Enough of the platitudes about the virtues of being customer-centric, and the feel-good mantras about listening to customers. Everyone listens to their customers, but that’s not the same thing as operating like you do. Listening and understanding are hard enough in our interrupt-driven business world, but listening, deeply understanding and doing the right things…almost every time…is nigh impossible. Yet somehow there are great companies who keep doing it, and chances are you know who they are. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself: “If I just knew what some of these great companies like Southwest Airlines or Toyota do differently, I could make a difference in my company." Well, here’s your chance, starting today, right where you sit in I&O. But first you must understand that it’s not what they do differently, but why and how they decided to do those things, because that’s their secret sauce and what you'll need to figure out for your company. Sam Stern and I offer some powerful tools to help you do that in our new report: Use Customer Experience Insights To Unshackle Employee Potential.
Customer experience is a product of employee behavior, and I&O shapes employee behavior
Mike Rother, three-time winner of the prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research, said "an organization's collection of practices and principles at any point in time is an outcome that springs from its members' routines of thinking and behavior. It is an issue of human behavior.” Companies that continue to outperform in their markets do so because their employees think and behave in ways that matter to customers. With technology playing the lead role in employees' daily work, it pays to ask: How do the decisions of I&O pros responsible for workforce technology affect employees' routines of thinking and behavior? And what does it mean for your company's ability to win, serve, and retain customers? If you don't have clear answers, you're in good company, but until you do things aren’t going to get better.
Conventional IT governance models aren’t working to improve customer experience
Fifty-three percent of enterprises with more than 10,000 employees use the ITIL framework to guide their governance efforts in tech management. And 43% of security pros of firms with 20 or more employees say their firms are using the COBIT 4.1 framework, or will be within the next year. These frameworks help the business, but they don't adequately address customer experience because that's not their purpose — compliance is. Yet the No. 1 business priority in 2015 is to improve customer experience, so you face a paralyzing dilemma as an I&O pro: Business leaders expect you to prioritize customer experience, but it's incalculably harder because you're forced to use suffocating operational frameworks intended for compliance. It dominates your agenda, limiting your capacity to think ahead about employee and customer needs. Customer experience insights give you the power to tip the scales back in favor of customer obsession.
Instead, you have to connect the work I&O people do with what it means for customer experience
Improvement starts with learning to see what’s actually getting in the way of people's progress so you can change it and help others get beyond them, too. When you can better understand how your work affects your colleagues' ability to deliver superior customer experiences, you can make stonger business cases and set better priorities. You can make better tradeoffs between compliance and customer experience in daily operations and expand the scope of continuous improvement from tech management processes to organizational capabilities. In other words, what you focus on gets bigger and customer outcomes are the right place to focus.
Connecting I&O with customer experience must become an ongoing habit
Continuous improvement is the ability to move toward a new desired state through unclear and unpredictable territory by being sensitive to and responding to actual conditions. There is no "finish line" mentality. The objective is not to win, but to develop the capabilities to keep improving, adapting, and satisfying dynamic customer requirements. When you understand how the organization functions and adapts as a system to serve customers, you can better integrate continuous improvement efforts into the daily work of all employees. When you can do that, service levels and satisfaction keep going up, and costs keep going down.
Your customer-obsessed habits are like the moves karate warriors use to win in battle
Forrester has identified seven kata that you can use to drive continuous improvement in workforce enablement. The word kata comes from Japanese martial arts and in business refers to habits or patterns of behavior that one practices to reach various levels of mastery. Mastering a collection of business kata strengthens the business and develops its ability to survive in competition, much the way martial arts masters do. The kata for your business may not be the same as for others, so think of these seven kata as foundational habits. Progressive mastery will deliver increasingly meaningful results over time. Ultimately, they enable you as an I&O pro be more effective at helping employees grow and thrive, so they can win, serve and retain more customers for your company.