Thursday, December 27, 2018

Change Vision: Getting Employees on Board with Your Transformation Journey

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for CallidusCloud. It appeared on their blog on March 28, 2018.

Change is hard. But it’s even harder when you don’t have a clear sense of the outcome – and how you’ll achieve that outcome.

Your culture transformation, your employee experience transformation, and your customer experience transformation are not cake walks. I call the whole thing a journey for a reason. It's never-ending. And it's a lot of work - a lot of really hard work. You can't change the culture and the way you do business overnight. It's just not going to happen!

And it's definitely not going to happen if your employees aren't on board! As a matter of fact, if they're suffering from change fatigue, if they can’t stand the thought of yet one more change initiative, then it's going to be really difficult to make change happen.

How do you get them on board?

You need to start with a vision for your change. A change vision is a statement or image of some desired future state, i.e., what the company will look like after you change, along with details about why this future state is desirable. It will give employees a sense of the magnitude of the change and the overall impact on the organization.

John Kotter, the master guru of change management, states that a change vision serves three purposes:
  1. It simplifies and clarifies the outcome of the change.
  2. It motivates people to make the change.
  3. It aligns individuals around the goal or outcome, giving them a shared sense of direction.
Just like your company vision or your CX vision, your change vision is inspirational, but it is realistic and drives strategy, as well as the execution of that strategy.

In his book Leading Change, Kotter says that an effective change vision has six important qualities. It is...
  1. Imaginable, conveying a picture of what the future looks like
  2. Desirable, appealing to the interests of employees, customers, shareholders, and other enterprise constituents
  3. Feasible, setting forth realistic and achievable goals
  4. Focused, providing clarity and guidance for decision making
  5. Flexible, allowing for individual initiative and alternative solutions due to changing conditions
  6. Communicable, being easy to communicate and explainable in less than five minutes
The latter point is a great one. Communicating your vision is an important piece of change management. If no one knows what it is or why it's taking place, then people start to ignore it; they certainly don't want to be a part of it. Of course, the key is to communicate the right information. Early. And often. Keep communicating.

Employees want to know:
  • What's changing?
  • Why is it changing?
  • How long will it take?
  • What's the impact on the business?
  • What does it mean for me?
  • What's my role?
  • What's in it for me?
  • What happens if I don't get involved?
  • What happens if I don't change?
  • What happens if we (company) don't change?
Kotter outlines seven key elements to effectively communicate your change vision. They include:
  1. Keep it simple: don't use jargon and language that is confusing to those who need to understand it.
  2. Use metaphors, analogies, and examples: paint a picture of what the current state is and what the future state will be. Tell stories about where you came from, where you are today, and where you're headed.
  3. Use multiple forums: there are different channels and methods to communicate the vision, including meetings, town halls, memos, email, conversations, etc.
  4. Be repetitive: it will really sink in when employees hear the vision over and over again.
  5. Lead by example: executives and leaders must be the role model for the change they expect to see; their behaviors cannot be inconsistent with the change vision.
  6. Explain seeming inconsistencies: if inconsistencies go unaddressed, they will derail the whole effort and kill the  credibility of the entire change effort.
  7. Give and take: use two-way communication; don't just talk, listen. Employees will have questions and feedback. Listen, answer, and address.
I would add that you should message with empathy and caring. Don't dictate. Don't ram it down their throats. Communicate in a way that lets people know not only that it's important but so are they and their feelings and perspectives about the change.

Of course, you can have the most amazing change vision in the world, but if you don't actually execute on it, you lose credibility, and you lose a great opportunity to improve the experience for employees and for customers. There's a Japanese proverb that states: "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." You can't really have one without the other. Set your vision. Outline the strategy to achieve it. And go do it.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. -Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Questions to Consider Before Forming a Customer Advisory Board

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for Clicktools. It appeared on their blog on March 26, 2018.

There are a lot of different ways to listen to customers and employees. 

Most companies think that surveys are the only way to go, but you can get feedback in a variety of other ways, as well. One of my favorite approaches is via a customer advisory board. (Keep in mind that you can also create an employee advisory board to get feedback from your employees.)

What is a customer advisory board? According to Wikipedia...
A Customer Advisory Council (also referred to as a Customer Advisory Board or CAB) is a form of market research whereby a group of existing customers is convened on a regular basis to advise company management on industry trends, business priorities, and strategic direction.
There are a lot of reasons to set up a CAB, but says CABs will deliver:
  • Early warnings of shifts in customer needs and emerging opportunities (Market Research)
  • New product development feedback (Innovation)
  • Reduce customer attrition and churn, especially among Customer Advisory Board members (Customer Loyalty) 
  • Advice on approaching and appealing to similar customers, including referrals (Sales)
  • Intelligence on competitor's tactics and strategies - what’s working and what’s not (Market Intelligence)
  • A Customer Advisory Board can drive significant new revenue if managed effectively!
Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to setting up and managing a customer advisory board - from listening to networking and relationship building. But those benefits can only be achieved if the CAB is properly managed. Running a customer advisory board is really a full-time job.

