According to TechTarget, “Customer experience management is the collection of processes a company uses to track, oversee, and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle.”
Gartner defines it as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”
It’s important to note that customer experience management is really a change management process in and of itself. And, ultimately, the transformation is a journey until it becomes the new way of doing business.
Communication is a critical tool to secure employee buy-in and adoption, and, especially, to educate employees about the ongoing changes that lie ahead. To successfully transform your culture and the way you do business and to deliver experiences that create lifelong employees and customers, you have to invest the time, money, and effort to create and implement a compelling communication strategy that speaks to your audience(s).
There are several different types of content that you’ll want to incorporate into your communication plan, each of which will be framed accordingly, depending on the audience.
- Explanatory: explain the CX strategy and what the journey ahead looks like.
- Informational: tell employee and customer stories and share progress updates, wins, successes, and more.
- Closed loop: let employees and customers know what has been done with their feedback, and share customer feedback with employees.
- Coaching: share customer feedback about/for specific employees in order to improve performance going forward.
- Training: educate employees about improvements made as a result of feedback received from customers.
- Rewards and recognition: reward employees for delighting customers, model the behavior you expect, celebrate successes, reinforce the change vision, etc.
Keep the information simple, relevant, consistent, and motivational. And link it back to the company’s core values as much as possible.
Start by communicating your CX vision. If you don’t communicate your change vision and your desired outcomes, if no one knows what it is or why it’s taking place, then employees ignore it; they certainly don’t want to be a part of it. Of course, the key is to communicate the right information. Tell the change story. Early. And often. Let them know what is changing, why it’s changing, how it will impact them and what they need to do (differently) on a daily basis, and how they will be involved.
To that point, develop your own FAQ document. To get you started, here are some things employees want to know; however, don’t let these replace you taking a walk around the office to ask them what questions they have.
- What is it?
- Why are we doing this?
- What does it entail?
- What’s the endgame/desired outcome?
- What’s changing?
- Why is it changing?
- How long will it take?
- What’s the impact on the business?
- What does it mean for me? What’s in it for me?
- What’s my role?
- How do I have to change?
- What do I need to do differently?
- Will I be taught a different way of doing things?
- Does this add work to my current role/day job?
- How can I get involved?
- What happens if I don’t get involved?
- What happens if I don’t change?
- What happens if we (company) don’t change?
- What has already been done?
- How will we know the change is successful?
- How will I be measured differently?
- How will you know if I’ve made the changes that are expected of me?
- Where can I find out more?
- How will you keep us posted on the progress?
Keep the document updated as employees ask more questions.
As you can see, there is a lot of information to provide, but there are also a lot of different ways that you’ll want to communicate with your employees. Don’t just use one format or one channel. Use video, email, print/posters, website/intranet, corporate app, town halls, etc. Figure out what works best for your organization, for your employees. Leverage and tie in to the way your company and your culture work. Piggyback onto existing employee communications, determine a cadence that works best for your company, and find new ideas to help your message stand out.
Regarding timing and cadence of messaging, again, make sure it makes sense for your company – just don’t go dark. When employees don’t see change happening or hear about the progress that’s being made, they start to question if it’s real or if it’s just another flavor-of-the-month change initiative. And if that’s the case, they then lose interest.
A few other things to keep in mind as you prepare your communication strategy:
- Target each message to the audience (e.g., employees at large, governance structure committees, managers, executives, board members, etc.)
- Be sure to focus more on the people – employees and customers – in the messaging than on ratings and metrics.
- Deliver the message with empathy and caring. Don’t be a dictator. Don’t ram it down people’s throats. Communicate in a way that lets people know that it’s important and that so are they and their feelings and perspectives about the change.
- Track and measure the effectiveness of the messages. Continue using the most-engaging messaging and channels, and rethink the others.
- Create branding (e.g., logo, character, tagline, etc.) so that employees can make the connection when they see the messaging; it also gives them a rallying point and makes it feel like a “real” journey versus the flavor of the month.
- CX professionals should work with the marketing team to create the communication plan and to develop and deliver consistent messaging.
- Communications should come from the CX team or from executives (e.g., CEO, CCO, business unit leads, etc.), depending on the content and the occasion/purpose.
- Team leaders should incorporate CX into their regular staff meetings and talk about how employees impact the experience, while executives should talk about employees and customers (and their experiences) when they share company updates and during other regular messaging.
Communicate regularly about CX transformation efforts. Don’t force change on employees – keep them informed and involved, and you’ll see acceptance and buy-in of the journey stronger than you could’ve imagined.
Powerful and sustained change requires constant communication, not only throughout the rollout but after the major elements of the plan are in place. The more kinds of communication employed, the more effective they are. –DeAnne Aguirre
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, keynote speaker, and author. She recently published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.