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Change Management for Adopting Customer-centricity (Part 2)

Bibi Sofowote, CCXP

Last week, we looked at the concept of customer-centricity, and why it is so important and beneficial for an organization to prioritize it. Having been assured by my family and closest friends that none of them fell asleep halfway through, I’ve decided to stay on that path and take this thing over the finish line, you know… Really go for it. So, here’s Change Management for Adopting Customer-centricity, Part 2.

Let’s talk about it.

You’ve made up your mind that customer-centricity is the way to go. Perhaps you read, heard or watched something from a certain weekly series. Good on you! But how do you shepherd your organization through this change without breaking everything? That’s what we’re talking about today.

First, establish the need for change. Your people already have enough going on without also having to worry about whether this sudden fixation on customer-centricity isn’t just the latest (or first) in a series of whimsical changes demanded by the boss. You must be able to show how the company is currently underperforming by highlighting in tangible terms, the costs of missed, misunderstood and unmet customer needs and expectations.

Next, you need to articulate a vision of what the company looks like when it is performing at its highest levels by adopting a customer-centric approach. Doing this provides the necessary inspiration to do more and be more, and the required contrast to the current situation, for anyone who doubts that the company could aspire to greater heights.

For your organization to be truly customer-centric, it is essential that all departments and teams align with this vision. A key function of change management is that the organization's vision, mission, and objectives are clearly communicated and understood at all levels.

Now it’s time to identify your stakeholders, as discussed in a previous edition of this series, and work to overcome resistance there. Humans are naturally resistant to change, especially when it disrupts their established ways of doing things. Show each of your stakeholder groups what’s in it for them, and then recruit the leaders from these groups to be part of a CX Governing Committee that has the ongoing responsibility of designing, modeling and improving Customer Experience across the organization, and driving the much-needed culture shift. I’ll remind you here of something I mentioned a few posts ago: the only way to really drive CX focus organizationally is to make sure that every implicated team and individual cares about it.

New skills will have to be developed. Perhaps new tools will need to be onboarded. Do you have a plan for this? Make sure that as part of your change management strategy, there is a thorough assessment of skill and tool gaps, along with a well-thought-out roadmap for up-skilling your people and transitioning or improving your tools.

Ensure consistency and measure progress and impact. As your company grows and evolves, it is easy for different teams to begin to drift away from that core customer-centric vision. Make sure then, that you are constantly reinforcing the behaviors and outcomes that you wish to drive, and set KPIs that clearly measure the progress and impact of each team on the company’s shift toward customer-centricity. It is important to understand who and what’s working, and where further adjustments are required.

Risk mitigation - That’s another important thing to stay focused on. Understand that any change initiative comes with its own risks. You need to keep your eye on the ball at all times and masterfully manage this, so that you don’t unwittingly break the company you’re trying to improve.

And finally, celebrate successes. It is crucial to celebrate successes along the way to help keep employees motivated and engaged in the change process. Help them see how even the smallest improvements positively impact the customer and work to develop an internal framework that rewards them appropriately for this. You’ll be surprised how many great ideas can come from all across the organization in furtherance of customer-centricity, when your people know that this is actively encouraged.

Look, this is by no means an exhaustive guide, but I’m pretty hopeful that it can at the very least, serve as a launchpad for your journey into making customer-centricity a guiding focus for your organization. If you understand that you can’t have a business without your customers, you already get why putting them at the heart of everything you do cannot be ignored.

Thanks for reading this article. How will you use this information to make your customer experience better today? What have you observed in your environment Reach out. Connect. I’ll be reading and responding. And learning.

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