We believe that there’s a formula for great Customer Experience, or CX. There are three key ingredients. Like any deceptively simple recipe, it’s highly dependent on the “cook.” Like whipped cream, it may have just a couple of ingredients, but it’s still possible to get it completely wrong. The three ingredients we’ll be cooking with are
Here are the basic definitions, so you’ll know where we’re going:
Roots are your Core Values. This is what feeds and nourishes your Customer Experience. Without core values that are aligned with creating customer delight, you’ll never achieve that World Class level–the place where your customers are passionately spreading the word about the experience they had with you and looking for any excuse to come visit you and spend their money.
Structure is what you build atop those roots. Structure is everything from the physical structure of your business to its systems and processes. It’s what gives your CX form, and consistency. Core Values provide the nourishment, but Structure is what grows from the Roots.
Art is the creative, above-and-beyond magic of your CX; it’s how you elevate your CX to the World Class level. This is where it blossoms.
So let’s start at the bottom, deep in the “soil” under your organization: ROOTS. Core Values are a business cliché, right? Companies post Core Values, but don’t live them. If you really value a Value, it’s part of your conversation every day. It’s not a slogan or a bullet point in an employee manual. When someone screws up, you talk about the screw-up in terms of how it offends or contradicts a core value. When someone does something amazing, you praise the act in terms of how it supports and expresses a core value. When you do performance appraisals–well, you get the idea. So what are some of the values that support brilliant CX?
- Respect for others: I would say “duh” but that would be disrespectful.
- Self respect: No one with low self esteem gives great customer service
- Empathy: The ability to put yourself in the customer’s shoes is crucial to a great CX
- Desire to create delight and make others happy
- Desire to do a good job for the sake of doing a good job
- Curiosity: Key to problem-solving and digging up the “root cause” of quality issues. Passive people don’t give world class service.
- Relentlessness: The drive to keep going until you get it right. This is not just patience, it’s doggedness.
- Honesty: You’re going to make mistakes: a great CX is not just about what happens when things go right.
You can probably think of a couple more values that are specific to your company or your industry. We see the value of transparency showing up a lot these days for tech businesses. Who are Core Values For? Core Values are not about telling your employees how to behave. They are something that everyone in the company has to live by. Even the people running it. This is easier said than done. A lot of folks who run companies have a social style that’s a little different than the folks on their front lines. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. and Ms. Type A. This is a source of one of the biggest disconnects in creating world class Customer Experiences. Let’s just call it by its handy nickname: Hypocrisy. You want your employees to bend over backward to delight a customer? You have to bend over backward first. For your employees. It’s not easy to embody World Class Customer Experience on Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. when your coffee is starting to wear off and someone on your team hits you with yet another Issue from operations. But that is precisely what you must do. Because each employee you interact with, regardless of their role or their rank, is a “Carrier” of your CX. Right down to your accounting team (scary, I know.) No one gets a pass when it comes to living and expressing core values.
I once pushed an accountant too far, requiring that she try to get along with her co-workers. I tried to mediate a session to help her with her appalling communications skills. She quit the next day and dropped off her keys at the front desk without saying bye-bye. It was a terrible disruption to our company, but I couldn’t make an exception for even a hard-to-replace person. Just because you have an important job doesn’t mean you are excused from living the company’s core values. In fact, the more important your job, the more visibly you need to embody the core values of the company. That’s why the only way to identify and define your core values is to do it with your team.
Tony Hsieh of Zappos is famous for this; he engaged his entire company in an exercise to identify and distill its core values down to a manageable…ten. I know, it’s a lot. I’m a fan of having three core values, because it really helps if people can remember them. Identifying core values is not about “making up” values that you aspire to. Your Core Values are already in effect. They are part of your brand DNA. If you have not yet started your company, your personal core values will be the jumping off point. A Core Values Discovery process is about unearthing them and naming them in a way that creates clarity for everyone. And don’t worry that your values have to be single words, as has long been the fashion. I think that sometimes leaves a little too much open to interpretation. Of course, a value like Honesty doesn’t need much word-smithing. Here are the three core values of the customer-centric company that I led for thirty years:
1. WOW our customers 100% of the time
2. Build and protect a fun and harmonious work environment
3. Achieve our goals and keep our commitments
I could engage someone in a semantic debate as to whether these are values or directives. But this format worked well for us because –well, it told us how to act.
Motivating Your Team with Core Values. When our clients lament the lack of “motivation” on their team, they’re often talking about the feeling they have that their team members don’t “get” what’s important. Articulating your Core Values is the first step in “motivating” people to create a better Customer Experiences. The best way to motivate your team is to hire people who share your workplace Core Values. They come pre-motivated. Core Values can’t be implanted, but they can be sought out, brought out and given a chance to shine.
Wynne Business facilitates powerful Core Values Discovery Sessions with teams of every size and companies in every life stage, from startup to turnaround. Tell us about your current values quest and we’ll tell you if we think we can help. Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org Next time: Structure and its role in World Class CX