How do you know if the work you’re doing to transform your company’s culture is effective and is making an impact?

Customer experience professionals fight hard for the customer and are often challenged when it comes to making the case for improving the customer experience and transforming the company culture to be customer-centric versus other, more easily quantifiable company initiatives.

CX Network and Forrester’s Sam Stern collaborated on a report titled Leading Indicators of an Effective Culture Transformation, which identifies how to track indicators of progress toward customer-centricity. Culture change requires a lot of heavy lifting and is slow to happen and to show ROI. In today’s post, I’ll take a look at the four indicators they’ve identified in their research with 30 companies that have gone through culture transformations. The most-successful companies tracked these indicators from the start to understand if their transformation efforts were on track.

1. A shared vision
Start with a vision. Your customer experience vision will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action.

Importantly, it must be communicated, shared, and reinforced. Every employee must know the vision for the intended experience and understand why it’s important to the company and to what they do day in and day out.

2. Job-specific behaviors
As a follow-on to that last statement, employees need to translate that vision into reality, into how they act both internally and with and for their customers. Their actions must be aligned with the vision. Ongoing training and reinforcement of customer-centric behaviors are a must.

3. Consistent performance
Employees’ consistent customer-centric behaviors and actions that are aligned with the customer experience vision are critical. To assess employee behaviors, Forrester recommends using some observational techniques like mystery shopping, surveying employees about their customer-centric behaviors, including those behaviors in their performance reviews, and analyzing customer feedback to learn if they’ve noticed any improvements.

Employee consistency drives organizational/cultural consistency, which ultimately results in customer experience consistency. And that consistency breeds trusts and builds relationships.

4. Transformed outcomes
It’s important to measure and evaluate those employee behaviors to ensure that employees truly are displaying customer-centric abilities and actions. In addition, to gauge the transformation’s full effect on both customers and employees, companies measure improvements and track business metrics. Forrester notes in the report that most companies track these four metrics (and they also include examples of companies who have done just so):

  • reported customer outcomes
  • actual customer outcomes
  • reported employee outcomes
  • actual employee outcomes

The report wraps up with a section on understanding (and communicating) your purpose behind the transformation before embarking on it because, as you as a customer experience professional know, a culture transformation is a huge undertaking and requires not only complete executive buy-in and commitment but also full organizational involvement. A few “whys” uncovered during Forrester’s research include:

  • helping passionate employees who lack a shared direction
  • expanding the organization’s definition of excellence to include customer experience
  • differentiating the business with a great customer experience, and
  • getting out of a self-inflicted rut

Those are all lofty – yet necessary and attainable – goals. Be sure to remind the entire organization of the why on a regular basis as you’re traversing this journey.

Why does your company need a culture transformation?

For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny. -Tony Hsieh