Here are some things to consider and questions to answer as you begin to set up your CAB. The answers to these questions can then become the basis for your CAB charter, which is an important document for the internal audience to keep everyone aligned; it is also be used to set expectations for members.

Keep in mind that a customer advisory board is all about customer listening. What you do with what you hear may drive different outcomes (including customer retention and new business), but ultimately, you are creating the CAB to listen, hear, and share information. What's the purpose of your CAB? Is it purely about understanding customer expectations and the customer experience, or is it also strategic, centering on market trends, industry trends, regulatory climate, etc.? Or is it about identifying new products or solutions? Clearly spell out the objectives and desired outcomes for your CAB.

Who will your CAB members be, i.e., executives, daily contacts, end users, etc.? What segment (product, geographic, size, etc.) of your customers will this CAB include/cover? (Note that CABs are not meant to be comprised of only your happiest customers.)

It's really important to note, as I mentioned earlier, that managing a CAB can be/is a full-time job. Who's going to manage the CAB? Who's your executive sponsor? Who will facilitate the meetings? Will you have a graphic recorder and/or a videographer?

Your CAB members will be invited to participate for a specific period of time, often two years. How long will membership last? And who can sit in for a member if he/she can't attend a meeting? How will you replace a member if she needs to drop out? What happens at the end of those two years, e.g., a member may be asked to remain on the CAB or will be replaced? How many members will you have? Typically, in my experience, 15-20 members is about the right size, keeping in mind that not everyone will make every meeting.

Meeting Frequency
How often will you hold in-person CAB meetings? What will you do in the interim? Will you have a virtual/web meeting between in-person meetings? At what cadence or frequency? And how long will the meetings last?

Meeting Location(s)
Where will the meetings be held? Will they always be in the same place, or will they move from city to city?

Membership Roles & Expectations
How many meetings can a member miss without being removed from the CAB? Will CAB members' names be listed anywhere publicly? What does "participation" mean for members? What is a member's role in the CAB meetings? Who pays travel expenses to/from the CAB meeting?

Member Benefits
How will you explain the benefits of CAB participation to your members? What value will they get as a result of being a member?

The topic areas listed above can be a part of the charter document that is shared with members. There are some internal-facing topics that your customers don't need to be privy to, including the following.

Rules of Engagement
Who owns the CAB? How will they manage it? What are expectations in terms of agenda setting before the meeting and closing the loop with members after the meeting? Who will drive the agenda for each meeting? How will members be involved in defining the agenda? Who will prepare objectives, content, and materials for each meeting? Who will receive a report of the meeting afterward? Who will participate in the meeting, not only as observers but also presenters? How frequently will the CAB manager communicate with members before, after, and between meetings?

Success Metrics - Business Outcomes
How will you measure success of the CAB for the business? What are the desired outcomes and what are the associated metrics?

Success Metrics - CAB Manager
How will you measure success of the CAB for the CAB Manager?

There are a lot of other details that are specific to recruiting, agenda development, communications, and overall CAB management. My hope is that this post gives you some high-level questions to consider as you start to consider and define for your customer advisory board.

Keep in mind that CABs are not platforms for selling anything; they are another listening post in your CX tool box. Your company attendees should not outnumber CAB member attendees. And you/your company attendees will spend 80% of your time listening and 20% of your time talking. This last point is an important one to keep in mind!

I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better. I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself. -Elon Musk

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hiring Tips for Your CX Team

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Liliana Petrova of DoingCXRight that is based on her experience hiring CX teams. This post originally appeared on her site on November 21, 2018.

Although customer experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last five years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands, and B-to-B entities.

How to Build a CX Team
Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in customer experience efforts.

The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.

Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place
The CX cycle begins and ends with customer insights (the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin. If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.

Hire a manager-level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning. You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.

Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place
Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.

This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.

Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team
Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.

If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.

Hiring When You Have All of the Above on Your CX Team
The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.

These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.

Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night, since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.

Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution, and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers, and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.

As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.

Liliana Petrova, CCXP is a visionary and a proven leader in the field of customer experience and innovation. She is an inspirational leader who pioneered a new customer-centric culture, energizing the more than 15,000 JetBlue employees with her vision. She has been recognized for her JFK Lobby redesign and facial recognition program with awards from Future Travel Experience and Popular Science. Ms. Petrova is co-founder of DoingCXRight, a resource for customer experience professionals across industries. She is committed to creating seamless, successful experiences for customers and delivering greater value for brands.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

5 #Leadership Books You Must Read in 2019

Image courtesy of Pixabay
What's in your library?

I still love to hold and read physical books (as opposed to audible, Kindle, etc.). I don't know how many books I added to my library this year, but it was a lot. I thought I'd share some good ones that I'd recommend you add to your reading list for 2019.

