Report: Infusing Culture Throughout The New Employee Journey

We just published a Temkin Group report, Infusing Culture Throughout The New Employee Journey.

Here’s the executive summary:

A company’s culture reflects the attitudes and behaviors of its employees and influences almost every aspect of the employee journey and experience. However, despite its importance, many companies fail to orient new employees to their culture during onboarding. Rather than helping new hires form long-term connections with the organization and its values, companies often use this time to teach new hires about the organization’s processes. Companies instead should use their culture as a focal point during recruiting, hiring, and onboarding and then continue to emphasize it as employees acclimate to their roles. This report:

  • Explores how companies can align new employees with their culture.
  • Describes how companies can infuse culture throughout the four stages of the new hire journey: Establish Cultural Fit, Set Behavioral Expectations, Reinforce Positive Performance, and Prioritize Sustaining Culture.
  • Shares examples of best practices from a number of companies, including Adobe, Crowe Horwath, LexisNexis, Oxford Properties, Touchpoint Support Services, and Safelite Autoglass.
  • Provides a checklist companies can use to execute their culture-focused onboarding program effectively.

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Here are the best practices described in the report:

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An Ugly Uber Lesson In Organizational Culture

1702_ubercultureIn a recent Fast Company article, This Is What Caused Uber’s Broken Company Culture, Uber was described as having a…

“Hobbesian environment” where “workers are pitted against one another and where a blind eye is turned to infractions from top performers.”

While I haven’t investigated Uber’s actual culture, it’s worth examining what could have caused this type of an environment in one of the fastest growing Internet companies. To be fully transparent, I’m an Uber customer who is thrilled with how the company has transformed the taxi experience.

My take: Culture is frequently neglected. Why? Because it often doesn’t seem to show up until there’s a problem. That’s what happened at Wells Fargo, and it is also what appears to have occurred at Uber. Very few leaders set out to create a dysfunctional culture, but they exist in many places.

Every organization has a culture, whether its leaders explicitly attend to it or not. It represents how employees think, believe, and act:

  • Think: Employees are intellectually bought-in and understand the company’s vision and why it is important to the company. What is the company communicating?
  • Believe: Employees see that leaders are truly committed to what is important to the company. What are leaders demonstrating with their behaviors?
  • Act. Employees adjust their behaviors to align with what is important to the company. What do employees do when no one is looking?

In young companies, organizational culture closely mirrors the attitudes of its leaders. If they care about fast growth at all costs or winning through combat, then that’s the context that frames how employees think, believe, and act. If the company is successful, then the culture tends to be strong, as it is implicitly reinforced by that success.

What does strong culture look like? Picture a cult. Behavior isn’t judged on a normal good/bad scale, but on how well people conform to the tone set by its leaders. Inappropriate behavior such as the sexual harassment alleged at Uber can go unchecked, unless it overtly bumps up against a cultural norm. If alleged allegations of wrong doing are not important to the leaders, then they will not be taken seriously or even acknowledged.

To all of the leaders reading this post, especially those who are running young, fast-growing companies, please stop ignoring organizational culture. You’re responsible for much more than financial results. You’re creating an organization that can hopefully endure and add value to society. So focus on your organizational culture and create a company that you can be proud of for generations.

Wondering how to do it? Read my post: Put Culture Change On Your 2017 CX Agenda. Here’s How. 

The bottom line: Organizational culture really, really matters!

My 5 Super Bowl Observations (Good For CX and Leadership)

1702_brucesuperbowlgear2I was very fortunate (as a die-hard Patriots fan) to have attended Super Bowl LI in Houston. It was the most amazing game that I’ve ever seen.

I’m still a bit numb.

After spending most of the game feeling very melancholy and wondering why I had bothered to make the trip to Houston, the Patriots did the near-impossible. They came back to win after being behind by 25 points. At one point in the game, the Falcons had a 99.6% chance of winning!

