Transformations are everywhere lately. We’re talking about and hearing about digital transformation, business transformation, transformation acceleration and cultural transformation in just about every other business article or conversation.
Cultural transformation is essentially aligning your people, processes and business tactics with a new “north star” for your organization. I would argue everyone should be putting customer experience at the center of their cultural transformation today. And while it’s easy to talk about transformation of this sort, it’s a lot harder to execute.
Here are a few ideas for moving your organization from a product-first business to a customer-first company.
1. Create a compelling mission.
If you belong to an older, more traditional organization, your mission statement probably includes words like “best” or “best-in-class.” While these are nice ideas, they don’t’ translate well to defining the experience you want to deliver for your customers. A customer-focused mission includes your aspirations for your customer experience.
A great example is Southwest Airlines, especially compared to other airlines. Most airline missions discuss shareholder and profitability, plus they aren’t prominent in their communications. Southwest has their mission everywhere – on posters, in the in-flight magazine, and throughout other customer communications.
“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
Your mission should clearly state the promise you’re making, the way you want to deliver it, and what customers can realistically expect from you.
Without a customer-focused mission, cultural transformation is a lot harder.
2. Overcommunicate to make it actionable.
When I say overcommunicate, I mean OVER communicate. You will feel like you’re saying the same things again and again. That’s because you are.
Teams who know their values get work done in better, more efficient ways. Teams who know what sort of customer experience they are aiming to deliver will get closer and closer to that target every day. They will make better decisions, suggest more improvements, and in short, make your customers happier.
It’s not uncommon to talk about these ideas during new employee onboarding training and then to basically never revisit them again. Keeping your mission and your cultural goals top of mind means using them as more than slogans. They must result in action…leading to the next idea.
3. Change is hard. Acknowledge that!
Traditional, product-focused organizations must shift in ways that are uncomfortable and foreign to long-time employees. Moving from product-focused time cycles and measures of success to customer-focused feedback cycles and measures of success can be a whole new way to approach work. It’s vital to recognize that hardship early on in your transformation, and then find ways to support your employees through those changes.
Recognize when the old ways are winning out because of a fear of change or simply old habits. Reward those who are moving forward with the new vision and creating customer-centric ways to doing things.
Cultural transformation is like any other big transformation – it doesn’t happen in a day.
And the best way to reinforce and reassure your teams is to give them the right direction, and then set them up for success with the right tools and incentives.
Ask yourself, are you reinforcing the right messages in your training, your internal communications and your hiring practices? These are all areas primed for change that can easily be overlooked. And yet, consider how important these are for the success of transforming your culture!
Focusing on the customer means starting with your own culture. And starting on your culture means knowing why, how and just what you’re willing to do to transform it.