You’ve got your Voice of the Customer program in place. Your Client or Customer Advisory Board is humming along. You have built a discipline around customer journey mapping. You have the attention and support of leadership for customer experience improvement.
So why have your Net Promoter Scores started to plateau?
The answer is likely right in front of you. All around you. It’s hidden in how your organizational teams work, or don’t work, together.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
In our research into customer-centric culture, we found strong cross-departmental working relationships were present in truly customer-centric and highly engaged workforces but were lacking in workforces on the other side of the spectrum.
We found a 24-point gap on this one item between employee detractors (giving a 0-6 on an 11-point likelihood to recommend employer scale) and promoters (those giving a 9 or a 10 rating on the same eNPS question).
To put the customer at the heart of business, it’s clear different departments need to work together, support each other, share information, seek input and ideas from those outside their sphere of expertise or influence, and work toward common goals.
Ultimately, success in this area is about building internal trust. Think about it: When organizational groups are in opposition, the definition of the ‘right’ choice for the customer is murky at best. When there is tension between people serving customers and those marketing to them, or between people developing products and those selling them, customers are the ones who suffer.
It’s a very common issue. If you asked the people in your company about internal working relationships, you’d likely hear concerns. However, the issue gets little airplay. There’s a perceived distance between internal working relationships and the customer, and a lot of complexity in shifting these relationships. (And, let’s be honest, personalities and politics are at play.)
We’re here to tell you that silo busting or bending is challenging, but it’s possible. A few small steps today may help to strengthen these bonds tomorrow. Here are a few ideas for you to consider when focusing your customer experience strategy on internal relationships:
Building Teams that Cross Organizational Boundaries
In the late nineties, LEGO purportedly was losing traction. They had a hyper-charged focus on innovation, but their new products failed to tap into what parents and children have always loved about LEGO—it’s a system of play that can occupy a child’s imagination and hands for hours on end.
One of the ways that LEGO managed its phoenix-from-the-ashes move in the early 2000s was by restructuring the organization. They engaged employees by creating new positions and changing existing roles—and, in a stroke of genius, they built teams that consisted of customer service and product-design associates. By bringing these two roles together, customer service could offer the customer perspective and product designers could channel their innovation toward what customers needed and wanted.
Job Shadowing to Drive Understanding and Empathy
In the run up to the holiday season last year, Tesco Supermarket’s CEO, Dave Lewis, instructed all head-office staff to work in the stores. This was an attempt to re-focus the company on the customer, making the retailer the “consumer’s champion” once again. The Feet on the Floor initiative meant that 4,000 head-office staff were asked to work alongside associates and customers to get a sense of the challenges, barriers, and opportunities for improvement—whilst also improving service levels.
Seeking Input and Ideas from All Employees
You may listen to your customers every day, in real-time. But most companies are overlooking the opportunity to make a habit of listening to employees. Your employees, if asked, can tell you:
- What problems are most common for your customers today. And where the pain lies.
- Which departments and individuals are doing a great job of supporting the customer’s experience—be they front or back stage.
- Opportunities for innovating around the customer experience.
- Areas for improving operational efficiency.
- Strengths and challenges in the work environment and culture.
A number of new tools have recently been released in support of just these types of activities. These include:
- Memo App: An app that allows employees to vent anonymously about any topic that might be on their mind.
- OfficeVibe: A tool that presents one question a week to your employee population to get a regular pulse check.
- PeopleMetrics Voice of the Internal Customer Experience: A number of our clients have started to consider capturing feedback on internal customer experiences. This allows internal departments to be measured, and staff can receive constructive and positive feedback in the same way as employees on the frontline.
- PeopleMetrics Feedback Friday Tool: Similar to OfficeVibe, we offer an opportunity for you to capture and analyze open-ended feedback from employees each week. A simple, one-question survey—with sophisticated text analytics functionality behind the scenes—ensures that sentiment and trends across the employee population are being heard, understood, and discussed on an ongoing basis.
Regularly listening and sharing feedback from employees across departments and between levels is an excellent way to build stronger internal working relationships and, as Henry Ford said, move from coming together to truly working together for mutual success.
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