• Cairo Walker

6 Easy Steps to Win with a Tech-driven Customer Culture

Practical Steps to Improve Performance across the Six Key Areas of the Connected Organisation™

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels


Within the Connected Organisation, the link between employee experience and customer experience is inseparable. The following six principles work together to bring about the Connected Organisation:


Direction | Leadership|Culture | Support | DNA | Accountability


Here are some practical steps organisations can take to improve performance across the six key areas.


1. Direction — Get On the Frontline


Those leading initiatives must get out amongst the frontline staff and use the learnings to shape the future. Talk to Team Leaders, but also interview and observe those at ‘the coal face.’ Whether you talk to mining machine operators or those people who engage directly with customers in a call centre, there is a lot to learn.


Here are a few actions to help you get amongst it:

  • Suspend assumptions, challenge norms and ‘givens,’ have a broad mind and cast your net wide.

  • Observe frontline staff, ask clarifying questions about why they are going about things in a certain way.

  • Listen in to the calls at the call centre, ride along in the delivery truck, or the dozer at the mine site.

  • Ask everyone what their most significant bugbears are — issues and opportunities are the same by any other name.

  • Don’t limit discussion to the project you are embarking on; keep things intentionally broad at the early stages.

  • Investigate ‘the enemy’ (competitor, inertia, apathy), the market, recession, growth, socio-political, tech, other trends and the organisational strategy.

  • Look for patterns, opportunities, issues and gaps and use these to shape your initiative.


2. Leadership — At All Levels in the Organisation


Leadership happens at all levels in the organisation and is distinct from management. Whilst the education and orientation of Senior Management is essential, so too is the ability to plant and harvest the seed of leadership beyond senior management. There will be social influencers and future leaders amongst your people. Here are some cues to help enrol critical people at all levels to share the vision and drive success.

  • Look for advocates and key people of influence at the research stage — often crucial influencers will be pointed out by others. Influencers will also express a deeper interest in the initiative or be forthcoming with useful artefacts and insights.

  • Create a community of practice to up-skill content and process owners and end-users. Create an outcomes focus, otherwise, members will fail to find membership useful, and attendance will quickly fall away.

  • Educate and orient leaders around the direction you are heading in their language; focus on their managerial and organisational hot spots to address their broader business concerns.

  • Focus on outcomes for any given audience, what are you trying to achieve that a senior team member will care about? What will a frontline operator want as an outcome?


3. Culture


The organisational culture and its personality are integral to the shape and success of the Connected Organisation. Culture is a big, ingrained thing that takes a long time to reshape, never-the-less the best time to start is now. The values of a tech-driven customer culture are:

  • Delegation over control

  • Action over planning

  • Collaboration over individual effort

  • Outcomes over ideas

  • Boldness over caution

A tech-driven customer culture that promotes an external orientation and engages with customers and partners to find new solutions is essential for success. In this environment, staff understand the value of their input. They feel a sense of control and ownership over the result.


Some practical ways to get started include:

  • Research ‘data-driven customer culture’ — the tech-driven customer culture is your aim, but it’s new, and you’ll need to figure out what this means for you.

  • View change as a positive and ever-present part of the organisational DNA. Move away from spinning up a change management team as part of a new initiative. Take the change management budgets and use them to support programs towards your tech-driven customer culture.

  • Engage people at all level of the organisation in conversation around the new ‘ways of doing things around here’. Start as you mean to go on, ask individuals and business units throughout the organisation how they might give the values a workout. Have people put forward tangible, practical ways they are going to reshape their work practices and outcomes.


4. Support — Systems Thinking


‘Systems thinking’ is a practice that sees each system as part of a system.

Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. — Margaret Rouse, https://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/systems-thinking

Another way to say this is, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’

Success indicates an evolved ecosystem to support new ways of working. Support can take many forms including training, growing the requisite capability in people, creating new systems and processes, establishing measures for early feedback, and establishing the right data sets and ways to use these effectively. The fundamental metric by which to implement support and measure the success of the same is:

How do we ensure that no-one fails?

The following steps will help you

  1. Processes, training, build, capability, lean, data.

  2. Aptitude — teams, departments, individuals.

  3. Hone in on the risk areas AND leverage the people, departments with strengths in those areas to:

  • Build the capability in the team

  • Create new systems and processes

  • Put training mechanisms in place

  • Create measures for early feedback

  • Implement systems

  • Establish data sets


5. DNA — Excellent Delivery to the Customer


The end-game relies on highly engaged staff equipped to deliver to the customer consistently. Excellent customer delivery results in ongoing customer satisfaction and a superior experience for customers whenever and wherever they need it. When customers have a good relationship with the organisation you have trust, you have service and, price becomes a non-issue.


Successful organisations experience continued growth and business momentum as the by-product.


The key to delivering an excellent customer experience lies in equipping your staff adequately by providing the tools to answer customer questions. Here are a few practical considerations to help get underway:

  • Ensure the team can supply answers in the way that customers position questions.

  • Rather than undertaking costly system integration projects, use artificial intelligence and bots to stitch together disparate processes and information sources.

  • Ensure that teams and processes reflect the changes made (see the next point).

The bank is a classic example. Think about calling a bank as a customer and being passed from one person to another. The customer deals with one person concerning their account, another for Superannuation, one for business banking. At each step, the customer undergoes identification and explains over and over their situation and requirements. Not only is this a terrible experience for the client, but it’s also awful for the frontline staff — especially the one at the end of the chain who experiences the customer at their most frustrated.


Creating a seamless experience no longer requires full integration between systems; nor does it have to be expensive.


Time and effort can now shift from the systems to the business structure. If one frontline operator is now equipped to answer questions across multiple products and offerings — what will the immediate team look like? What kind of support will the team require, and what does it mean for corporate roles?


6. Accountability — Measure, loopback, act


Every aspect of the business needs to be measured, understood and acted upon as part of a singular framework. Customers, employees, teams, production, products, services — all require regular feedback loops that are easy to understand. Success indicates that both simple and more sophisticated measurements are in place around digital maturity, organisational agility, business continuity, satisfaction, revenue and profit.


Step 1: Establish both sophisticated and straightforward areas to measure.


Step 2: For each of the above, determine the measures — conversion, up-sell /purchase second product or service, social sentiment, retention, referral


Step 3: Define what constitutes failure, success and triumph.


Step 4: Establish ways to loop back on all to redirect failures, amplify success to the next level and leverage triumphs


Tip: Automate everything. In the Connected Organisation AI, bots and machines learn and do the heavy lifting.


Summary

Although there is room for improvement, the technology can finally help moves organisations towards a tech-driven customer culture™without the high expense and complexity that comes with full-scale integration.


Whilst technology is an enabler; the real key lies in human-centred design. The organisations that will win on customer service and loyalty are those that put frontline staff and the customer together to design solutions.