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Is it possible to create a real ‘customer first’ culture?

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In S2. EP7, Ben Bax, Client Services Director joins Matt and Simon in the pod booth to discuss how to create a customer first culture and the obstacles organisations face in pulling this off.

Guest Speaker - Ben Bax

Ben Bax

Ben Bax is a highly experienced Customer Service leader with proven track record in driving real change into organisations, with particular focus on customer service, client relationships and strategy.

Ben has over 10 years’ experience as a Customer Service Director, working across the Utilities, Housing Maintenance, Highways,

Rail, Environmental and Facilities Management Sectors. As such, field based customer service is a particular specialism of Ben’s where he has worked with many client’s in the development of customer experience strategies and effecting enhanced customer focused culture change.

With significant experience in the regulated sectors Ben has built strong relationships with regulators and successfully lobbied and influenced regulatory change to improve customer service, particularly in the Water Industry.

Ben is now the Client Services Director at Lightfoot, whose disruptive technology is rewarding better driving, where he and his teams are responsible for Customer Onboarding, Account Management and Customer Support.

Connect with Ben on LinkedIn.

 I think in terms of creating a customer first culture, you’ve got to be honest with yourselves about what that means. And you’ve got to be able to translate it from an ethereal vision into what you want people to do. Because if you don’t do that it’s open to interpretation and you’ll get varying degrees of success and buy in.

Discussion Topics

  • What does a customer first culture actually mean and what should companies be striving for?
  • We talk about the many benefits of customer centricity but what are the main obstacles organisations face in pulling this off?
  • Do you think companies actually care or is it the case that other business objectives take priority?
  • Now more than ever do you think companies will put greater or less stock in CX?
  • How do you go about changing the mindset of stakeholders and colleagues who don’t think or get customer service?
  • How can companies measure success and the effectiveness of a customer first culture?
  • What would your top tips be for building a customer first culture?

Transcript

Simon – Welcome to the CX chat with Matt and Simon, our podcast series on all things customer experience. Each week we talk about some of the hottest topics and biggest issues facing CX professionals right now. And we always invite special guests to join our discussions. Now for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Simon Thorpe. And as ever I am joined by my colleague Matthew Dyer. Marty, how the hell are you today?

Matt – Good thank you, Simon. I noticed an interesting article you published it a day from Boston Consulting Group talking about the most innovative companies of 2020. And no surprise, I guess to see Apple at number one, but I was surprised to see Costco in the list. I don’t know what do you think?

Simon – It was really interesting that list in fact, we’ll stick that on the socials for this podcast. So it’d be interesting to get other people’s views on it. I think there’s a lot of surprises on there. I mean, I I just wonder, particularly with Apple being number one, I mean, yes, they are known through and through for innovation, but I will expecting them necessarily to be top of the pile this year. I just wonder I think that plays really nicely into a future podcast we’re doing on the halo brand effects. I wonder if that’s played some of an impact there. But yeah, interesting list. We’ll stick it on the social see what people think.

Matt – Sounds good.

Read the full transcript

Simon – So on this podcast, we’re going to cover a topic that I think is going to resonate rather well with people, might be a bit contentious this one, but I’m really interested to, to get people’s feedback after we, after we put the recording out. And the theme this week is all about is it actually possible to create a customer first culture. Now, as you will have heard, Matt and I talk to many of our guests in season one and season two, and previous editions, you know, almost every company has something on their mission statement on their landing page of their website that says and claims that they are customer centric. They put the customer at the heart of everything they do, live and breathe customer service. But what we want to explore this week is, is that actually just lip service, and companies and organisations genuinely want to create that culture of customer centricity? And if they do, how the hell do you go about doing it? And to help us wade through that contentious topic, we are joined by a great mate of mine and someone who has a vast amount of experience helping companies live and breathe Customer Experience. You know, he’s really genuinely walked the walk and he’s still walking the walk. And he’s held senior leadership positions at the likes of Kier, one of the biggest infrastructure and construction companies. The Pennon Group who operate South Eest water, is currently at with a software company called Lightfoot who are dedicated to creating cleaner and greener vehicles. It’s also represented the utility sector and in all things customer experience in the Houses of Parliament is a VP of utilities for The Institute of customer service a big welcome they very very qualified and lovely chap to boot Mr. Benjamin backs. How are you sir?

