How do you ensure that your employees have a clear line of sight to customers?
First, what does “line of sight” mean? In a nutshell, it’s that straight line between you and the target. In this case, the target for your business is the customer. When employees have a clear line of sight to the target, they…
- know how they impact the customer experience,
- know what it means to deliver a great customer experience, and
- they have the tools and training – and are empowered – to do so.
That target seems obvious and straightforward to frontline employees, but the customer experience isn’t just created at the frontline. How do you ensure that everyone, including your back-office employees, has their sights set on the right target? How can you ensure that everyone knows that the customer is the business’s reason for being?
Consider this quote:
Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance. -Brian Tracy
Think of your employees as that car: they will work more efficiently and more effectively if their goals, values, and purpose are aligned with those of the business. In order for that to happen, they’ve got to have the right foundation and the right information.
The foundation, of course, is the culture. It’s got to be the right culture, one that is deliberately designed to put the customer at the heart of the business. Yes, a customer-centric culture. One where no discussions, decisions, or designs happen without bringing in the customer voice, without asking, “How will this impact the customer? How will it make her feel? What problem does it solve? What value does it create?”
As for the right information, the following tools are a good place to start. When employees have this information, they’ll have a better understanding of why the company in business. And when people acknowledge that the purpose of the business is to create and to nurture a customer, it makes it a lot easier to work with that goal in mind, with the Who in mind.
1. Vision: An inspirational and aspirational statement, your vision not only outlines what the company is trying to achieve near-term and long-term but also guides decision-making processes and your subsequent, resultant course of action. Presumably, your vision will (a) draw the line between what you’re doing and for whom you’re doing it and (b) create alignment within the organization.
2. Values: Your core values are beliefs that guide you in identifying which behaviors and actions are right and which are wrong for your employees as they interact with each other and with your customers. Everything they do must be aligned with your values, and they should be integrated into everything you do. When in doubt, ask: “Is this the right thing to do? Does it fit with our values?” Decisions are made and policies and processes are designed through the lens of those values – values that support and create a customer-centric organization.
3. Brand Promise: A brand promise is the expectations you set with your customers. It’s a combination of the brand purpose and the reality of what the brand can deliver. It defines the benefits a customer can expect to receive when experiencing your brand – at every touch point. It’s meant for both customer and employees, as employees at all levels, frontline and behind the scenes, must deliver on the promise.
4. Voice of Customer: Listening to customers and ensuring that their feedback is shared (and acted upon) throughout the organization helps connect the dots for employees – they hear how what they do relates to, and translates into, what the customer experiences. Use the feedback to coach for improvements and to celebrate the things employees should keep doing.
5. Journey Mapping Process: The journey mapping process is the ultimate tool to help connect all employees to how they contribute to – and impact – the customer experience. The map is the backbone of the customer experience, and while it details what the customer experiences as she’s trying to complete a task with the company, it’s important to also create a service blueprint that outlines the people, tools, systems, and processes that support and facilitate the experience the customer is having.
6. Personas: Do the work to develop your customer personas, which are groupings of customers with similar needs, pain points, problems to solve, and jobs to be done. They make it clear for whom you are building products and delivering services. Socialize the personas to ensure that employees have a solid understanding of who your customers are. Use empathy maps, too, to help employees get into the heads and hearts of these personas/customers.
7. Job Descriptions: When you job descriptions don’t just describe the work that the employee is going to do but also how that work impacts the customer, that clarifies the line of sight. For job candidates, they come into it knowing (a) that the company thinks customer and (b) how they will be contributing not only to business outcomes but, first and foremost, to customer outcomes. Including customer-driven KPIs in the job description and linking bonuses or other variable compensation to customer outcomes and the customer experience further hits home the point that the business puts the customer front and center.
8. Communication: Communication is perhaps the umbrella tool over all the others. It’s important on its own, but it must also be used in conjunction with the other tools. What gets shared and communicated is viewed as important to your employees. Talk about customers. Bring the customer voice into all you do. Talk about how your/their decisions impact your customers. Talk about how every employee’s actions and behaviors impact the business, customer, and other employees. Communication creates clarity, which is critical to a clear line of sight.
When employees know the target and know how their work contributes, impacts, and matters to not only the target but also the end game, i.e., outcomes, they…
- Feel a sense of pride
- Display a sense ownership
- Are more productive
- Are less likely to leave
- Recommend the company, which attracts talent and customers
- Defend the company and its reputation
- Make suggestions to improve the business
And that’s a win-win-win – for employees, for customers, for the business. How many of these tools do you use in your organization?
You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see. ~Robin Sharma