These books are not customer experience books per se - but the outcomes of implementing what you learn in them will certainly lead to better experiences for employees and for customers. Let's dive in.

I read the first two books on cross-country travel last week, with time to spare for chatting with my seatmates. (In other words, quick reads but packed full of good stuff.)

The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni
Similar to Patrick Lencioni's other books, this one is also a fable. In this book, Patrick writes about the three root causes of job misery, which can be summed up as immeasurement, irrelevance, and anonymity. In a nutshell, measure what matters, understand who your work impacts and how you impact them, and take a real interest in co-workers. The story takes you through several examples of how one CEO, who loves to lead and to manage, uncovered these three root causes and how he put them into practice at a couple different companies in different industries.

A Journey Into the Heroic Environment by Rob Lebow
I read the original edition of this book, which was written in 1997. I believe the latest edition was updated in 2004. Here's a great quote from Rob Lebow: Imagine a place where everyone puts the interests of others before their own. Where everyone tells the truth and where trust and mentoring abound. That place is called a Heroic Environment®. This book is also written as an engaging fable that leaves you not wanting to put the book down until you understand the difference between Business Values and People Values, learn what a Heroic Environment is, read about the four corporate personality traits, and more. Rob created a Shared Values Process/Operating System, which is a training and culture change tool. This book outlines the foundation for his "people operating system."

Crave: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday by Gregg Lederman
This is Gregg Lederman's third book. In 2012, I wrote about his first book, Brand Integrity, and in 2013, I wrote about his second, Engaged!. His latest book, Crave, delves into the three things that humans crave at work that, when attained, make them happier and more productive: respect, purpose, and relationships. Interestingly enough, this book is based on 80 years worth of research Gregg dug up that overwhelmingly supports these three motivators. Gregg writes about how you can motivate employees in "10 minutes by FridayTM" and provides clear guidelines, plus supplemental worksheets, on how to develop this weekly habit.

Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman
If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you know that I first started writing about Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, and his leadership approach, i.e., Truly Human Leadership, back in 2012, and have written about him several times since. This book chronicles Bob's history with Barry-Wehmiller and, more importantly, his own epiphany about leadership, i.e., that leaders have an awesome responsibility over their employees and must treat people like people. In his own words: Everybody Matters is about what happens when ordinary people throw away long-accepted management practices and start operating from their deepest sense of right, with a sense of profound responsibility for the lives entrusted to them. In a truly human organization, the worth of every individual is validated; people are allowed to be who they were meant to be; and there's a common purpose that creates value. As a result, employees go home to their families every night feeling good about themselves and have a more meaningful life.

The Transformational Power of Executive Team Alignment by Miles Kierson
There are a lot of factors that contribute to a leadership team's success, but none as important as team alignment. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: Calling most executive groups teams would be a stretch of imagination since by definition a team is a group of people who are working on some common end together. Ouch. As you probably already know, executive team alignment is critical to the success of any transformation or strategic implementation. Miles defines alignment as a relationship to decisions whereby you own them completely. It is also a commitment to have a decision work. And it's a choice. Each individual on the executive team must choose to be aligned. It's a fascinating read, and you'll learn how to become an aligned team and how to sustain that alignment.

Share some of your must-reads for 2019 in the comments below.

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. -Mortimer J. Adler

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Putting the Customer into Customer Experience

Image courtesy of Shep Hyken/ABR
Let's put the "customer" into customer experience.

What does that mean?

If you’re a customer of any business on this planet, no surprise here, you know this: most companies are not really focusing on the customer and the customer experience. They might be giving it lip service, but that’s not the same as actually doing the work, understanding the customer, and designing a great customer experience as a result.

What is customer understanding? And how can you achieve it?

Customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity.

What is customer-centricity? Exactly what the word says: ensuring that the customer is at the center of a business's philosophy, operations, decisions, or ideas.

This is the main topic that Shep Hyken and I discussed recently on my second time on his Amazing Business Radio podcast. I was thrilled to be back on the show to talk about something that is top of mind for me every day: putting the "customer" into customer experience.

In order to ensure businesses are putting the "customer" into customer experience, they must first understand customers' needs, expectations, the jobs they're trying to do, and their desired outcomes. And then use that information to design a better experience. You can't fake it. You just can't

In recent research conducted by Capgemini, they discovered that 75% of companies believe they are customer-centric, while only 30% of consumers agreed. Yikes.

I've written several times that there are really three ways to achieve that understanding: listen, characterize, and empathize. Shep and I talked about these three approaches in our conversation, and as we talked about journey mapping and walking in customers' shoes, we also got to expose Shep's humorous side, as he cited the Jack Handey quote: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes. LOL.

I'd be honored if you'd take 30 minutes to listen to our conversation. I promise it won't feel like 30 minutes! The conversation is fast-moving and fun, yet packed with a ton of information that you need to consider in order to put the customer into the customer experience.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. - John Keats