Ben – I’m really well thank you, Simon. It’s it’s lovely to be here and thank you for allowing me to be part of the cast of season two. It’s exciting to be here. One minor correction, I didn’t actually present the Houses of Parliament. It was over the road next door in Portcullis House but still scary ministers. And it’s still a fairly big day out for me as to be said.

Simon – Still pretty cool.

Matt – Yeah. And you’re alright. It’s not as formal here, mate. So you’re going to be fine.

Ben – Fair enough.

Simon – Now, Ben, as well as been a great panel of ours. I think you’re in a unique position to be able to help us tackle this subject, because I think well see what you think. I think, for me, you’ve got a great deal of experience working in massive companies, but companies that you wouldn’t directly associate with customer centricity, you know, captive markets, big businesses that you know, Don’t necessarily instantly pop, first of mind, as you know, customer experience. Is that a fair comment? Do you think?

Ben – I think it’s Yeah, I think that’s probably true. I’ve certainly worked in sectors where you wouldn’t necessarily associate huge amounts of, of customer focus instantly. So utility sector, housing, maintenance, even even the oil sector, all places where I’ve worked, where, actually, my role within those businesses, I guess, was pretty unique in that sector, and that we had a senior person that was dedicated just to customers and end users. But I’d like to think that was, you know, in almost a unique opportunity for those businesses and we certainly managed to differentiate, differentiate ourselves, because because of that approach to customer service.

Simon – Because I think one of the one of the toughest things you must have had to deal with and I think every company must have to deal with this is is trying to convince those people within an organisation that have Never been trained or never really thought about customer service. It’s not part of their DNA, they, you know, they’re not measured on it and they’ll tell you touch on it, you know, how do you convince those kind of folk to get on the bus and be customer centric and in those kinds of organisations where you’ve got captive markets, and it’s very kind of asset management driven, that must be really tough.

Ben – Well, I think there’s two, two aspects to that. Firstly, you’re right, trying to convince somebody that’s driven a vehicle or dug holes and fixed fixed assets underground for 20 years or more that all of a sudden I need to think about customers is a challenge. But that challenge is only is only achievable if you’ve got simply touching, touching on culture already. That challenge is only achievable if you’ve got the buy in from the leadership at the very top of the organisation. Otherwise, you would be flogging, flogging a dead horse and I certainly found that as a bit of an evangelist and advocate of customer centricity pretty much my whole life. The more senior positions that I got into the easier it was to influence those things and proliferate that more easily across the business.

Matt – And is that a function of getting to them and speaking and explaining what resources needed to kind of make this a successful programme and even defining what the six success metrics look like?

Ben – More senior level, Matt, yeah, I mean. I think it’s having the ability to demonstrate what’s in it for the board is absolutely key. So I’ve always been able to, to focus on how does increasing your customer focus and creating a customer centric culture? What does that do to the bottom line of the business and I think if you can’t articulate that, you will always struggle at the other end of the of the scale if you like at the other end organisation where you’ve got somebody that’s been very operational or very technical, that we now want to focus on on being a bit more customer. I’ve just always been very, very open and honest and You know, talked about markets, the way things are going, what customer demand is, and just been being open and honest and said, Look, we talk about sustainability in business, this is sustainability. If you still want to be here in the same job in a few years time, we need to get ahead of our competitors and work in this way. And you if you’re open and honest about why an organisation is making change, most people will come along with you as long as as long as you’re doing all the obvious things like, you know, measuring the right things and force the right behaviours, etc. Most people will come along with you there are of course, inevitably in any organisations and terrorists that don’t want to come on the journey. That’s a separate challenge again.

Simon – Hmm, should we take a step back actually, because I mean, you’re right. We’re right into the kind of how you do it bit, but I’m really interested to get your take Ben on, on what you actually think a customer first culture looks like and what company should be striving for because we see those those kind of words on a page and our mission statements quite regularly but what is it? And you know what, what is in the cover art of the realist?

Ben – I, for me it’s very, very simple. It’s a customer centric culture is creating a culture where genuinely the customer is at the heart of everything that you do. And that’s not just the call centre or the sales team or the people that are on the front line of that business, but it’s about people that are our engineers in technical roles in back office in HR and finance functions, understanding that they don’t just have internal customers and processes to follow and systems to fulfil. They are there fulfilling a function that supports the business delivering what the customer wants. And I think unless you can create that customer culture that proliferates right through the business, and almost an approach I’ve taken a couple of times is to start with a bat. I once started with IT. Start with a bucket Office function and explain to them the role that they play in delivering frontline customer service. Unless you can reach that level of acceptance in the organisation you will always struggle. So I think what you need to be striving for is A. to be able to be clear and articulate what customer culture means for your business. And that should be different for every organisation. But also be very clear about within different teams roles and responsibilities, what the good stuff is that contributes positively to that culture and what the bad stuff is that takes away and detracts from that culture is.

