In an effort to become a more customer-centric organization, Voice Systems Engineering recently hit a new milestone and added "Customer First" to its corporate values list. Customer Experience Strategist Maryanne Fiedler champions this initiative.
Maryanne received a customer experience certification with Forrester, and for the past two years, she has worked to bring this initiative to the workplace. This educational program inspired her to shift the organization's culture to one that is mindful of the customer's point of view at every touchpoint.
Our journey starts with this guiding principle — to be mindful of our customers and how we influence their experiences with our services. This process can be challenging as many companies tend to fall into old habits. During Maryanne's training, she learned that, on average, customer-centricity is a 5-year journey.
"We live and die by what happens to customers while they're using our services," says Maryanne.
In the past, we have worked to understand the customer experience through focus groups and one-on-one customer interviews. These conversations were explicit as to why they use our product and the value they place on our brands. Additionally, we use website surveys to collect feedback on the brand and input on new features and functionalities.
Moving forward, we can get to know our customers and understand their pain points through a customer advisory panel. In terms of technology, we will develop customer-based user-testers to learn what’s missing from their experience and how we can make things better.
"In our industry, it's hard to differentiate on features, functionality, and message," says Maryanne. "The leverage we have is the experience. It's the way people feel when they get here, and perhaps more importantly, when they leave here. We can be more proactive for the customer and keep the customer in mind when they're making decisions. That's where I think we have the opportunity to stand apart from our competitors, and it's why I'm so passionate about doing this work."
Maryanne's first step in leading the organization on this customer-centric journey was reevaluating the mission and vision of VSE's brands.
"We looked at where we are now as a brand and where we want to be in the future," says Maryanne.
This process allowed us to create a clear definition of why we exist as a brand. We crafted a "why" statement to support the idea of customer-centricity and shared it with the entire organization.
The next step was to determine how we look at the business's success based on metrics. We asked questions, like do our metrics include the customer at the level we want them to? How can we make this happen in the future?
The organization took part in multiple workshops to work towards the goal of becoming a customer-centric culture. We reviewed what a customer-centric organization was and outlined five key steps to put us on the customer-centric roadmap. Through these workshops, the organization determined VSE needed a new corporate value that clearly outlined how we should always think from the customer's perspective.
When developing the corporate value, we looked at some of the world's largest organizations that focus on customer-centricity.
"When you look at large customer-centric companies, you realize their vision statements—their CX visions—are straightforward and active but so incredibly meaningful," says Maryanne.
Currently, we are in steps 4 and 5 of our journey. Step 4 is about the employee experience. There's evidence that when the employees are energized and have positive experiences within the organization, this transpires into providing more positive experiences for the customer. We need to identify the behaviors we seek from employees and discover what is restricting people in the organization from doing those behaviors. Also, how can we celebrate, reinforce, and measure the progress of these behaviors?
Step 5 is determining how we measure the benefits of the organization in customer-centricity. Developing the leading indicators that track our customer-centric programs' progress and, more importantly, their impact on the customer is essential to measuring if our cultural shift is successful.
As we continue on our journey of embracing a customer-centric mindset, we look forward to how this dynamic shift will impact the way we work, think, and make decisions as an organization. Putting our customer's needs at the heart of our culture fosters purpose, meaning, and empowerment in the work we do as a team. And as we enter 2021, we’re excited to keep hitting those milestones of making customer-centricity the backbone of our organization. The truth is, we’re kind of obsessed with our customers and proud to share it with the world!