We joke about the way some people can just get things to go their way simply by being them. You know, that guy Joe, he had no business getting that meeting with the big client, but he basically charmed his way in!
We often forgive the leaders of smaller, local brands because we simply like them. We know their intentions are good, so we don’t make a fuss if there’s a misstep in our customer journey.
But as organizations grow, especially rapidly, there is a pattern I’ve seen again and again.
Leaders Need Training Too
The entrepreneur leader is often successful because of WHO they are, not WHAT they do. This leader is often charismatic, willing to put in the extra work to get things done, and hungry for the success of what’s next.
As the company grows, the leader hires people to fill roles. The roles are defined by needs and skillsets, and there might not be a lot of documentation around just how things are done.
Each new leader begins to define their own roles and their own ways of doing things, and their teams grow with people who understand the WHAT but not the WHY or the HOW that made our hero entrepreneur successful in the first place.
And as all this growth happens, our CEO becomes more and more disconnected from the actual customer experience.
Employees Shouldn't Have to Guess at the CX Promise
Employees will try to deliver experiences they believe are acceptable, but they're likely not inspiring or connected to the original special moments that made the brand a success, if they have to make it up as they go along, guessing at customer expectations.
Training is vital, but often overlooked as growth happens quickly and sometimes painfully!
This same type of rapid growth through mergers, acquisition or even luck can lead to the same type of friction between “get it done NOW” and “teach them how to do it the right way.”
And while it’s important, according to many CMO’s as polled in Gartner’s 2018-19 Spend Survey, to track metrics like “awareness,” it’s also vital to actually deliver on the experience promised in all those marketing campaigns.
Growth Actually Demands More Training
Training at this critical point in the company's trajectory can be the difference between delivering OK experiences and great ones — which in the Experience Economy is the difference between keeping your customers and losing them to a competitor.
Are you ready to grow successfully by training your teams (leaders included) on customer experience?
Here are three areas where growth demands a commitment to continuous learning:
- Growth means more employees need the WHY of your brand, not just the HOW.
All your employees need to understand what you’re promising customers, and what you’ve committed to delivering for them in their experience. I call this a Customer Experience Mission, but it should include the reason customers are buying your products, not just about the products themselves. For example, for a sporting goods brand, it might be about helping customers get outside more often. It’s not about the hiking boots and fishing poles, but what they are doing once they buy those products.
Train to your mission not once, but all the time. Help each person in your organization connect their daily tasks with a bigger mission. Communicate this early AND often. Introduce mini lessons to keep your employees mindful of the experience you’re aiming to deliver. Your CX Mission should lead the way to help with better design and decisions on behalf of your customers. But you have to educate about this. It doesn’t happen by osmosis.
During growth periods, it can be easy to overlook just how vital this is, but that’s exactly when it’s necessary to be crystal clear on your customer experience!
- Growth can be bumpy, so look for your superstars and train to their solutions.
There are superstars in every organization focused on creating great experiences for customers. They create their own workarounds to bad processes, go above and beyond to take on some of the effort for customers, and have unique little ways to deliver delight.
They are usually doing this on their own, and some team members around them get the benefit of learning these techniques, but most of your employees don’t have access to them.
Create ways for peers to recognize these overachievers, and then find out what behaviors and actions are actually creating those great moments for customers. Design training to scale those individual best practices!
Training on these best practices during growth also leads to ways to find MORE ways to apply those best practices throughout your organization.
- Processes are well-intentioned, but often outgrown.
Growth in any organization is an evolution. As more customers and employees enter the mix, more processes and standards are created. While these processes might be well-intentioned and even work great for a while, growth can also highlight when they don’t scale as well as we’d like them to.
Innovation is needed throughout the organization to create better systems. But if we introduce a new process that impacts the customer experience in one area and don’t discuss it or even know what’s happening in another part of the customer journey, it can create lots of issues, both internally and for the customers we’re serving.
Training around customer experience understanding and strategies can help your leaders connect the dots throughout the customer’s whole journey. Customer journey mapping techniques and service blueprinting skills can help siloed leaders to understand what’s happening.
Your customers want you to deliver what experience you promise. Customers will defect and let others know how you’ve disappointed them if you aren’t keeping up with those demands during growth. Make efforts to educate not just about the processes, but the promises. Great customer experiences don’t happen by magic. They require thoughtful training and proactively guiding the right way to change.