Companies with customer-obsessed cultures--think USAA or Southwest Airlines--differentiate themselves in their industries and earn major financial benefits as a result. But customer-obsessed cultures don't just happen: To help transform a culture, customer experience professionals must develop training and coaching curriculum that touches all employees.
In my latest Forrester report, The Customer Experience Curriculum, I write about how companies must identify the key constituencies in the organization, determine how they can best contribute to delivering the intended experience, and then design training and coaching that reinforce those contributions. CX professionals, in partnership with their learning and development colleagues, should adhere to these five steps:
- Create training for CX professionals that provides breadth plus selective depth. To drive customer experience initiatives across the organization, all CX team members need a working knowledge of customer experience concepts plus core skills like customer journey mapping. Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) worked with an external partner to train its client experience team in customer journey mapping and customer ecosystem mapping. Team members now apply these skills to diagnose CX problems and improve common customer journeys. They even train other parts of the organization, like claims and customer service, to map customer journeys.
- Prepare executives to lead customer experience transformations. Every successful customer experience transformation we've studied had the active support of the company's senior leaders. Executives don't need to become customer experience experts, but they do need to understand it well enough to lead effective transformations. That's why BMO developed a one-day course for its leaders on the fundamentals of customer experience. The training shows how client experience drives business results for the organization. It also helps leaders incorporate their own examples and stories into how they talk about client experience. BMO believes this personal touch makes executive communication more compelling.
- Coach managers to pave the way and to reinforce new behaviors. Managers must lead the way for their direct reports. They need to learn new behaviors for themselves and provide ongoing reinforcement of critical customer-obsessed behaviors among rank-and-file employees. When the patient experience team at Cleveland Clinic first proposed using learning maps to train all 43,000 employees in patient experience principles, CEO Toby Cosgrove was concerned about sustaining the new behaviors. To address his concern, the patient experience team created two new training components designed specifically for managers. The first, called "leading the way," lays out the goals of the Cleveland Clinic experience learning map exercise, sets managers' expectations, and seeks their help in transforming the organization. The second session, called "coaching for outstanding performance," is a full-day course given to managers after their teams complete patient experience training. The course reiterates the goals, discusses engagement strategies, and provides managers with ways to sustain the change.
- Train customer experience champions to provide guidance and set an example. Customer experience champions help transform and sustain organizational culture. CX teams should train champions on how to model customer-obsessed behavior in their parts of the organization and how to apply basic customer experience skills to diagnose and fix experience flaws. Caterpillar delivered a one-week course that taught its champions how to blueprint the customer experience and how to build a customer experience strategy. The champions work within their parts of the business to apply their new skills and identify parts of the experience that need to be fixed.
- Roll out training on customer experience fundamentals to rank-and-file employees. General CX training should explain what customer experience is and why it's important to the organization as well as the company's intended experience vision. The program should also preview relevant organizational changes so that employees know what to expect. Due to historically significant organizational changes, HP created a curriculum called "The HP Story" to train on Forrester's six customer experience disciplines, the NPS system, and HP solutions that address industry-specific customer needs and market trends. To date, HP has trained more than 250,000 employees and channel partners. The training it provided also explained how customer experience connected to its organizational values and leadership attributes and described the expected behaviors that employees should exhibit in customer interactions.
For more details on how to use training and education to reinforce customer focus among all employees and improve experience delivery, head on over to Forrester to read the full report.
This is my last blog post for 1to1 Media in 2014. Happy holidays and happy New Year to everyone. Best of luck with your customer experience initiatives in 2015!
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About the Author: Sam Stern is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research serving Customer Experience professionals, serving Customer Experience professionals. Learn more about Forrester's customer experience practice at forrester.com/customerexperience.