Culture — the Pivotal “C” in “CX”

Last week, a remarkable thing happened around here.

A twenty minute budget check -in with my friendly finance lead turned into a two hour thoughtful discussion on CX enablement, led by — finance. He wanted to understand more about the customer experience agenda. Wanted to see and touch the tools we use to help us better serve our students. His rationale? He genuinely cares about students and our mission. What’s more, the better he understands the CX practice and our efforts, he said, the more he can serve as an evangelist and advocate for demonstrating the impact of our investments. Then, thanks in part to his innate curiosity and business knowledge, he went on to recommend a list of people I should connect with based on where he saw synergy from a strategy, tools, and capability perspective.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the mark of true customer-centricity. A culture where employees demonstrate curiosity, empathy, and shared values through their interactions with customers and employees alike.

A customer-centric culture doesn’t happen by chance. It comes from a deliberate and relentless focus on employee development and the creation of shared values and principles. It’s a symbiotic relationship that requires both the understanding, will, and buy-in of employees, and the reciprocal responsibility of the organization to improve CX and cultural enablement by removing both real and perceived barriers to employee empowerment and behavior change.

Part of this starts with a strong organizational mission and CX vision. To align, employees must first know what their company’s intended experience vision is. They need to understand, feel, and observe customer-centric behaviors that apply to their roles and support the broader intended experience vision. They need to see leaders lead with these transformative behaviors. Finally, they need to be genuinely recognized and celebrated for demonstrating both organizational leadership and customer-centric behaviors.

From an enablement perspective, organizations and CX transformation leaders need to dedicate themselves to employee listening and improvement. Just as we create ideal state journey maps for customers, leaders should work with individuals to create employee journey maps, recording role-specific current and ideal state employee actions, behaviors, and metrics around the key customer moments, then identifying the barriers to those desired actions (time management, process, goals, system limitations, resources, lack of training, lack of opportunity and experimentation).

Stephen Covey put it best when he said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your customers.” If our students experience anything like what I experienced with our finance team, our customer and cultural transformation will truly be a great one.

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