To deliver a great customer experience, a solid customer strategy is indispensable. Customer economics, good journey and dialogue maps, a Net Promoter System, advocacy moments, are all building blocks without which a company is flying blind.
But when crafting this strategy, many executives implicitly assume that the employees in their organisation can’t wait to implement it.
This is a dangerous game. Sure, sometime things go smooth. But usually these same executives quickly realise that there are groups of people in the business that just don’t get it, are slow to adopt the new ways or even want to sabotage the efforts to progress.
More enlightened managers may seek the root cause for this behaviour in their own lack of preparation for rolling out the strategy. But regardless where the blame goes, the damage is done. The company loses money. Programme champions get demotivated. The strategy gets discredited. The customer loses out.
To prevent this from happening in your business, you need to focus on overcoming the three biggest hurdles to strategy implementation:
Lack of Willingness
Some people will embrace change, but the majority of people like their life and environment to remain stable. This doesn’t mean they’re not open to new directions. It just means that they won’t rush into changing their ways without a good explanation. This explanation, they need to be able to:
Only when all four angles are covered, your people may be willing to take your shiny new strategy for a spin.
Lack of Skill
Willingness alone is not enough. People also need the skills to do what you ask of them. They may want to have an empathic conversation with that unhappy client, but may not know the questions to ask. They may want to do a root cause analysis, but they may lack the techniques to investigate.
Willingness without skill only leads to foolishness, stress and a waste of company resources. Every new strategy should therefore be accompanied by a development programme. This needs to provide each employee with the know-how needed to fullfil their specific tasks in the organisational puzzle AND display the behaviours that go with it. It also should pro-actively and humanely cater for those employees of which it’s clear they will not be able to make the switch.
There is no point in needlessly creating human dramas in which everyone loses.
In doing the above, it is important to not just focus on the “front line”. Especially when implementing customer strategies, everyone in the organisation who is affected should be part of these skill development efforts. After all, in my experience front line changeonly happens if the back lines lead the way.
Which brings me to my third and final point.
Lack of Ability
Even when carefully explaining your strategy and setting up the right skill development programme, the implementation of your customer strategy may still fail. Not because people rebel or refuse to learn. But simply because your business itself may get in the way.
KPI’s may prevent doing what is right for the customer. Information systems may not provide the customer data that is required. Performance reviews may incentivise exactly the behaviour you’re trying to avoid. Or people may simply have so much on their plate that they just won’t get round to the fun, new tasks you’ve given them.
That’s why the final (or first?) part of every customer strategy implementation is to do a gap analysis of all the processes, KPI’s, reward and information systems that affect it. Without a clear plan to close those gaps (or mitigate them in some way), all the best intentions may go to waste and you remain stuck on square one.
Taking the above actions, will not guarantee that your strategy will bring you riches (after all, it needs to be the right strategy :-).
But it will make sure that your people implement what’s on those precious PowerPoint slides. And that’s more than half the battle.
About this blog
Whenever inspiration strikes, I use this space to share my thoughts on customer experience management, storytelling or what ever else crosses my mind.