Simon – Practically does that, does that look like getting these different groups of people together in a room and going right, let’s get everyone’s perspective on how we influence and impact the customer. And when you’ve done that, I’m presuming those kind of exercises if that’s the way that you’ve typically done it Ben and imagine that or throw up a load of things you know, on a board and loads of great, great ideas, but how do you get those groups of people to then prioritise that over all of the other things that they’re been told to do, you know cut costs, hit this target, you know, hit this deadline, whatever that might be.

Ben – Sure. So I think Well, I’ll tell you what we what we did at Lightfoot as a recent real example, which was start off with with a phrase that that we all liked, which I think, you know, Mark CEO and repeat the MD, share this phrase customer first with me which which is, which is a pretty, pretty obvious one. And my observation was great phrase, like it, but unless we can articulate what that means for people in the roles that they play is going to be really difficult, really difficult to define. So we started off by, you know, writing a, you know, a nice strategic, quite fair real piece that fit on fits on half a size of a for the, that we can share internally and with our customer base, and that’s great, but actually, that’s the easy bit, kind of because that’s just like coming up with a  dream really of where you want to get to the much tougher part is sitting people down in groups and explaining what we’re trying to achieve and actually getting them to buy into what does this customer vision? What does that mean for you and your team in the engineering department or within HR, or within finance or within the IT department or within the Customer Support Centre? What does that mean for you and your team, and we then created a set of principles, which I didn’t do, and the leadership didn’t do, the teams themselves came up with the things that they would commit to doing and the things that they would commit to not doing because then you it impacted adversely on customer culture. And we basically put that in a big book, got everybody to sign up to it for their teams. So, different parts of the organisation therefore have different principles that they will live and breathe. And I think your other your other part of the question was about how do you prioritise that and I think, if you’re having to prioritise it over Other things, you’ve kind of got it wrong because I think, yes, we’re operating efficiently. But actually, our customers want us to be efficient too, because they want to pay, frankly, as little as possible for the best quality service. So we have to deliver it efficiently. So if we’re not delivering efficiently, then we’re not giving our customers what they need in the first place.

Matt – So people, I guess, understand where they fit in the journey and the value they can add. I guess a struggle that I’ve experienced is around, how do you keep the discipline of the people to keep referencing back or remembering what they’re kind of trying to do have you’ve got any tactics or approaches you’ve used to kind of have people on so to speak?

Ben – Yeah, sure. So we I mean, we check in on it pretty pretty regularly as an organisation. We’ll touch on it on it weekly in in a company wide organisation and team meetings, team meetings that we have, we do some daft stuff like run a customer first competition so that there’s a there’s a very inexpensive and very Plastic trophy for the organisation that actually we were just discussing two days ago, where, where we’ve done a bit of a bit of a bit of a shuffle there’s two guys, David and JP who have that trophy at the moment. And they were joking that the only reason that they’ve been brought into their new team is because new team wanted their trophy. So it treated some some genuine, genuine competition or interest in it. And I think the other thing you have to do is be able to measure the success of what we’re doing. And that’s not just about measuring NPS, I don’t think having measured might be it might be a separate topic, but you’ve got to be able to judge where you are on on on that journey. I think the most fundamental thing that we did at life at though was get buy in for customer support at board level and we have kind of adherence to the customer first, customer first culture and the charter, absolutely squarely sat in the centre of the company’s 2020 vision, which was that the vision that we that we laid out for For this year and beyond.

Simon – It sounds like you’re your chief exec and and your other board members aware you will now Ben get it? Which I would imagine it’s half the battle. They kind of understand it. I’m sure you’ve you’ve had some influence over that. But how do you I mean, for me this we talked again about this endlessly and other other podcasts. But coming back to this contentious point do leaders as in the CEOs and the, you know, the the people at the very top of the business truly care about this stuff or whether it’s lip service, I think varies wildly from business to business. What what’s your perspective then,

Ben – Do you want my honest view?

Simon – Yes, very much. So.