Here’s my video from right after we won…

Now that it’s been a few days, I can reflect back on the Patriots victory. Here are some of my thoughts that I also think apply to customer experience and leadership:

  1. Every player counts. Throughout the Super Bowl, playoffs, and the regular season, different Patriots players made key plays. There are 53 people on an NFL roster and more than 60 people play for the team during a year (with injuries and roster shifts). While many people focus on Tom Brady, the Patriots won because of the performance of all 60+ players. This insight drives how the Patriot’s allot their cap-limited player salaries.
  2. Do your job. Throughout the season, the Patriots repeated a mantra: Do Your Job! While it’s always easy to focus on what other people might be doing, or the hype around big games, each player will best influence the outcome if they are physically and mentally prepared. In this environment, players are motivated to prepare and they have trust in their teammates.
  3. Focus on the next play. When the Patriots were down 28 to 3, it looked bleak. The players could have put their heads down and pouted about the previous plays, but they didn’t. They went back on the field and did their best on the next play. And then the next play, and the next, and the next. The team’s success was not based on a single play (although Edelman’s catch was amazing). Instead, it came from a large number of next plays.
  4. Leadership drives culture. Getting 60+ well-paid athletes to share a common vision, and operate in a consistent manner does not happen by accident. And it’s not practical to micro manage every player’s minute-by-minute activities. This type of alignment only comes from a strong culture, which has been modeled and nurtured by Bill Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff.
  5. Live events are special. I’m sure that every Patriots fan watching or listening to the Super Bowl went crazy when we won the game, but there’s something magical about being there in person. The energy that’s created during a live event cant be replicated on TV or radio. It was a truly emotional experience that I shared with 10’s of 1,000’s of my closest Patriots friends. I was also at Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix, and felt the same massive energy when we beat the Seahawks.

The bottom line: All I can say is… Go Pats!

Put Culture Change On Your 2017 CX Agenda. Here’s How.

If you’re thinking about improving your organization’s customer experience next year (and why wouldn’t you be?!?), then I hope you are also thinking about some changes in your organization’s culture. As I’ve said many, many times, your customer experience is a reflection of your culture and operating processes. It’s your culture that will sustain any improvements that you make in customer experience.

As I’m sure you know, culture change isn’t easy. People are naturally averse to change. As John Kenneth Galbraith so aptly stated, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”

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Any chance of a successful, purposeful change in your culture needs to focus on the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of individual employees. That’s the foundation of a concept that Temkin Group introduced called Employee-Engaging Transformation (EET). EET is based on five practices: Vision Translation, Persistent Leadership, Middle Management Activation, Grassroots Mobilization, and Captivating Communications.
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EET is different than typical top-down, autocratic attempts at culture change. Those efforts either just don’t work, or they create unintended negative elements in the culture.

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Here’s an assessment that you can use to gauge your effectiveness at applying EET.

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For more information, check out all of our rich content on culture change, starting with these two reports:

The bottom line: Culture change is a necessary ingredient of CX transformation.

The Customer Experience Shift From Centralized To Federated

In the report, The Federated Customer Experience Model, we discuss the direction that mature CX organizations will eventually go in—distributing CX capabilities across the organization.  It’s built on three components: CX Centers of Excellence, Enterprise CX Coordination, and Distributed CX Skills and Mindset.

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Federation is not just a path for customer experience, it’s a common path for successful transformation within large organizations. Here’s why:

  • Changing an organization requires a concerted effort to define the desired end state, and to align the resources and commitment to drive change. This requires a centralized model.
  • Embedding behaviors in an organization requires distributed capabilities and beliefs, which needs to be disbursed and cultivated. This requires a federated model.

The bottom line: Centralized CX success leads to federated sustainability.

