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As we launch into a new year, it’s a great time to think about what needs to get done in the next 364 days (it’s a leap year – and you can start today!) to ensure you achieve the business outcomes you desire. In order to do that you’ve got to focus on the people first, right? Both employees and customers. After all, they’re the ones who keep the business humming along and, well, in business.

I thought I’d help kick start your planning for the next 12 months by outlining 24 things you can start doing this year to get you on the right track, to make sure you achieve the business outcomes you desire.

Of course, since the plan is to “focus on people first and the numbers will come,” I’ll share and reference the graphic above, which I originally created for my second book, Built to Win.

It’s no surprise then that the first set of things you can do in 2024 falls under the topic of culture. I’ll propose eight items for each of three topic areas (culture, employee experience, customer experience), bringing the total to 24.

Culture

Culture is the foundation of the business. Fix the culture, fix the outcomes.

You’ve got to start by assessing your culture. Is it customer-centric? Where is the customer in your company’s mindset, thought processes, decision making, etc.? (Remember, you can’t be customer-centric without putting employees more first, so don’t think I’m only talking about customers.) Has your culture been deliberately designed or are you getting the culture you allow?

Let’s look at what you need to focus on in 2024 with regards to culture. Remember: this is just a starter list. There’s more!

  1. Define core values that support and facilitate the type of culture you desire. Already have core values? When were they defined? Missing anything or need to change any of them to ensure they support a customer-centric culture.
  2. Define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors associated with each core value.
  3. Identify behaviors, rituals, and beliefs that you’re already seeing that support the culture you want to see. Embrace them and make sure they are put forth as examples of your expectations.
  4. Identify enablers and blockers of the types of behaviors that epitomize the culture you desire. How will you amplify the enablers and remove the blockers?
  5. Link the core values and behaviors to desired outcomes for the business.
  6. Outline how leaders not only model and reinforce the acceptable behaviors but also how they empower employees to live the desired culture.
  7. Uncover how leaders hold each other accountable for creating the desired culture. Remember that leadership commitment and alignment are critical to building a culture that employees live and breathe consistently across the organization.
  8. Socialize this work and then ensure that it’s operationalized across the organization.
Employee Experience

Culture is the precursor for the employee experience. If you’ve got the foundation right, everything else will fall into place. If your culture is broken, don’t expect employees will have a great experience.

Here’s where your focus needs to be with regards to the employee experience this year.

  1. Do an employee experience audit. What’s that? Well, let’s talk. (Here’s a link to an article on a customer experience audit. Your EX audit will be similar, and yet… )
  2. Evaluate your candidate experience. It’s the first impression for many with your brand (or your employer brand, at the very least). Too many companies are doing this part of the employee experience poorly.
  3. Take a look at your onboarding experience. Onboarding is so much more than orientation and benefits information. It’s critical to success for employees.
  4. Similarly, assess your employee off-boarding process too. It’s not just an exit interview. That last impression is a lasting one. It can be just as important as the first impression.
  5. Develop employee personas. They may be role-based or otherwise, but it’s important to understand who your various employee groups are and their needs, expectations, preferences, and desired outcomes. Interview employees. Do the work. Take them time to understand them.
  6. Map the employee journey. Consider all the touch points and all the ways employees interact with their employer. Use the same rules and guidelines as you do with the customer journey mapping process.
  7. Roll out a voice of the employee program. Keep in mind that this isn’t just about surveys with an ad nauseam amount of questions. Be creative with your listening posts. Executive listening tour, anyone? Keep in mind some important guidelines, outlined here.
  8. AI isn’t going away. Employees want to know how AI will impact their jobs. Will they be replaced? When it comes to AI, remember the people. No doubt, there will be a human in the loop for quite some time yet. Clearly define your needs, what problems AI will solve for you, and your process for integrating it into your workflow. Be open with employees about it. Then talk about new skills that will be needed to work with AI, as well as up-skilling and re-skilling.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

When it comes to the customer experience, the work you’re going to need to get started on isn’t that much different from the employee experience work.

  1. Conduct a CX audit. What’s that? Well, let’s talk. (Here’s a link to an article on a customer experience audit.) It’s good to know where you stand in the work today before moving forward.
  2. Identify all of your customer experience touch points. Touch points are any way that the customer touches the brand or the brand touches the customer. Trust me. There are far more than you think!
  3. Develop customer personas. Make sure you do the work. Talk to customers. Don’t just sit around a table and talk about who you think your customers are.
  4. Map the customer journey. Think about the various ways that customers interact and transact with your brand. Map the experience following my six-step process. Don’t skip any steps.
  5. Design your voice of the customer program. Again, this is more than just surveys. Think about different listening posts and various ways to get customer feedback, both solicited and unsolicited.
  6. While this needs to be one of the interactions that gets mapped, take a look at your customer onboarding process. Is it welcoming? Does it even exist?
  7. Similarly, evaluate your customer off-boarding process. You have one, right? It’s important that you properly design this process. After all, they might come back.
  8. Revisit your customer communications. Is the message consistent across the brand? Is the customer getting the communications in a timely manner? Is it personalized and relevant?

There it is. Twenty-four things to point you in the right direction for 2024. It’s a lot. It’s not everything. But I will tell you right now that you won’t get it all done this year. So you need to get started. These are foundational elements for your business success – this year and beyond.

Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen. ~ Wayne Huizenga

ABOUT ANNETTE

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she 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. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business [Advantage|ForbesBooks], which is available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your EX and CX game.

Image Copyright CX Journey Inc./Annette Franz