Ben – I think in western organisations and corporates, generally, they care up to a point. I don’t think they care about about customer culture, and customer centricity as much as organisations care about profit and fulfilling the needs of shareholders generally, of course, there are some obvious examples where, where what I’ve just said is not true. And I think there are some, there are some big organisations that do really well at customer service and perhaps a little bit lesser recently, but certainly in the past, Amazon have blown my mind in the way that they’ve dealt with individual personal customer issues that that that I’ve raised with them. And they’ve built a lot of loyalty because of that. And I think I think that’s true. I, I think ultimately, all organisations care about, about customer culture and customer centricity. But my observation is that some of those organisations care about it a bit too late, when you know when things are going to slide in the wrong way, and they have missed an opportunity to focus on customers and therefore actually improve their own bottom line by building me You mentioned the halo halo brand, at the start at the start of this podcast and I think you can create a reputation and a differentiation And the brand in itself by focusing on your customers, and certainly we’re seeing it in life within our organisation more than ever this year with COVID-19, and the pressures that that has put all organisations under just the NIT, you know, by being flexible and doing some, you know, collaborative thinking with our customers about how we can make stuff work, and how we can approach commercials slightly differently isn’t something that we wanted to do, necessarily, but it’s certainly buying us a lot of goodwill.

Matt – Well, just on that same theme, really, I think, a lot of organisation from why if you don’t actually track it, so it’s very hard for them to prove that it’s adding that value. So when the crunch comes, people say, Well, actually, let’s not worry about that too much. But if you’ve got some great examples like Amazon and the, in your own examples that you’ve used, you can actually prove that CX is the differentiator, the thing that drives your growth, and I think you’ll feel better case studies from different organisations, it might be a lot easier sale or might get better understanding from these boards to actually lead with it.

Ben – I know, I do think that’s a challenge. And there’s one aspect of this whole topic where I do not have a silver bullet that that fixes the scenario in all organisations, it frankly, is less tangible and harder to measure than, than some other aspects of aspects of business. You know, how easy is it to measure that just by training people in a customer support team to be themselves and use friendly language and not be afraid to interact differently with different customers and use their judgement a bit. For example, how easy is it to measure whether that is actually making a difference to up selling or customer retention? It’s a tough thing to do sometimes, but I think there’s other there’s other things that you can measure more tangibly to make sure that you are on track and delivering the culture that you’ve set out to deliver.

Simon – I think you’re right, but I think it all comes down to trust for me. Trusting your people but also trusting instinctively that if you do this sort of stuff, and you do really value, customer experience and customer service, the other things will follow. And, you know, no one really ever lost loads of money or, you know, what wasn’t didn’t create successful business by looking after their customers. And it’s kind of inherently part of it, isn’t it? But also, I think, you know, we’ve got to flip the, as much as we can say on this, or I can say on this podcast or companies don’t, don’t value customer experience as much as they should, you know, business is there to make profits or, you know, usually that’s the kind of core driver and we’ve got to do a better job as CX professionals of finding those links as hard as they are between, you know, that customer experience and the kind of bottom line. It is really tough. I mean, there is so few examples that I’m seeing out there but it’s a bit chicken and egg as well, I think because the leadership has to kind of give people the room to be able to try it and create that evidence. And I think that’s often lost because there’s other easier measurable things that take priority.

Ben – I don’t disagree that and and I guess that’s where I’ve I have seen organisations, organisations try pretty hard and get a long way down the line of customer focus and customer centricity and then pressure bites from shareholders from margin from just economic climate. And actually they they lose trust and faith in the CX piece because because it can’t be measured. I I also think that a lot of us CX professionals make a bit of a mistake in being too evangelical about customer experience sometimes. So you can go over the top, you know, I am not a big fan of trying to get everything perfect and and trying to delight customers at every single turn. I think there are places where customers want to be delighted. There are there are places in the customer journey where actually you will struggle to get return on investment for the extra effort, technology, time resource, whatever it is that you’re plugging in. So it’s about knowing within your own unique customer journeys, which touch points really matter, and where you can differentiate yourself above the competition that you that you face.

Matt – Again, Ben, that’s you talking from experience in terms of actually doing the customer journey mapping or the prey moving search. There’s still a lot of organisations I think that think they know their customer, or potential is not worth the worry.

Ben – Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve interestingly, as as you guys know, before, I joined Lightfoot was still running my own consultancy and one of the organisations which I won’t name that I was dealing with their leadership team, including the board. There were seven of them. I think in the leadership team. Only two of them had ever experienced their own organisation’s customer Service. I mean, yeah.

