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Theme 2: Implications of Putting the Customer-Focused Plan in Place

Once again, this theme will focus on the course project scenario.

Your boss has asked you to predict the implications of putting the new customer-focused plan into place. You have spent a significant amount of time reading books and articles to understand organizational design and psychology. You are sure that you have a good idea of the major things that could go wrong, but you need to arrange the list of implications so that you can recommend which to handle first and why. You call this yourcultural change action plan because of its emphasis on people and their concerns.

The Cultural Change Action Plan—Things to Consider

You know that you will need to analyze each issue and compose a method to approach it. It will become apparent that the most useful thing to do is to think in terms of priorities.

Obtain Leadership Support

What is the most important thing all employees need to know about any change? The answer: leadership supported and promoted it. You decide that the first item is CEO and major leadership support for the initiative.

Tie the Initiative to the Bottom Line

You’ve seen the CEO talk about new initiatives before and it seemed like these new programs were exciting for awhile, but inevitably each gradually faded away after a few short months. What would make this one different? This leads you to a second item: the initiative needed to be directly tied to the bottom line of the company. If the CEO were to get behind it, the reason would have to be very clear to all employees and attached to each person’s paycheck in some way. A good plan for cultural change would need to affect each individual’s “bottom line.”

Share the Initiative’s Vision with Employees and Enlist their Support

In the past, you have witnessed all sorts of “all-hands” meetings where new projects were introduced that promoted the company’s bottom line. Rarely had anyone explained how the plans affected employee ownership of the project. People would not get onboard unless they understood how they are needed and valued by the organization.

Aha! You realize that each employee is also a customer! Somewhere, sometime, each has bought something somewhere – whether it was a morning cup of coffee, a book, an insurance policy or a carwash. This provides you with another important strategy to help everyone get onboard: an emotional appeal to employees to help customers have a better experience.

You think that the CEO could reinforce the emotional appeal of a customer-centered approach by announcing the initiative’s vision while speaking to employees about their own experiences as customers. It would be imperative that the CEO not only speak about the new vision, but also model the behaviors that all leaders should be following.

A successive part of your plan is to implement the “learn by doing” model of customer service. The CEO should regularly go into the “lower ranks” of the company and interact with customers, just like any other employee would. Other leaders would do the same.

Next, you devise a plan for the CEO to introduce compensation tied directly to the customer focus. Normally, your CEO spoke of bottom-line revenues; but for this new approach, a way to describe its direct impact on employee revenues for customer retention requires very clear articulation. Subsequent leaders and supervisors could outline in detail the impact upon each employee. This approach fits best into your company’s pay-for-performance plan.

Get all Leaders Onboard

Now, the tough part: how do you get all the leaders onboard? The CEO will need to meet regularly with corporate leaders to reinforce the need to be customer centered. Retreats, conferences and cross-divisional meetings will need to be held to reinforce the sense of being customer focused. No one leader should be seen as primary. No matter what the power core of the company, all leaders will need to be treated as equally important. Each, in turn, will then be required to promote the customer-centered approach. For credibility, you might consider selecting case studies of Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton, Disney and other award-winning customer-focused companies as required reading for all leaders and supervisors.

Create an Incentive System

Next, you will need to design an incentive system for leaders and supervisors. Each will be rewarded monetarily for designing and implementing a division-specific reward system. This should not be tied only to immediate quantitative revenues, but also to qualitative actions that promote the new customer-centered approach. It is important that employees feel valued and that they are contributing to an exciting work in progress that would ultimately benefit all involved.

Educate Employees at All Levels

This means that you need to establish a multi-level educational program that includes training, workshops and morale-boosting functions. You could even design a small company learning organization.

