From ordinary to exceptional - How HR can lead the way

More than 100 of Australia's top HR Directors  gathered at the annual Marcus Evans HR Summit at the Gold Coast last week. A wide range of keynotes, case studies and vendor meetings kept delegates informed on what's happening in their field. It was an opportunity to share experiences with their peers, gain some new insights and explore product and service offerings from selected vendors.

As one of the vendor sponsors it was a chance for us to connect and to learn what's on the agenda for many of the largest and most respected organisations in the country. It was interesting to note that 'the customer' reigns top of the list for many organisations focused on lifting their game in the wake of a tough few years.  With large scale downsizing and restructuring hopefully behind us, many of those we spoke with are looking to reshape and realign their culture around the customer as they look for growth opportunities.

We call this 'customer centric culture change'. It involves an organisational shift that puts the customer at the heart of everything you do. It unifies the organisation with a common cause and gets people to look at the organisation from the outside in, ensuring that what they do and the way they do it makes sense and creates value for their customers.

As the champions of people and culture, it makes sense that HR Directors are at the forefront of any major customer initiative. Here's how HR professionals can drive culture change that will make the difference between being an ordinary organisation and an exceptional one:

1. Lead the CHANGE

Becoming customer-centric is a leadership issue. Step up, be an advocate for your internal and external customers and a role model for your people. Make decisions, drive change and reward behaviours that put the customer at the forefront of your business.

  1. CLARITY of purpose

    Clarify your purpose and make the customer your ‘cause’. Create a clear and compelling customer-centric vision that people can believe in and get excited about. Break down the silos and unite the organisation by focusing on the overall customer experience your brand promises.

  2. CONTEXT for change

    Explore the need to change and the consequences of not. Understanding ‘why’ will help your people put change in context and get them on board with the mission. Your ‘why’ might be that customer satisfaction has plummeted, a new competitor has entered your space, or maybe sales are slipping. Existing competitors might be closing the gap and whatever got you to your current level of success is not enough to keep you there. Now is the time to create some urgency – to look at the strategic reasons for change and what will happen if you don’t.

  3. CONFIDENCE to be the difference

    Mindset is key. Build the confidence within to make each customer more successful. Confidence comes down to attitude and resilience. People need to feel that what they do matters and they have the power to make a difference. Recognise and work through the natural resistance to change – challenge the thinking, build trust and encourage new attitudes and behaviours.

  4. COMPETENCE to create value

    Understand and deliver what customers value. Solve their problems and exceed expectations. Develop your people so they get the basics right first time, every time. Boost the benefits and reduce the time, effort and emotion your customers need to invest to do business with you.

  5. COMMUNICATE to engage

    Involve, inform and inspire your people to embrace the change. Communicate in an engaging way that makes sense to the people you’re talking with. Be visible, listen and ask for input. Share customer stories that highlight progress. And most importantly, communicate honestly. Be candid about the change – share the vision and plan and keep people informed of how they will be affected. Do this with empathy and actively encourage people to get with the program.

  6. COACH for performance

    Develop customer-centric mindsets and behaviours that lift performance. Bridge the competence gap that change creates and ensure people have the know-how, tools and ongoing support to do things differently. Invest in skills development, on the job coaching, and give positive and corrective feedback on the customer-centric behaviours you want to embed. Re-align what gets recognised and rewarded.

  7. COMMIT and sustain

    Embed new routines and ways of doing things that demonstrate commitment to customers. Show what success looks like, set high expectations and reward achievement. Create an environment where people have a chance to contribute and accomplish something meaningful for their customers – watch their commitment grow and the changes stick.

  8. COLLABORATE to unite

    Break down the silos, work together and inspire others to improve. Collaboration and sharing experiences, ideas and stories is where real traction happens. It’s in the conversations and the passing on of what worked, for whom and why, that people see the results of a new way of thinking about customers and a new way of operating at an individual, team and organisational level.

  9. CONTINUOUSLY improve

    Install customer metrics, monitor and measure to find a better way. Empower teams to set tangible targets and to work towards them, tracking their results. Mobilise your people with a sense of ownership – push for progress, celebrate accomplishments and continuously look for a better way.

If you'd like to improve the results of your organisation by building a more customer centric culture, contact me for a confidential discussion.

Linley Watson
Ph: + 61 403 149220

Posted: Tuesday 31 March 2015

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