Simon – Well, that’s truly is astonishing. What’s your, what’s your perspective, in terms of where this is gonna take us in the future? As you’ve said, credibly turbulent, you know, world changing past few months, and companies quite often tend to knee jerk. Do you think they, as a whole will remain stoic around the value of customer experience or some will? Or do you think we’re going to get back to this kind of race to the bottom on price and products and those sorts of things again, I mean, is CX gonna get forgotten or, or parked for a little while.

Ben – I am being cautiously optimistic in that I just hope some of those lessons have been learned. I mean, I know that you referenced the issue of customer service. In my introduction, Joe and her team have got some fascinating data research, absolutely unequivocably proves the link between sustainability growth and customer satisfaction. It’s a fascinating read. And I hope that that is a bit more understood by the wider business community now. It’s, you know, it’s been a horrible year so far, hasn’t it? People on a personal perspective I and a business perspective and I think the only thing that we’re certain of is that the rest of this year, maybe next year is looking pretty uncertain. I think flexibility is the key word really, in that undoubtedly, businesses will need to change. Certainly I’d like for we’re going to be changing the way that we engage with customers. I think we’ve proved to ourselves that you can achieve an awful lot via this sort of communication online Of course, will still get out there and see our customers face to face when we need to because adds tremendous value. But I think we can change and operate in a different way. And that’s a more efficient way for us to operate so we can still maintain the great Level of service but but but still be more more efficient going forward. I think it would be a mistake for any organisation right now to set their stall out and delivering any single kind of CX customer service, programme of work, but just be flexible and keep that customer vision that you’ve got that you’ve got got in your strategy. Trust in that and keep it close to your heart because I think there is always more than one way to skin a cat. It might be, you know, different people doing different things. I think organisations will have to change but I think it would be sad, foolhardy and dangerous to forget the customer’s place in those changes and include your customers could collaborate with them, you know, share some of the things that you’re thinking about and get some feedback, see if it works for them or not.

Matt – Yeah, I think we did an interesting piece recently actually was Sabio, a white paper that came out and talked about what people organisations have to do CX so there was a sentiment that they were going to double down on that. So it will be interesting to see. And to your point, the better out flexibility to be able to adapt. That’s another thing that a lot of them are talking about. I think typically they’d work in that waterfall methodology in that, right? That’s what we want to do. Whereas now the thinking, right, How can we be agile to that business change? So let’s we’ll, we’ll see from our side, whether that’s what customers start to do as well.

Ben – Indeed, and I think, Simon, you and I, and Matty yourself, we’ve chatted before a bit about about insight and of course, customer insight, getting that voice of the customer is hugely important. It absolutely is. But I still see some really rubbish attempts at customer insight. And just I just don’t think that many organisations actually A. ask themselves, what insight they’ve already got about, about their customers that they’re just not conscious of, you know, what what saying they’re seeing that CRM systems their customers told them in a in a, you know, in a complaint or what have they ordered? You know what, what insight exists already, I think we are too quick as an industry as a customer experience industry to jump to quite fancy and expensive insight campaigns and sending out emails and trying to do clever things using Survey Monkey before we actually are honest with ourselves about what the nuts and bolts of our customer insight should be. So I think things could change. And you could actually spend less money on some of this stuff and do a better job I think huge, huge opportunities for improvement.

Simon – Yeah, I agree. I agree. What do you think the, something we haven’t touched on actually, in the podcast is the role of the chief customer officer Ben. Is that is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are you are you pro the the chief customer officer role?

Ben – Yeah, of course, I’m always excited when I when I know, a customer chief. Yeah, CFO is, is in an organisation. I’ve seen some really successful success ones that I think I’ve also seen in treatment when you chat to some of the people in that role. And again, I won’t name names, but I was talking to Chief customer officer officer in a large organisation that that people would have heard of, who turns out he was chief customer officer, but he’s also responsible for for IT and business change. Well, hang on a minute. Yeah, I like that to be a really dedicated role that is going to sit at the boardroom and bang the table about customer. And of course, all boards have to make compromised decisions at times. But I think see if the chief customer officer absolutely fantastic as long as it’s a genuine, single focus.

Simon – It does seem like we’re getting a few more of those roles emerge yet, which I think is positive. I agree.

