CX in the C-Suite: Webinar With Mercedes-Benz CEO

1410_CXfromCSuiteMBUSAAs part of Customer Experience Day, I interviewed Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) CEO Steve Cannon on a CXPA.org webinar called Customer Experience from the C-Suite. Cannon was energetic and informative in describing how MBUSA has infused a strong sense of CX across its organization as well as across the company’s network of 375 dealership franchisees.

One of the highlights of the webinar was when Cannon said that “customer experience is the new marketing” and is critical for fulfilling MBUSA’s brand promise, The Best or Nothing.

Here are some other highlights and lessons from the webinar:

  • The CEO plays a critical role in CX. Cannon was clear on the role of the CEO in driving CX across the organization. “If the CEO doesn’t take CX personally, he’s not going to be able to convince people that it isn’t just the flavor of the month.” He called himself the “Chief conversation starter” and “Chief Evangelist.” Cannon mentioned that CX is a topic in every single town hall and when he visits a facility, he says, “Don’t give me a facility tour, give me a customer experience tour.” (Related: CX Mistake #1: Faking Executive Commitment).
  • Change takes focused leadership. Cannon pointed out that historically; CX resided in too many siloes (sales, marketing, presales, etc) across MBUSA. One of the first thing Steve did was reorganize around CX, carve CX out of different business units and put them together in one unit with a General Manager who reports directly to him. (Related: State of CX Management, 2014).
  • Alignment is well worth the investment of time. When CX became the MBUSA’s main objective, the executive team went offsite and spent two days debating and critically examining the organization’s CX—where they were coming from and where they were going. This meeting incorporated the voices of General Managers into MBUSA’s CX plans, making them what Cannon called “co-architects.” Afterwards, Cannon held similar meeting with the next two levels of leaders across the company. (Related: WL Gore Succeeds Without Employees).
  • It all starts with employee engagement. Cannon said that Employee Engagement is a precursor to CX. Cannon stated that “MBUSA is committed to investing in people because they are the only ones who can create great CX.” And Cannon is investing in this area. He discussed the company’s Immersion Program. Over the next few years, 26,000 employees will visit the MBUSA plant in Alabama and go through a learning journey that includes driving cars and visiting the company’s brand center. (Related: The Untapped Value of Employee Engagement (Infographic)).
  • CX is about culture, not a veneer. Cannon mentioned that great leaders create culture that creates great customer experience. That’s why Cannon is so proud of MBUSA leadership academy. He said that CX is in the DNA of the MBUSA, and is its higher calling. (Related: Driving Customer Experience Transformation, Made Simple).
  • Satisfaction isn’t enough.” Cannon stated that any company can satisfy customers just by operational excellence and performing a transaction right. Instead of satisfaction, MBUSA wants to delight To measure this objective, MBUSA is changing its metrics to include Net Promoter Score within a basket of other metrics. (Related: Customer Effort, Net Promoter, And Thoughts About CX Metrics).
  • Engage your channel partners. Cannon was clear that dealers have the ability to amplify, accentuate, or marginalize everything MBUSA does. He explained that 2.5 points out of the 5.5 points of performance bonus that dealers can earn are related to delivering great customer experience, which results in a $40 million customer experience payout across dealers. Cannon was proud of the “Drive a Start Home” program that provides dealer employees with a Mercedes-Benz to drive for two days. (Related: Our B2B content plus an upcoming report on B2B2C CX).

Check out last year’s webinar with Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint.

The bottom line: CX leaderships requires executive leaders like Steve Cannon.

Lesson From Dana-Farber: Treat The Whole Person

As part of yesterday’s Customer Experience Day celebration, I attended a CXPA local networking event at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston. The session kicked off with a panel from the DFCI discussing patient experience.

I’m a big fan of DFCI and have enormous respect for the great work that it does in battling cancer. The panel, which included a cancer survivor turned volunteer, was fantastic. I was inspired by the commitment and compassion they displayed.

One of the points that came up was DFCI’s commitment to treat the whole person. This explains why it provides things such as hand massages during chemotherapy treatment. DFCI doesn’t just treat the disease, it treats the whole person.

I love the concept of the whole person. It’s not just applicable to DFCI or other health care providers, but to every organization. It’s a powerful concept for anyone who cares about customer experience.

