Customer-Centric Cultures are Made of This

Annie on Customer Experience

Courtesy of www.AnnieLennox.com

You can travel the world and the seven seas, everybody’s looking for customer-centric cultures.

Some customers want to use you.  None of them want to get used by you.  Some of them want to abuse you.  None of them want to be abused.

Thanks to Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics, for getting me to think about customer-centric cultures in a way that we all can relate to.  Over the past several years I am mind-blown at how many organizations are on the quest to create more customer-centric workplace cultures.

Everybody is looking for it

I spend a lot of my life working with customer experience and contact center leaders.  I participate in various events with different associations.  Two of my most active associations are the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and the Call Center Network group (CCNG).

Over the past couple of months I have noticed that members in both of these associations have been seeking even more (above the normal) solutions to increase employee engagement in the context of building more customer–centric cultures. You may be asking, what’s the difference between customer-centric employee engagement and employee engagement? The difference between the two is not in how you go about engaging employees, it’s more about why you want more engaged employees.

For companies that sell products and services to consumers or other businesses they are going to be more interested in customer-centric employee engagement because customers are the reason they are able to survive as an organization. Without customers they would not exist.

Travel the world and the seven seas

Based on the various reports you review on employee engagement, organizations everywhere are looking for solutions to help improve their employee engagement. In a 2012 report released by Kenexa® they stated that the average employee engagement of the six major economies surveyed (U.S., U.K., India, Brazil, China, and Germany) came out to 54 percent, down 6 percent from 2010. The previous report also presented a decline from previous levels.

All of these reports reflect the fact that everybody is seeking to improve employee engagement and to stop its decline. But it’s going to take more than dreaming and common wisdom to make it happen. Simple math tells us that common wisdom is the current factor contributing to the long-term decline in employee engagement. Most people are doing the same thing and when the majority is doing the same thing the aggregate performance moves accordingly.

While the statistical analysis is depressing, there are some organizations that have immunized themselves from this low employee engagement plague. You will find these organizations in various industries and in various geographic locations around the globe. Their focus may also vary but they all are experiencing more positive organizational performance as a result of their efforts. Customer-centric organizations experience some of the most extraordinary organizational performance gains of all organizations. Their upside potential is the highest.

Hold your head up, keep your head up, movin’ on…

If you hold your head up and look to see what those that are experiencing extraordinary gains are doing you will see they are moving on from what worked thirty years ago. We all know the workplace and society has changed. We all know there are more generations of people in the workplace today than ever before. We all know that what used to work then may not work today. We all want a better tomorrow.

Building a more customer-centric organization can be done in a few different ways. First, you must ask yourself if you want it to be sustainable. If your answer is yes, then you want to use the right-brained method to engage employees. The right-brained method focuses on purpose and well-being. The right-brained method generates more long-term value. While the right-brained method is more rewarding it is also more difficult and often avoided or just misunderstood.

Two elements of the right-brained approach to employee engagement are purpose and well-being. Purpose defines why the organization exists. The left-brained approach tries to use purpose as well but in a very different manner. A right-brained approach may focus on the organization’s purpose as “improving the financial freedom of our clients”, and the left-brained approach may be to “increase shareholder value”. Both can be used to improve customer-centricity. But which one is more intrinsically motivating to you? Which one can help you to stay the course and weather the storm?

Well-being is a more general concept that focuses on the condition of an individual. At work we most often focus on an individual’s social and psychological state. For the sense of well-being to be high at work they are experiencing more positive feelings than negative feelings at work.

Improving well-being is more difficult than constructing a sense of purpose because what causes a higher sense of well-being in individuals is unique. While this appears to be a daunting task it’s comforting to know there is a method to improving well-being that is universal. It doesn’t matter if you are in Bangladesh, Budapest, or Boston this approach works everywhere.

To improve well-being of individuals you can focus on a systematic approach that improves:

  • Feeling Valued
  • Conflict Management
  • Ownership
  • Openness
  • Motivation
  • Feedback
  • Difference Management

For the left-brainers, these elements can be quantified and used as a means to plan your right-brained activities.

7 keys to employee engagementMore than Sweet Dreams

Building a more customer-centric culture is a fantasy and unrealistic for many. The only way they will ever experience a more customer-centric culture is by going to sleep and finding it in dreams. So while others are falling asleep and living in fantasy land convert your dreams into reality and create a right-brained customer-centric culture that will allow you the financial freedom to sail the world and the seven seas.

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