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.

 

Modernize Leadership: Learn and Adjust

ML_LearnAdjust2In a previous post, I described how today’s management techniques reflect outdated assumptions of technology-enabled practices, human behavior, and the meaning of success. That’s why organizations must shift to what I’m calling Modernize Leadership.

I’m writing individual posts for each of the eight key changes required to modernize leadership. In this post, I’m examining the shift from:

Strategize and Plan to Learn and Adjust

Here’s some more information to better understand this shift:

Outdated Thinking
Here are some ways in which leaders must change how they view the world:

  • Leaders spend a lot of time with their leadership teams fine-tuning precise strategies and laying out high level plans, hoping that their Powerpoint slides will come to life throughout their organizations. Unfortunately, employees need to make adjustments in order to operationalize elements of any strategy. As a result, many strategies and plans fall apart when those adjustments don’t live up to the original plans. Sometimes leaders can force their organizations to initially come close to delivering on their strategies, but there’s no way to consistently live up to those expectations.
  • Leaders amass a lot of information to develop their strategies and plans. Unfortunately, the information they use to make those decisions can often change between the time that they make decisions and when things get rolled out. The pace of change is accelerating in most industries, which shortens the useful lifecycle of the analysis that leads to decisions.
  • The improving technology for collecting data and doing analysis is making it easier to more frequently understand what’s happening in most organizations. This makes it much easier to make decisions more frequently, instead of waiting until the annual strategy cycle.

As Winston Churchill once said:

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

Modernized Leadership Actions
Here are some ways in which leaders should act based on a modernized perspective:

  • Increase strategic planning frequency. If you make most of your important strategic decisions once a year, then you’re likely losing connection with the marketplace. At least make key strategic decisions on a quarterly basis, and look to get it monthly. The shortened cycles will push you to make learn and adjust a continuous activity.
  • Test, test, test. Instead of blindly executing on a large strategic plan that defines a single direction, you need to be constantly experimenting with multiple, smaller ideas. But don’t start this process unless you are committed to actively learn from them and adjust your activities.
  • Embrace failures. As you become more nimble in your decision making, you’ll be making more decisions which will lead to a larger number of smaller failures. In most cases, there’s a lot that you can learn from things that don’t work out the way you expected. You have to create a thirst for learning from these situations, and keep from looking for blame.
  • Double-down on successes. Part of being better at learning and adjusting is the ability to invest (time, energy, capital, etc) on ideas that appear to have strong potential. You need to be prepared to more aggressively shift resources to activities that show promise, even if it means more quickly closing down some other activities.

The bottom line: You need to learn and adjust more frequently.

Modernize Leadership: Engage and Empower

ML_EngageEmpower

In a previous post, I described how today’s management techniques reflect outdated assumptions of technology-enabled practices, human behavior, and the meaning of success. That’s why organizations must shift to what I’m calling Modernize Leadership.

I’m writing individual posts for each of the eight key changes required to modernize leadership. In this post, I’m examining the shift from:

Command and Control to Engage and Empower

Here’s some more information to better understand this shift:

Outdated Thinking
Here are some ways in which leaders must change how they view the world:

  • Leaders focus on assets such as products, customers, and cash, but don’t fully recognize the true value of employees. In many cases, employees are THE critical asset. As a matter of fact, engaged employees are the start to a virtuous cycle that leads to better financial results. It’s no surprise that companies that significantly outperform their peers financially have 1.6-times the number of engaged employees than do companies that underperform their peers.
  • Leaders often act as though the success and failure of their business is based solely on the decisions being made by their most senior people, so they focus a large portion of their time and energy on developing and vetting strategies. But all too often, strategies fail because of a lack of support and follow-through by employees who are unaware of what needs to be done, unable to do what it takes, or unwilling to support the change.
  • Leaders often respond to problems by putting in place new processes and stricter rules, while there is no ongoing mechanism for removing or simplifying those elements. Over time, the organization gets bloated with so many rules and regulations that employees feel little ownership for the success of the company. And the company loses its ability to adjust to new situations.

