On Monday this week I had the absolute pleasure of spending a couple of hours talking about the subject I like best – you guessed it – Customer Experience. I have to admit that I do not need an excuse to talk about my passion, so when my good friend and respected Customer Experience Specialist, Mark McArthur-Christie (Managing Director at Rubuss) asked me if I would spend the morning being filmed chatting about it, I could not refuse!
Our ‘chat’ will be available online very soon – watch this space. However, while we you are waiting, you may be interested to read what the conversation has inspired me to write about. Coincidentally, my current client work is also at the very top of my mind as I share with you an important observation made by Mark and I. Whilst the importance of COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION in producing great Customer Experiences may not seem like ‘new news’, I have to say that the absence of both in industries all over the world is quite frankly startling.
Many Customer Experience commentators have spoken and written about the importance of putting people at the very centre of everything you do – people being both customers AND employees. Whilst this seems so blindingly obvious, it is astonishing how few organisations still actually do it. To put PEOPLE at the heart of an organisation, a business and its leaders need to recognise the importance of (among other things), good, clear and continuous COMMUNICATION, as well as the ability to encourage, foster and reward COLLABORATION – throughout all organisational functions. Let us look at these in more detail one at a time…
It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that good communication with customers and colleagues will create an environment where all stakeholders are well informed and engaged in their experiences with an organisation. Communication not only allows everyone to understand the purpose and ambition of a company, it also leads to greater transparency and openness.
In recent weeks, I have come across a number of scenarios where this is not the case. Lack of communication can lead to the following:
- Employee disengagement and demotivation
- Misinformed customers and colleagues
- Various stakeholders making assumptions and drawing their own conclusions to certain scenarios
- Expectations failing to be met
- Unnecessary cost
- Dissatisfied customers
- Financial under performance
The key to all of these examples is that with good, honest, sincere communication, they are completely AVOIDABLE. If you keep your plans a secret from the very people who allow your business to exist (customers and colleagues), then the likely result will not be a pretty one.
Fundamentally, failing to communicate well and often with PEOPLE is also a potential sign of a lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of those very people – almost a lack of HUMANITY – something Mark and I spent a lot of time discussing.
Over the last few years, I have come to realise just how significant the art of COLLABORATION is. In my current role as an independent consultant, I collaborate with many people across the world – to benefit me, my partners and ultimately my clients. Collaboration is defined as:
“a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit.”
What a fabulous quote – and one that is still rare to see (in my opinion) in the commercial world today. What is more common to see are the following:
- business silos
- disconnected functions
- political infighting
- finger pointing
- competing objectives
- empire building
I could go on – in fact, you could argue that all of the above are one and the same – non-collaboration! As an independent arbiter on the periphery of an organisation these days, I find this so frustrating to observe. As an employee, it was mind numbing. If only people (there is that word again), spent more time working TOGETHER, than fighting against each other, the better both customer and employee experiences would be.
The truth of the matter is, that unless you are able to get EVERYONE in your organisation working together to a common purpose to a achieve a business benefit, it is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve an improvement in the Customer Experience. It is impossible to even deliver the experience that is intended. Unless everyone knows exactly what the common PURPOSE is – it is impossible for people to collaborate together to achieve it!! It is not complicated!
So if you are reading this thinking any of the following:
- I cannot remember the last time my leaders explained what is happening in the organisation
- I have no idea what direction our business is going in
- Why does function X never involve me in decision making?
- Why are my objectives different to other functions?
- No-one ever asks me what I think
- Why does no-one listen to us or our customers?
- Why do they keep blaming us?
…you may be working in an organisation that is missing two essential ingredients – ingredients that are required if your business aspires to serve up continuously improving customer experiences. The power of communication and collaboration must never be underestimated!