Four crucial steps to improving experiences.

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

Every company says they want to create better customer experiences. Yes, even the ones that have leaders who do not understand customer experience. (How you can be a leader in a company and not understand something as simple to grasp as customer experience is beyond me. But that is another story.)

Making experiences better requires change. But most customer experience professionals miss the forest for the trees. Too much of what they work on does not address the root issues. And it is only by addressing those that long-term change will happen.

What are those key issues?

  1. Lack of unity around the truth that the only reason for work is to help others do things. In other words, service. Given this, service should be your mission.
  2. Little knowledge deep inside organizations of what customers and employees must deal with to get successful outcomes.
  3. Too much competing within organizations. Most businesses are riddled with silos and people on self-glorifying missions to move up the career ladder. To make matters worse, many organizations unwittingly encourage this behavior by incenting competition. End this. Create a culture where everyone in your organization works to help each other instead of working to outdo each other.
  4. Too much emphasis on technical competence and too little on relational competence. Being able to do a job and provide what customers need is table stakes. But, doing it in a way that is easy and enjoyable for those on the receiving end is what changes the game.

So, what can be done?

  1. Align everyone in the organization, team, or work group around service as the fundamental reason for existence. Make that the rally cry to unify everyone.
  2. Create a leadership culture where managers 1) engage with customers and employees to learn about what’s good and bad and then 2) empower and encourage team members to develop and implement solutions. If you are a manager, you can be the first to step up.
  3. Encourage a team approach. Break up silos by including cross-functional roles on projects. Have all-hands daily huddles to celebrate accomplishments and communicate problems. Get cross-functional input in solving problems. Ensure everyone begins to understand the impact of decisions on others. Get more people working together for the bigger goal of helping others succeed.
  4. Continuously improve the technical effectiveness of products, processes, places, and people. But do not stop there. Ensure all those things are easy and enjoyable as well. 

Moral? Organizations need to work for customers, and their teams need to work for each other. Until then, all the experience improvement efforts in the world will be in vain.

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