Amazon Makes Smart Move to Positive Employee Feedback

Last year the New York Times published an article describing Amazon as having a “bruising workplace,” a performance-based environment that often brings employees to tears. It seems that Amazon is changing its ways a bit. It recently announced that it was adjusting the way it evaluates employees. A spokesperson for Amazon described the change as follows:

We’re launching a new annual review process next year that is radically simplified and focuses on our employees’ strengths, not the absence of weaknesses. We will continue to iterate and build on the program based on what we learn from our employees.

My take: Great move. There’s a growing body of research showing that people perform better when they receive positive feedback. 1611_positivitymattersIn my post Positive Psychology Meets Customer Experience, I mention an approach called “appreciative inquiry,” which is a technique for motivating employees that focuses on their strengths.

To highlight the impact of this phenomena, I analyzed our data on more than 5,000 U.S. employees. As you can see below, when bosses give more positive feedback, employees are more likely to recommend the company’s products and services, to do something good for the company that is unexpected, and make improvement recommendations.

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The bottom line: Positivity is a strong human motivator.

Wells Fargo: A Lesson in Leadership & Culture Gone Awry

In case you missed this in the news, Wells Fargo is under investigation for opening fraudulent accounts for its customers. During a period between 2011 and 2015, it is estimated that there were as many as 1.5 million deposit accounts and more than half a million credit card accounts opened inappropriately on behalf of customers.

As part of a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren grills Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf and makes a few very important points. Stumpf heavily, heavily pushed his organization to cross-sell products, setting a long-term goal of 8 products per household, while the industry average was around three. He regularly touted the increase in products per household (over 6.1) to investment analysts and pushed his organization for the growth to continue.

My Take: Stumpf should resign (or be fired). That sounds abrupt, but let me explain…

In this blog, I often discuss the power of culture. It’s one of the most critical drivers of the behaviors of employees across large organizations. As a matter of fact, Peter Drucker has been credited as saying, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”

Whenever there is a consistent set of widespread actions (good or bad), then the first place you should look to explain them is the culture. One of our Six Laws of Customer Experience is that employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated. Clearly at Wells Fargo, cross-selling new accounts to customers was measured, incented, and celebrated.

So Wells Fargo employees acted in ways that were consistent with their environment.  They acted in accordance with the company’s culture. Does that mean that the individuals who did the wrong things should be absolved of their errors? Absolutely not. They were wrong and should face the consequences for their actions. But the acts of individuals are symptoms, while the culture that encouraged those behaviors is the systemic issue.

That gets me back to Stumpf. He created (or at least nurtured) the culture across Wells Fargo, and should therefore be held accountable for the consequences. Let me put it this way, should Victor Frankenstein be held accountable for the damage caused by the monster he created? Of course!

Stumpf was rewarded handsomely for the cross-sell results of the culture he created. It’s now time for him to pay the price for the problems caused by that culture.

The bottom line: Leaders must be more mindful of the culture they create.

 

14 Highlights From the 2016 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

This week, I made my 5th annual pilgrimage to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. As always, I really enjoyed hearing players, owners, general managers, members of the press, and experts discuss two of my favorite topics: #sports and #analytics.

This was the 10th year of the conference. I want to say congratulations and thank you to the two co-founders and leaders of this great event:

  • Jessica Gelman (VP of Customer Marketing & Strategy, The Kraft Sports Group)
  • Daryl Morey (General Manager, Houston Rockets)

Moneyball Reunion

The conference opened up with a session called Moneyball Reunion, looking back at the book that fueled the sports analytics movement. Jackie MacMullen led a panel with Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball), Bill James (godfather of sports analytics), and Paul DePodesta (key player it the Moneyball story and now Chief Strategy Office of Cleveland Browns). Here’s one of my favorite scenes from the Moneyball movie:

Interesting comments from Michael Lewis:

  • He started out researching an article on financial inequities in baseball, wondering what the Oakland Athletics’ right fielder (who made $100K/year) felt about the fact that the right fielder was making $4M/year.
  • Bill James referred to a picture of the baseball diamond that was on his wall as a “field of ignorance.”
  • “Billy Beane had to learn not to trust his intuitive judgement.”
  • When he looked at the Oakland Athletics coming out of the shower for the first time, he was shocked at how fat and un-athletic they looked. He went on to say that the trick was to “find people with some defect that was overvalued.”