Cultural Change Action Items

Finally, you will turn your attention to processes and procedures, initially composing a list of the primary cultural change action items:

· The CEO Sets the Stage

· Announces and continually reinforces clear statements about customer-centered rationale

· Ties incentives to the bottom line of the company and each employee

· Treats employees as customers

· Encourages employees to place themselves in the customer’s place

· Establishes the new vision for company revenue

· Establishes and espouses the “learn by doing” model for all leaders

Leaders Must Be Onboard

· CEO must reinforce with leaders the need to work cross-divisionally.

· An executive learning program should be instituted.

· Incentives should be tied to leaders’ own compensation.

· The “learn by doing” model is reinforced and espoused by all leaders.

Establish an Accountability Program

· All metrics and rewards for performance pay are tied directly to retention of customers.

Establish a Reward System

· Incentives and rewards need to be qualitative as well as quantitative — will reinforce accountability measures.

Set up an Educational Program

· Employees need to understand why things are changing in order to “buy in” to the changes with enthusiasm.

Theme 3: Predicting and Preparing for Change

Let’s consider the processes that might cause each division’s efforts to fail. In your plan, you detailed that each division leader would form workgroups to research the division’s needs for customer focus. These needs would then be prioritized in alignment with leadership’s stated priorities. This means that the CEO must establish a list of priorities for leaders to follow.

How will you help your CEO prioritize needs for a customer-centered, organization-wide change? Once again, you should consider the reality check audit for each division in order to identify perhaps five major gaps in customer treatment across all divisions. Additionally, you will need to create a list of processes that need to be established before an initiative can be put in place.

Leverage Technology for Data Collection

Utilizing an enterprise-wide customer relationship management platform will be pivotal in capturing and sharing customer data.

Cross-divisional meetings to discuss integrating technology should occur regularly so that all affected employees have the opportunity to provide customer input. Each division needs to demonstrate its commitment to using technology throughout its structures to promote the learning relationships with customers.

How will you get everyone onboard? Once again, the CEO would need to launch this initiative and detail its rationale. Further, a customer service representative should be featured as an integral part of the launch so that all employees understand its scope.

Communication

Communication is a second issue that might demonstrate major gaps. Any opportunity for employee input, and a properly constructed and non-threatening feedback loop, ensures that the voice of the employee will be heard, no matter what level.

In addition to communicating company wide, the CCO should make the most of any opportunity to address the organization in both division and departmental meetings. Communication structures need to be established and clarified for employees at all levels, so that employee voices are appreciated, even if they don’t deliver good news.

Clear Voice of the Customer

It is essential that the voice of the customer be heard by all divisions. If people in each division literally heard what the customer had to say, especially if comments were delivered audibly, the impact would be great. Processes are often not directly attached to the customer. However, anywhere that the customer voice can relate to a process behind the scenes, it can be highlighted so that employees could see the beneficial impact of their work. The voice of the customer can also be used to unite teams in their goals for daily work.

Metrics

Metrics need to be designed to cut across the silos and divisions that even remotely served the customer. The more metrics tie divisions together, the more performance can be measured in terms of cross-divisional collaboration. Rewards and incentives can be used to persuade people to work together in serving customer needs.

Cross-Organizational Agreements

Cross-organizational agreements need to be established to implement the larger vision. In your analysis, you might discover that many processes seemed to be going in diverse, often in opposite, directions. Therefore, you should consider setting up meetings to establish secondary agreements of how to implement the CEO’s vision for customer focus before any initiative became a process in a division. For those processes already in place, cross-divisional meetings must occur first to investigate where the processes required change to support the new focus.

Now that you have established your five-point process plan, you are ready to add it to your
cultural change action plan
.

Processes Agenda Snapshot

Technology

· Clear specifications for data sharing and input company wide

· Levels of access established with direct CEO involvement

Communication

· Proper channels need to be established with non-threatening feedback loops.

Clear Voice of the Customer

· Only one in five workers has clearly defined work goals and customer voice is not considered to be an accountability metric

Metrics

· Designed to cut across silos and divisions that serve the customer

Cross-Organizational Agreements

· Need to be established to implement the larger vision