Here’s how I think about the whole person:

  • Emotion, not just success. DFCI doesn’t have data showing that hand massages will result in better clinical outcomes. It knows that a patient’s positive medical outcome is important, but it’s not enough. Your customers are the same. You need to understand, care about, and actively design for your customers’ emotional states.
  • Goals, not just interactions. A chemotherapy patient is battling cancer, not just getting treatment. When customers interact with you, it’s often part of a broader goal. A customer who calls to change her address, for instance, probably has a life change going on that dwarfs the need to update your administrative systems. The better you can understand and cater to these larger goals, the more opportunity you will have to build loyalty.
  • Community, not just individuals. One of DFCI’s key elements for helping patients is supporting their caregivers. These people are a critical element of the patient’s medical journey. Your organization needs to understand the role that community plays in your customers’ lives. How can you help your customers achieve their goals by supporting key members in their personal ecosystems?
  • Caring, not just doing. DFCI doesn’t just mandate a set of explicit activities that define how people should focus on the whole person, it consistently reinforces the importance of this focus in achieving DFCI’s mission. It gets employees and volunteers to care about these elements, not just follow a bunch of directions. You need to help employees understand why the whole person is important, and spark their natural capabilities for caring.

I hope that you are inspired to drive your organization towards focusing on the whole person. Here are a few tools that should help:

The bottom line: Start focusing on the whole person!

The Untapped Value of Employee Engagement (Infographic)

We created this infographic called “The Untapped Value of Employee Engagement” with some of our employee engagement research.

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If you like the infographic, then here are some other download formats that are made for prinintg:

You can find the referenced research on our Employee Engagement Resource Page.

The bottom line: Companies need to focus more on employee engagement Read more of this post

Report: Social Employee Engagement

1407_Social Employee Engagement_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Social Employee Engagement. The research shows best practices for infusing social tools into employee engagement efforts. Here’s the executive summary:

Temkin Group research shows that engaged employees are valuable assets. They try harder at work, are less likely to look for a new job, and feel more committed to helping the company succeed. We found that companies with stronger employee engagement competencies are more likely to use social tools as part of their internal efforts than other companies. For best results, companies should introduce these social capabilities into their employee engagement plans to enhance what we call the “Five I’s of Employee Engagement”: Inform, Inspire, Instruct, Involve, and Incent. We interviewed 17 companies for this report, including EMC, Fidelity Investments, Houlihan’s, Humana, Oracle, SunTrust Bank, TELUS, and USAA, and identified more than 20 best practices enabled by social tools. We also added a checklist to help organizations introduce social tools to employees.

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The report identifies best practices for using social tools across the 5 I’s of Employee Engagement:

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The bottom line: Tap into social tools to engage employees

CX Fallacy #8: Middle Managers Are Obstacles

10CXFallacies4I recently discussed how organizations that want to improve their customer experience will need to evolve from superficial changes (fluff) to operational transformation (tough). As part of making this shift from fluff to tough, companies will need to shed some of popular myths and fallacies about CX. These myths may hold true in early stage of maturity, but they fall flat as organizations expand their CX efforts. To help in the process, I’ve assembled the top 10 CX Fallacies.

CX Fallacy #8: Middle Managers Are Obstacles

When we ask executives about which groups of employees are the toughest to change, they almost always point to middle managers. Front-line employees are willing to shift their activities when they see that it will help customers, and executives are often pretty easy to entice on to the CX bandwagon. So it’s easy to view middle managers as a problem.

But middle managers aren’t obstacles, they’re the the backbone to stability within an organization. If you want to create sustainable change, then they are a critical building block. Rather than viewing this employee group as a problem, treat them as the guardians of your success and activate them as part of your efforts.

Here are some recommendations for shedding this fallacy:

  • View your success through the eyes of middle managers. When you’re rolling out changes, don’t consider these efforts as being successful until your middle managers are fully on board. This may take some extra work, but the initial investment in time and effort will pay dividends in the speed and consistency of the ultimate roll out of the change.
  • Create group of middle manager ambassadors. identify a set of influential middle managers to provide guidance on company efforts and to promote new ideas with their peers. They may recommend slowing down some efforts, but those activities weren’t likely to succeed anyway.
  • Actively gather feedback from middle managers. Look for ways to collect feedback from middle managers, whether its analyzing their responses in employee-wide surveys or by targeting this group directly.
  • Track engagement levels of middle managers. All companies should understand the engagement levels of employees. If you use a measurement such as Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Index, then segment the results to identify the engagement level of middle managers compared with other groups. This can be a great leading indicator for the company.
  • Train middle managers to support change efforts. Whenever you are driving change in your organization, make sure to put together specific training to help middle managers support the efforts.

The bottom line: Don’t complain about middle managers, activate them.