Interesting comments from Bill James:

  • I was just trying to get from a question to an answer. I never thought of the use of the data by baseball professionals.”
  • There was a lot of discussion about what people can’t do, which is irrelevant. What’s important is what people can do…. You win games with what people can do.”
  • When MacMullen asked how to speed up the game of baseball today, James said to get rid of the balk rule. He said the balk rule slows down the game the same that basketball would be slowed down if the fast break was eliminated.

14 Key Highlights From the Conference

Here are some other key themes that I heard during the conference. They don’t represent a full view of the event, because I only attended a subset of the sessions.

Read More …

Customer-Centric Culture Change (Video)

Our research and work with clients show that customer experience is a reflection of an organization’s culture. Any company that wants to build sustainable customer experience must build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Employee-Engaging Transformation.

Want to know more? Watch this short video:

The bottom line: CX success almost always requires culture change

Report: Benchmarking HR’s Support of CX and Employee Engagement

1602_HRinCXBenchmark_FCOVERWe published a Temkin Group report, Benchmarking HR’s Support of CX and Employee Engagement.  We surveyed 300 HR professionals from large organizations in North America and compared the results to a similar study we did in 2012. Here’s the executive summary:

Employee engagement is a critical component of customer experience (CX). To determine how effectively human resource (HR) departments support these engagement efforts, we surveyed 300 HR professionals from large companies and compared the results to a similar study we conducted in 2012. Seventy-three percent of HR professionals believe that it’s very important for their organization to become more customer-centric, but only 31% believe that HR professionals are significantly helping these efforts. The good news? That’s more than twice the level of HR support we found in 2012. Compared with 2012, companies are both measuring and acting on employee feedback more frequently, and HR professionals have more bandwidth to work on employee engagement. When we compared the companies that deliver outstanding customer experience with the companies that don’t, we found that the CX leaders have better financial performance, enjoy higher levels of engaged employees, are more customer- and mission-centric, have HR groups that are more actively involved in CX and employee engagement activities, and more frequently measure employee feedback. To improve employee engagement, companies must master the Five I’s of Employee Engagement: Inform, Inspire, Instruct, Involve and Incent.

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Here’s one of the 25 figures in the report:

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Here are some other findings in the research: Read More …

Hungry for CX, Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch

Management guru Peter Drucker is credited with saying that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” I agree, especially when it comes to large organizations.

Culture can make or break the success of a company, which can be a scary phenomenon for executives. While leaders tend to be comfortable around strategy discussions, they’re often painfully awkward discussing corporate culture.

Based on our work with many organizations and our research of 100’s more, here’s a primer on corporate culture that addresses six key questions.

1) What Exactly is Organizational Culture?

All of our work in this area comes down to a key reality; culture is how employees think, believe, and act.

  • Think: Employees are intellectually bought-in and understand the company’s vision and why it is important to the company. What is the company communicating?
  • Believe: Employees see that leaders are truly committed to what is important to the company. What are leaders demonstrating with their behaviors?
  • Act. Employees adjust their behaviors to align with what is important to the company. What do employees do when no one is looking?

Companies often focus on the think level, hoping that a barrage of communications can drive culture change. Well it can’t. You need to develop plans that deal with all three levels: Think, Believe, and Act.

2) Why is Culture So Important?

The reason that culture is so important is that it frames what people (employees) do when no one is looking. You have two choices for driving employee behaviors: 1) Prescribe all of their actions and put in place mechanisms to monitor and control them, or 2) Create a culture that encourages them to act consistently with your organization’s objectives. The first approach requires an ever-growing level of resources, and is very difficult to sustain.

Our research shows that customer experience leaders have more customer-centric and mission-centric cultures.

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3) What Does Culture Look Like?

