Let’s dance: making business change go viral at your company

 

Getting customer-centricity right at your organisation means getting everyone dancing to the same tune. Chris Breslin’s got some tips for getting everyone on the beat.

Chris Breslin_Confirmit (1) bwWe have all seen it. 

Practically every organisation – big or small, private or public, new or old – now has a line in its mission statement declaring its commitment to its customers: ‘we put the customer at the heart of our business’, ‘customer first’, ‘our focus is on building a partnership with our customers’.

This sometimes new-found customer-centricity is great.

When they actually mean it.

Any attempt to focus on the customer’s perspective while making business decisions is commendable and, let’s face it, these days mandatory if you want to survive in the highly competitive global market place. But actions speak louder than words, so the saying goes. As well as acknowledging the need to focus on your customers, you have to actually do it.

And that’s the tricky part – getting everyone in your organisation dancing to the same tune, in time and on the beat. So how do you ensure your teams not only have the insights available to them to make the right decisions, but more importantly, inspire them to change?

Because no one really likes change and it isn’t easy to convince large groups of people to move out of their comfort zones to try something new.

Even the most inspiring corporate bonding and training days are easily forgotten once everyone is back at their desk in the real world. 

The answer is to encourage and reward employees for taking a risk, to break out of the mould to transform the way they do things.

In short, it’s about making change go viral.

 

Get into the groove

Viral change typically involves a trailblazer who dares to be different and proves that a new behaviour is not only possible, but desirable and valued.

This is beautifully demonstrated by the now-famous video of a man at a music festival dancing alone. At first, he looks like a lone oddball. But then someone joins him. Then more people join, until almost everyone is dancing and the only oddballs are those who haven’t joined in.

It may seem like a strange analogy, but it’s incredibly close to what businesses need to achieve to take change viral.

The focus has to be on enabling people to change. The usual team ‘sheep dip’ approach of a big day out full of corporate slogans isn’t going to get people dancing in the long term, but there are a number of things that will.

Consider the following three approaches and how they may fit into your business:

 

1. Pump up the volume

It’s tempting to try to ‘own’ the customer experience process, but no one person or team can control the customer experience itself. Instead we have to put the insights into the hands of all the people who can use it.

This means providing as many people as possible in the organisation with a window into the feedback generated through the voice-of-the-customer program.

Think of it as dozens – or perhaps even hundreds – of mini control centres driven by a central hub. Each employee is responsible for using that insight to impact the customer experience in their area of control, in their own way but aligned to a shared vision and philosophy.

When an action needs to be taken that’s beyond their remit, the control centre should enable them to escalate issues to the right person.

 

2. Shake it off

Of course, data alone won’t drive the behavioural change that will really make a difference to the customer experience across all touchpoints. This means we need to focus on making it easy for people to change the way they respond to the insight they access.

Part of this is about making sure your teams know they have the autonomy to make decisions themselves without fear of being blamed if that decision wasn’t right.

But there is more that can be done.

An area that’s growing in interest from a CX perspective is ‘nudge theory’ – basically giving people a little nudge in the right direction so that it’s easy – or even fun – to change what they’re doing. It’s been used by government as a way to encourage people to eat more healthily or drink less alcohol, but its applications in a business environment can be significant.

Some retailers, for example, give staff the ability to give one customer a day either a freebie, or a discount at their discretion. It’s a simple way to encourage customer-facing teams to focus a bit more on the customer and decide who’d best benefit from a little more love.

 

3. Do the hustle

Back to our dancing analogy – how do we get people to join us?

Data is a great start, and nudging people to make change easier will help further. But how do we take it to the next level and get that viral change that really makes an impact?

If you think of the core CX team (i.e. you) as the first dancer, madly flinging themselves about, what we really need is that first follower. The person who starts making people see that something is beginning to happen. Something I always recommend to businesses who are building a VoC program is to build a network of champions around the company.

These champions can not only answer questions and help to ensure the value of the program is understood, they can also become your first dancing partner. As they begin to adopt the behaviours you’re looking to cultivate, and most importantly, talk about those behaviours to show they work, then people will begin to join in.

Key tip: choose the right people. They need to be brave, they need to be slightly wacky but, most importantly they need to be people who the rest of the teams will relate to.

 

We got the beat

Asking people to change their behaviours can be an uphill battle. As the old joke goes, how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.

What is critical is that you ensure that your teams have access to that mini command centre so they are basing their behaviour on something solid.

There’s a fine line between a big group of people dancing together and total arm flinging, foot stomping anarchy.

And that line, is accurate customer insight.

 

Chris Breslin is manager, Australia and New Zealand at Confirmit.

 

Further reading