story – how they got into debt, what their goals were and what support and help they needed to achieve them). We even took one of our customers to our European conference where he shared his story with the most senior leaders in the organisation with amazing feedback.
3. Mind your Language
Language is one of the most powerful ways to change culture – how you talk about and talk to customers says a lot. Subtle changes can be powerful. In one organisation changing the titles of our contact centre team from Collections Negotiators to Customer Account Associates made a real different as did changing Debtors to Customers. What does the language in your organisation say about your culture and what changes can you help to make?
Hope you enjoyed these tips – they may seem simple and small, but often that’s the best way to start a customer culture change revolution!
Director of Customer Services
Swan Housing Group