Every organization’s culture is somewhat different, but we’ve found that all cultures share some common characteristics. We developed an organizational cultural map that deines two characteristics of culture:

  • Cultural Focus. Every organization has one element of its efforts that, when push comes to shove, trumps all the other elements. This is the company’s cultural focus can span from being profit-centric, where generating profits comes first, to being customer-centric, where customers come first, or mission-centric, where fulfilling the company’s mission comes first, among many others.
  • Cultural Intensity. To what degree do all of your employees think, believe, and act in the same way. At the low end of the intensity scale, the culture is almost non-existent as few employees share common values. At the high end of the scale, the alignment around values is almost cult-like.

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4) What Are the Elements of a Customer-Centric Culture?

Our research shows that organizations with customer-centric cultures demonstrate four core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.

5) How Customer-Centric Are Organizations?

Temkin Group has identified six stages of maturity towards a customer-centric organization. We examined results from almost 200 large companies that completed our Customer Experience Competency & Maturity Assessment and found that only 11% of companies have reached the highest two levels of maturity, Align and Embed.

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6) How Can You Build A More Customer-Centric Culture?

Changing culture isn’t easy, it requires a significant and comprehensive approach that focuses on affecting the behaviors of every employee. To help companies drive the change, Temkin Group introduced an approach called Employee-Engaging Transformation, (EET), which we define as, “Aligning employee attitudes and behaviors with the organization’s desire to change.”

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The bottom line:  CX success requires a strong appetite for culture

This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival “Celebrating Customer Experience.” It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here. – See more at: http://cxday.org

Report: Creating and Sustaining a Customer-Centric Culture

1507_CreatingCXCulture_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Creating and Sustaining a Customer-Centric Culture. Here’s the executive summary:

Temkin Group defines culture as how employees think, believe, and act, and if an organization wants to differentiate its customer experience, it must address each one of these areas. However culture change is not easy. Culture change efforts are often impeded by common pitfalls, such as ignoring the existing culture or becoming impatient at the pace of change. To make this effort smoother, Temkin Group recommends adopting an approach we call Employee-Engaging Transformation (EET), which consists of five practices: Vision Translation, Persistent Leadership, Middle Management Activation, Grassroots Mobilization, and Captivating Communications. In this report, we’ve compiled case studies of how five organizations—Hagerty, Hilton Garden Inn, Oxford Properties, Safelite AutoGlass, and Transamerica—apply these EET practices to create and sustain their customer-centric cultures. To help your company discuss its goals around culture, use Temkin Group’s Cultural Planning Map.

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This graphics provides an overview of the details on how five companies are driving culture change.

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The bottom line: Promoters are much more valuable than detractors.

Comcast Needs To Trim Its Customer Experience Action Plan

A few months ago, The Consumerist leaked Comcast’s 10 point Customer Experience Action Plan.

1. Never being satisfied with good enough
2. Investing in training, tools, and technology
3. Hiring more people … Thousands of people
4. Being on time, every time
5. Get it right the first time
6. Keeping bills simple and transparent
7. Service on demand
8. Rethinking policies and fees
9. Reimagining the retail experience
10. Keeping score

My take: As you probably already know, Comcast has terrible customer experience. It’s consistently one of the worst companies in the Temkin Experience Ratings. So I have to start by applauding the leadership team for taking the problem seriously, and putting together a plan.

But the plan is flawed. I’ve already commented on Comcast’s mistaken plan to hire 5,500 new people, which is item #3. The 10 items collectively read like a laundry list of things, instead of a coherent approach and commitment to change the overall culture of the company (see the video, Driving Customer Experience Transformation, Made Simple).

The initial item “Never being satisfied with good enough” falls flat for an organization that is rarely good enough. How does that resonate with the pain that its customers regularly feel?