Ben – And I don’t really care The title is either I mean, I mean, there’s other people that I know that are doing Sterling work in organisations that are in fact acting as a chief customer officer. By being that customer champion, always they’ve got the the board and they do some fantastic work and taking colleagues on a journey with them, kind of without that title. So I’m more interested in and certainly as a consultant, I was more interested in the ownership and accountability of customer within an organisation is whether you’ve got somebody with a with a with a fancy job title and a nice suit.

Simon – Tough gig though, wrangling those, I mean, I think one of the criticisms of businesses is too many companies tend to focus on the channel or the function rather than thinking that that kind of complete customer journey from end to end, and I haven’t played or done that role, but I imagine wrangling those different functions together in in a way that tackles all of those elements of that journey must be credibly difficult.

Ben – I think it’s really difficult depending on your, on your starting point, if you’re coming into an organisation is quite mature, and has got existing processes existing systems and channels in place, it can be incredibly difficult. I mean, I, I have worked as a consultant with a number of organisations that literally say, hey, Ben, I know we need to do that, but we just cannot for all sorts of complicated reasons, you know, we can’t get rid of that part of that process, because that’s tied to that system there that’s on that server there. And it’s not going to, you know, reach end of life until year X, Y and Z and therefore now now is just not the time.

Matt – It would be interesting to go back to them now, post COVID to see how quickly did you change.

Ben – Exactly, exactly. I was talking to somebody, only a couple of days ago that we’re talking about how they’ve managed to get a large seat contact centre all working from home in less than two weeks. And we were joking and saying that If you’ve planned that, as a programme of work, it would have taken a year or more, at least, but one of the positives that I’m clinging on to from this year is that is that Necessity is the mother of mother of invention you touched on on innovation earlier. And certainly with it within Lightfoot, we are always focused on innovation because we’re in that sector where we have to innovate to keep, keep our customers on site, and we’re always innovating to do the next thing that will make our customers want to come back to us. But I think if organisations can learn anything from this mess that we’re in right now, globally, is now is the time to innovate and do things do things differently to meet the demands of your customers.

Simon – Hmm. Yeah, hear, hear. Absolutely. But let’s just go back to when we’re gonna have to wrap up shortly. But I’m, I’m intrigued. And I want to dig into a bit more. Some of the experiences you’ve had of convincing frontline people that aren’t customer people. Customer service type people, I’m thinking your your engineers, your technicians, those sorts of people. Let’s finish with some kind of heartening stories because I, I’ve had a little bit of experience doing this working in the housing sector. And actually fantastic people. You know, if you get the proper time with them, I really embrace it really like it. You know, talking about customer experience, and very quickly make the connection. You must have had similar experiences, I’m sure.

Ben – Oh, yeah, definitely. And actually, I think people right on the frontline, the engineers that are out there, day in day out in that coalface environment, be it you know working in the public on the street or in the housing sector, you’ve just referenced working other people’s homes. They tend to, in my experience, get it quite quickly. Very few people turn up wanting to do a bad job every day. I’ve met one or two that clearly did have that as an intention, but that’s a different story. Most people want to do do a great job and actually they just don’t feel supported. And when you start to one of the things I’ve done a couple of times in previous lives is, is kind of carry out what I call a customer health check, really. And you talk to those people and their and their line managers about what sort of culture is in place and you probe on the skill sets that are required. And then you probe on Well, what support do we give people? How do we measure it? We give people regular feedback about about customer experience, haven’t provided any training. Do your people know how to escalate? Or do you as an engineer know how to escalate? If you get the sense that customers are unhappy? Quite often, that’s the stuff that’s missing is the process and backup stuff. And once you get that in place, it tends to take care of itself quite quickly. I think the biggest challenge I’ve had is that I could go out with one of my team members who would be able to talk frontline language, do some training, explain what’s in it for the operatives in the front line, explain what’s in it for the organisation sell that bigger picture. And they get it on day one, but then two weeks later if their line manager has only beaten them up about time spent on a job or health and safety as important that that is or you know, time spent off a break whatever the metric is, they’re only focused on those productivity star metrics which can happen quite a lot. And of course, they’re gonna forget it and revert to what to back to previous behaviours. So it has to cascade all levels and she’s why defining your culture and picking a set of metrics that allow you to genuinely measure where you are on that culture journey is so important. But I have had some you know, lovely stories of I literally, you know, got told in in one briefing session to an engineer What What a load of rubbish I was talking and how you know, I’m not I’m not here to, to serve service the customer and six months later, that guy emailed me just to say that he’d actually applied For and being given a role that was now in the customer service function that he worked with, because he just kind of realised that actually solving customers problems is quite rewarding. And it was a change of tack for him. So yeah, you get some fantastic results. Most people want to do a great job. They really do, but it’s our job as leaders to support them. I don’t think we always do that.