Report: State of Employee Engagement Activities, 2014

Purchase reportWe just published a Temkin Group report, State of Employee Engagement Activities, 2014. This is the second year that we’ve benchmarked the employee engagement efforts within large organizations. Here’s the executive summary:

Although engaged employees are a vital component of any successful organization, we have found that only 50% of employees at large organizations feel engaged. To understand how companies are working to improve these engagement levels, we surveyed executives from more than 200 large organizations. We found that frontline employees are the most engaged, and that while most firms do measure employee engagement, less than half prioritize taking actions based on the results. The lack of a clear employee engagement strategy contributes to the fact that only 19% of companies earned a strong or very strong score on the Temkin Group Employee Engagement Competency Assessment. Employee engagement leaders enjoy stronger financial results and deliver better customer experience than employee engagement laggards, and they also have more coordinated engagement activities, more empowered CX teams, and more committed executives. Compared to 2013, this year more companies have significant employee engagement activities, but overall these activities are performed less frequently. Use our assessment and data to benchmark your employee engagement competencies and maturity.

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Here are results from companies that completed Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Competency and Maturity Assessment::

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The bottom line: Companies need to pay more attention to employee engagement

Nadella Pushes Microsoft to Rediscover Its Soul

In a letter to all Microsoft employees called Starting FY15 – Bold Ambition & Our Core, CEO Satya Nadella established a mandate and vision for significant change across the technology behemoth.

Microsoft has great assets, but it has not kept up with changes in how people use technology. The Redmond giant was becoming increasingly less relevant in a world where digital technology is becoming more relevant.

Microsoft has needed to change for a while. There’s a saying that the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago and the second best time is right now. Nadella has made it clear that Microsoft’s time for change is right now.

My take: First of all, it’s hard to talk about any large-scale culture change without recommending that people review our model called Employee-Engaging Transformation, which is built on five practices: Vision Translation, Persistent LeadershipActivated Middle ManagementGrassroots Mobilization and Captivating Communications.

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We work with many of the world’s leading technology companies, so I could go on and on about what changes are necessary at Microsoft. But I’d rather examine broader lessons from Nadella’s letter. Here are some excerpts that I thought were particularly valuable to discuss:

“...in order to accelerate our innovation, we must rediscover our soul – our unique core

Successful companies almost always start with a strong raison d’être, but it can get lost as the company grows and the world changes (see my post on Starbucks). Without a “soul,” companies drift along as employees across the organization start operating in a disconnected way. This is where the brand comes in. Companies need to constantly refresh their brands and make sure that the brand drives decisions across the organization (see my post on Walmart).

More recently, we have described ourselves as a “devices and services” company. .. At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

Our research shows that employees are more productive and engaged when they are inspired by their organization’s mission. Which one of these statements do you think is more inspiring: “We are the devices and service company” or “We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

“We will create more natural human-computing interfaces that empower all individuals.”

This is a comment about technology, but its also points to a broader commentary about making things easy to use. We have entered into a world where people have more options, more distraction, and less patience. Every organization needs to relentlessly focus on making their products, services, and processes easier for customers to use.

Obsessing over our customers is everybody’s job. I’m looking to the engineering teams to build the experiences our customers love.

What’s not to love about this excerpt. My customer experience manifesto (and Temkin Group, for that matter) is built on a fundamental belief that sustaining great customer experience is not about applying a veneer, but about building competencies across the entire organization that create great experiences for customers (see our four CX core competencies). Also, it’s interesting that Nadella used the word “love.” Experiences are made up of three component (functional, accessible, and emotional) and our Temkin Experience Ratings show that companies are weakest at driving the emotional component. To get people to “love” your company, I suggest applying what we call People-Centric Experience Design.

“I am committed to making Microsoft the best place for smart, curious, ambitious people to do their best work.”

One of the Six Laws of Customer Experience is that unengaged employees can’t create engaged customers. Any company looking to improve how it interacts with customers almost certainly needs to focus on its employees.

“We will be more effective in predicting and understanding what our customers need and more nimble in adjusting to information we get from the market.”

How companies use customer insights is changing rapidly. Technologies such as text analytics and predictive analytics are helping companies tap into more comprehensive and ongoing insights, rather than relying on periodic customer surveys. Ultimately, companies will need to reinvent their operating frameworks so that they can adjust more frequently to take advantage of these rapidly-flowing insights.

Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy.”

This type of statement only works if it’s backed up by clear actions that employees can observe. These “symbols” of change need to be clear departures from how the company operated in the past, and can include reorganizations, firings/hirings/promotions/demotions, killing projects, accelerating projects, etc.). Don’t just say change is coming, demonstrate it (see the 3 characteristics of transformational leaders).

“We must each have the courage to transform as individuals. We must ask ourselves, what idea can I bring to life? What insight can I illuminate? What individual life could I change? What customer can I delight? What new skill could I learn? What team could I help build? What orthodoxy should I question?”

The notion of a personal challenge is a great way to help employees think about how they can be (and must be) a part of the change. But the questions won’t be too powerful if they are just statements in a letter from the CEO. Use these questions as part of discussions across the organization and embed them into leadership training and competency models.

 The bottom line: Change isn’t easy, but Microsoft seems ready to give it a try.

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