And the last item “keeping score” is also a red flag. Having and touting a customer experience metric is quite different from using it to drive change. We found that while more than half of the large companies describe themselves as “good” at collecting CX metrics, less than 20% are “good” at making trade-offs between financial metrics and CX metrics.

What do I recommend? Comcast should narrow its focus and make a commitment to be better at a few things that will make a huge difference for customers. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Being on time, every time
  2. Get it right the first time
  3. Keeping bills simple and transparent

If Comcast can do these things, then its customer experience will improve dramatically. As a matter of fact, if it just gets it right the first time, then I’d expect to see it jump out of the bottom of the Temkin Experience Ratings.

The bottom line: Commitment to a few things is better than a list of many

CX Leaders Are More Customer- And Mission-Centric

In the recent report, The State of CX Management, 2015, we examined how survey respondents from firms with $500 million or more in revenues classified their corporate culture. As you can see below, almost half selected either profit- or sales-centric.

  • Profit-centric (Generating profits come first): 28%
  • Sales-centric (Generating sales comes first): 20%
  • Customer-centric (Our customers come first): 16%
  • Product-centric (Product features and capabilities come first): 14%
  • Mission-centric (Fulfilling our mission comes first): 9%  
  • Process-centric (Process efficiency comes first): 7%
  • None of the above are even close to describing our culture: 5%

We also examined the difference in responses based on the companies’ results in Temkin Group’s CX Maturity and Competency Assessment. The chart below shows a significant difference between companies with above average CX maturity and those with below average CX maturity. Companies with higher CX maturity levels are much, much more likely to be customer- or mission-centric.

1506_CultureVsCXMaturityThe bottom line: CX maturity often requires culture change

What is Culture? How People Think, Believe, and Act

I often say that the customer experience your organization delivers is a reflection of your culture and operating processes. In other words, what customers experience outside is based on what’s going on inside. To consistently differentiate your customer experience, you need to transform your culture.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch”
– Peter Drucker

The reason that culture is so important is that it frames what people (employees) do when no one is looking. You have two choices for driving employee behaviors: 1) Prescribe all of their actions and put in place mechanisms to monitor and control them, or 2) Create a culture that encourages them to act consistently with your organization’s objectives. The first approach requires an ever-growing level of resources, and is very difficult to sustain.

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, has said that:

“If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.”

Our research has shown that customer-centric organizations demonstrate four CX core competencies:

  • Purposeful Leadership:Leaders operate with a clear, well-articulated set of values.
  • Compelling Brand Values: Brand attributes drive decisions about the company treats customers.
  • Employee Engagement: Employees are fully committed to the goals of the organization.
  • Customer Connectedness: Customer feedback and insight is integrated throughout the organization.

To help companies drive culture change, which we believe is a campaign to engage all employees, we created a concept called Employee-Engaging Transformation. This approach requires a different view towards driving organizational change:

1503_EETchangeWhat Exactly is Organizational Culture?

All of our work in this area comes down to a key reality; culture is how employees think, believe, and act. So if you want to drive culture change, you need to deal with all three of those areas. Here’s how:

  • Think: Employees need to be intellectually bought-in and understand why there needs to be a change.
  • Believe: Employees need to see that leaders are truly committed to the change.
  • Act. Employees need to adjust some of their behaviors to align with the change.

Companies often focus on the think level, hoping that a barrage of communications can drive culture change. Well it can’t. You need to develop plans that deal with all three levels: Think, Believe, and Act.

Leaders Can Make or Break Culture Change

Leaders play a critical role in driving cultural change. As you can see above, employees won’t “believe” in any change unless they see their leaders behaving differently. We’ve identified three characteristics of transformational leaders: communicating “why,” modeling the desired behaviors, and reinforcing change.

Three Required Characteristics For Transformational Leaders

If leaders continue to operate in the same way, making the same decisions and trade-offs, then the organization will believe that nothing is changing — no matter how many emails the CEO sends, or compelling speeches she gives at town hall meetings.

The bottom line: Culture is a key ingredient to long-term CX success.