Simon – Yeah. Bang on, bang on. Hey, Ben, we could talk about this long into the afternoon, but we are going to have to wrap up shortly. As you know, from listening, we try and leave the the the podcast listeners with some hopefully some tips, some ideas, some things to think about. After the after the podcast. Is there anything you can suggest? I mean, on this theme of creating a customer first culture, is there anything that springs to mind? I mean, you’ve you know, you’ve lived and breathed this. Any recommendations?

Ben – Yeah, I think it’s probably gonna be stuff that we repeated, but maybe that’s a nice summary for the podcast. I think in terms of creating a customer first culture, you’ve got to be honest with yourselves about what that what that means. And you’ve got to be able to translate it from an ethereal vision into what you want people to do. Because if you don’t do that it’s open to interpretation and you’ll get varying degrees of success, success and buying. You’ve got to do it collaboratively in my eyes with that there’s been no point in me is that as a customer service leader, just telling people what to do, I think, co create with your, with your workforce and your colleagues and get them to buy into it, and get them to suggest how they can support your vision as the customer experience leader in supporting that culture, measuring it then is absolutely crucial. So certainly, at Lightfoot, we’ve taken aspects of our customer first vision and we’re measuring that in people’s appraisals and Performance Monitor monitoring that but measuring those things, those things is absolutely key and you cannot just rely on Customer satisfaction, although it’s hugely important, like customer effort, how easy are we to do business with that? That’s a useful one. NPS works brilliantly in some organisations, but I think he’s overused honestly. I mean, I, I’ve been very vocal about about this previously there will be again, the water industry, for example, as you will know is, is the moment is privatised in a way that you can’t really choose your supplier. So there is no choice. Therefore, what is the point in asking a question? I you know, would you recommend Thames Water to your neighbour? What’s the point there’s no choice. So I think and I don’t mean to pick on Thames water, particular I worked with them previously, and they’re a fantastic organisation. But where there’s no choice, NHS I had a net promoter questionnaire from my local hospital when my son broke his ankle what’s the point I can’t go anywhere else can I. Anyway, so measuring the right things in terms of really important stuff to measure linked in to customer first culture, measure your employees attitudes to customer and measure it carefully because it’s the it’s the engagement from your people that will make the difference.

Simon – Very well said Sir. Very well said and a great way to to wrap up. Marty, do you want to chip in with anything on your end?

Matt – I just think from my perspective nobody’s improving the customer experience purely for the sake of it. And I think Ben talked about the needs to be strategic objectives, whether it’s top line growth, increase guest purchase frequency, etc, etc. And if you don’t have that, you ain’t going to deliver it. So yeah, really interesting insight from you Ben I’ve enjoyed the session.

Simon – It’s been a good one really good one. Ben, thank you so much for joining us, mate. And we are gonna stick your LinkedIn profile on the on the social for this podcast. Is that all right with you? So if people reach out and say hello?

Ben – That’ll be a fascinating reach for everybody, I’m sure.

Simon – No, I would urge you to, um, you know, we’re trying to encourage community And, and people reaching out. And we discovered the other day, Ben that we have listeners from all over the world from as far afield as Japan and Israel and all sorts of places so well, so hopefully and you know, if we can encourage a level of community, people might reach out and say hello and pick your brain Ben so, so we’ll put your details on there, as ever, a big thank you to our listeners for joining us, and we’d love to get your feedback, topic ideas, comments, you may not agree with what we said. And as you know, Matt, and I have always, you know, started this podcast by saying that we’re not the experts. You know, we have opinions, but we might not be right. So if you have alternative views, please do let us know. And Ben Have you enjoyed it?

Ben – I have it’s been it’s always an interesting topic to talk about. And it’s always nice to talk to you both, too. So thank you very much for having me.

Simon – You’ve been an absolute pleasure, Ben. So thank you for joining us. Matt. It’s been a good one.

Matt – Yeah, enjoyed it.

Simon – Good stuff. Alright guys. Well, thank you ever so much. To everyone else listening and thank you very much for tuning in. Be safe. Take care and until next time, goodbye.

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