In the same way that all management is change management, all of the customer’s experiences are also cultural experiences. In every encounter, the customer is interacting with both the foundation and the quicksand that comprise the nature or culture of the business. The foundation will be those moving parts that function well, whilst the quicksand represents those areas where the ball is always being dropped.
Culture is basically, “how we do things around here.” Because it’s baked into the character and operating structure of a business, it shapes the state of customer experience and directs, almost in an invisible way, how the day’s service delivery curriculum will unfold. Sadly, it’s a powerful, but overlooked influencer of how well or how poorly customers are treated.
In the same way that all management is change management, all of the customer’s experiences are also cultural experiences.
We’ve heard the statement, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Well, I believe that a business should create its culture through strategy and further, should ensure that the culture is aligned to the vision, values and goals of the business. Without this logical connection, a business is destined to experience turbulence, with the level of motion sickness affecting ultimately, the quality of its service delivery.
When a business has a culture that is built around a clear strategy that makes good sense, its efforts tend to be more congruent with the need to sustain its relevance in the marketplace. In today’s world of business, cultures that are congruent with innovation, adaptability, agility, flexible thinking and therefore, change-friendliness, will stand out from cultures that are stuck in stagnation mode. Malleability facilitates congruence between what’s going on inside, with what’s going on outside of the business.
Changing the culture to ensure that there are no fault lines between the business and its customers, is highly recommended.
A flexible culture is far more beneficial than one that is fixed.
As I mentioned earlier, the state of its culture defines significantly, the state of service delivery and customer experience being delivered by a business. Changing the culture to ensure that there are no fault lines between the business and its customers, is highly recommended.
But what if a business has a culture that repels change, where going kicking and screaming is its default response? How does the business begin to reverse this modality?
Let me suggest a three-pronged approach that a business can adopt that blends the change process with the culture impacting process. Firstly, consider the consequences of being unresponsive to change. Secondly, relax some of the existing interpersonal rigidities. Finally, introduce the change strategy, whilst capitalizing on the momentum created by the dopamine and serotonin released in the second phase.
It’s useful for a business to start its journey by considering the cost and consequences of being unresponsive or under-responsive to change.
It’s useful for a business to start its journey by considering the cost and consequences of being unresponsive or under-responsive to change. This is an exercise designed to provoke a sense of urgency, given the possibility of dire outcomes. For a business that’s committed to achieving cultural change, a wake-up call and call-to-action, are the typical responses to the cost and consequence consideration.
My next suggestion is for the business to focus on shifting the internal human experience by creating activities that release dopamine and serotonin (feel good chemicals in the body) across the entire employee population. When people begin to engage in social and interactive activities, some of the cultural rigidities are relaxed. In one culture change intervention, I encouraged a client to allow each of its departments to design a teambuilding activity that would benefit the entire organization.
My next suggestion is for the business to focus on shifting the internal human experience by creating activities that release dopamine and serotonin (feel good chemicals in the body) across the entire employee population.
It was amazing to witness how departments embraced creative energies to break barriers and build connections across the organization. One of the boosters for this project was the fact that each department had the autonomy to create its own activity. Employees loved this level of independence.
The last part of this trilogy involves capitalizing on two outcomes generated by the momentum of the previous activities….urgency and motivation. This sets the scene for releasing a formal change process that should be strategic, scientific and structured. Of course, the change process will now invoke everything from leadership transformation, to employee engagement, to process re-engineering and every relevant action in between. One caution though. Deliberate action should be taken to ensure that previous gains are not neutralized by poor execution of the change process.
When culture changes for the better, the customer experience follows suit.
When culture changes for the better, the customer experience follows suit. A culture of innovation sparks and rewards on-spot problem solving, a culture of agility sparks responsiveness to customers’ needs, while a culture of engagement promotes employee eagerness to serve.
We need to handle the business of culture carefully. Why? Because a business gets a culture it allows.