Corporate Culture Looms Large On Customer Experience

Cultural change and empowering employees is paramount to achieve CX, said executives from MGM Resorts and GE Industrial Solutions, among others, who spoke at CX Talks in Atlanta.

Corporate Culture Looms Large On Customer Experience

by Steven Cook

Posted on 10-14-2017

Whether you’re strategizing about customer experience or user experience, it is important to establish an empathetic customer-centric culture to do them both right. So said Macquarium CEO Carlos Pimenta, who spoke earlier this week at CX Talks in Atlanta. 

“Customer experience and user experience are united by the common goal of customer success,” said Pimenta, who also served as co-chairman of the event (and for which was a media partner). “However, the scope of their functional responsibilities varies. UX is more focused on designing digital touch points, while CX has a broader scope in designing every interaction a customer has with a brand.”

At the event, QuestionPro CEO Vivek Bhaskaran shared results of a “CX Readiness Assessment” that attendees took prior to the event. The assessment sets benchmarks of where a company in CX stands against a database of 665 companies. (Here’s the link if you’d like to try it.)

“The results focus on the four areas needed for CX success: vision, design, culture, and learning,” explained Bhaskaran. “Activity in any specific capability area doesn’t translate into business outcomes. You need business capabilities and actions across all four areas to convert activity into outcomes.”

Among the results, he shared that most respondents scored high for vision. “This tells us that most companies are buying into the idea of CX as a competency,” he said.

They also did well on learning. “This tells us that those who have actually embarked and implemented CX programs are leveraging and closing the loop correctly,” Bhaskaran said.

On the flip side, scores for design and culture were low. “The evidence suggests that practitioners need help getting buy-in and alignment from the CEO down and across the organization to infuse a culture of customer-first into the organization,” he said.

Jon Windley, CEO of CX consultancy AltitudeCX, also addressed the importance of creating a customer-centric CX culture.

“You need to assess collaboration within your organization and capture the essence of employee feedback across the journey to … tease out the appropriate behaviors that customers desire across your organization,” he said during a presentation with Decooda COO David Johnson.

MGM Resorts International provides a solid example. After the recession, the company took a hard look at how the world had changed and what kind of brand it wanted to be, said Sterling Jackson, SVP of guest strategy and insights (photo, above).

“Creating great experiences that inspire joy and amazement don’t just happen when you show up at a hotel.We had a monumental task to set the foundation for our success,” he explained. “We had to define consistent service standards for 27 very different resorts with unique brands. We had to train 77,000 employees. And we had to get our leaders to endorse and support the CX message.”

In doing so, “We made it easy for employees to remember how they can create defining CX moments for our guests using the acronym ‘SHOW,’ which stands for smile and greet, hear their story, own the experience, and wow the guest,” Jackson added. “We learned that you need to empower employees to wow without permission and treat them like heroes when they do.”

If A 125-Year Company Can Change, So Can You

As Jackson’s talk reinforced, cultural change and empowering employees is paramount to achieving CX success. This can be difficult in large, legacy companies—but not impossible, said Will Gunn, digital product manager at GE Industrial Solutions. He spoke about how his GE team focused on CX and UX to create a B2B e-commerce tool called “GE empower.”

Said Gunn: “We couldn’t just change the way our team operates. We had to change how everyone operates. By upgrading our technology stack, designing simple UIs, and operating with a customer-focused and feedback-obsessed mindset, we’re starting to see real results. … We know that whoever’s CX is better is going to win in our categories. … This is especially true in mature industries.”

Emerging technologies and smart devices and services can be powerful tools to augment and improve your CX, for mature and newer companies alike.

“The IoT is here and is accelerating. With estimates of over 50 billion smart devices by 2020, there will be an explosion in touch points that CX professionals will have to create, manage, and optimize,” said Will Payman, Macquarium’s VP of strategy. “This will require new thinking about the components of an experience, a potential shift from products to services, and new ways of measuring the experience. It is going to take CX to the next level, and it will become more complex to integrate.”

This is not as futuristic as it sounds, he added. “IoT should be looked at as a way to drive innovation and competitive advantage,” Payman said. “How can it be applied to your business model and products? What new services can be enabled? IoT ingredients are in place now, from low-cost sensors, ubiquitous and reliable data communications, and cloud-based data and analytics platforms that can cope with enormous scale.”

Perhaps a drop more futuristic? The evolution to “human experience.”

“Great CX will become table stakes in a few years,” said Rob Sherrell, VP and global CX lead at New York-based consulting firm North Highland. “But a few trailblazing organizations are beginning to define the next competitive differentiator, which will be an organization’s ability to connect to, and meet, higher-level human needs.”

That means moving away from purely commercial intent to human commitment, he explained.

“This will be competition based on corporate humanity,” Sherrell said. “Delivering a ‘human experience’ … will require organizations to be purposeful, cognitive, adaptive, and conscious, in addition to delivering great CX that is easy, relevant, and orchestrated.”

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