Southwest Airline’s founder and former CEO Herb Kelleher captured thinking about Engage and Empower when he said:

“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.”

Modernized Leadership Actions
Here are some ways in which leaders should act based on a modernized perspective:

  • Influence better decisions. Leaders need to be less focused on the small number of decisions that they make, and more focused on the myriad of decisions that they influence across their organizations. How can you help employees make better decisions?
  • Measure employee engagement. If you measure other assets, why not employee engagement? But only do it if you plan on taking action on what you find. Consider using the Temkin Employee Engagement Index.
  • Master the Five I’s. How can you engage employees? Learn and master the five employee engagement competenciesInform, Inspire, Instruct, Involve, and Incent.
  • Assume positive intent. Instead of trying to keep employees from making mistakes by limiting their span of decision-making, find more ways to enable them to use more of their own judgement. Start by believing that your employees can (in almost all cases) be trusted—and train them.
  • Activate middle managers. It’s hard to get any group of employees to change their behavior when their managers are still reinforcing old processes, measurements, and beliefs. 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.

The bottom line: Engage and empower your employees.

Modernize Leadership: Steve Jobs Demonstrates Purpose and Values

wordle4bIn a recent post, I discussed how management practices have become outdated and that there’s a strong need to Modernize Leadership. This change requires eight distinct shifts in how we lead organizations.

I just ran into this great video of a speech that Steve Jobs gave in September 1997. It’s really worth watching. Jobs demonstrates a few of the elements that I discuss in Modernize Leadership, and in particular he does a great job of highlighting this necessary shift:

5) Goals and Objectives to Purpose and Values

The bottom line: Tap into your purpose and values to drive simplicity

Modernize Leadership: Shifting 8 Outdated Management Practices

wordle3b

Over the previous decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and study thousands of companies. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the world has changed a lot, but organizational management has stayed substantially the same.

Technology has enabled entirely new practices and we’ve developed a much deeper understanding of what drives human behaviors and business success. But these new realities have not been translated into how leaders run their companies. Instead, management techniques continue to reflect outdated assumptions such as:

  • Mainstream economics works on the assumption of Homo Economicus, a model of people as rational self-interest maximizers. So “agency theory” informs management that employees can’t be trusted to act on behalf of the firm and, therefore, controls must be put in place to align their efforts.
  • Strategic planning cycles (annually, quarterly) have been established based on a constraint of limited data availability. When these processes and cycles were initially created, it was impractical to more frequently pull together meaningful insights about the business.
  • Management focus has been driven by economists like Milton Friedman who argued that corporate officials have one core responsibility: making as much money as possible for their shareholders. But the value that a company creates comes from a combination of resources contributed by different constituencies (not just investors) who’s returns should also be maximized, especially employees who contribute their knowledge and skills.

While these underlying assumptions aren’t necessarily discussed explicitly, they frame the basic structure of today’s approach to management. Well, it’s time to Modernize Leadership. We need to redefine how we run organizations based on the realities of today, which will require more inspiring leaders in the future.

To help make the shift, I plan to write individual posts that describe eight key shifts required to modernize leadership. In those posts I’ll describe the move from:

  1. Command and Control to Engage and Empower
  2. Strategize and Plan to Learn and Adjust
  3. Amass and Review to Detect and Disseminate
  4. Measure and Track to Observe and Improve
  5. Goals and Objectives to Purpose and Values
  6. Problems and Solutions to Strengths and Appreciation
  7. Process and Projects to Culture and Behaviors
  8. Price and Features to Experience and Emotions

ModernizedLeadershipOutdatedAssumptions

The bottom line: Let’s Modernize Leadership together!

Report: Lessons in CX Excellence, 2016

1601_LessonsInCXExcellence_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Lessons in CX Excellence, 2016. The report provides insights from eight finalists in the Temkin Group’s 2015 CX Excellence Awards. The report, which is 100 pages long, includes an appendix with the finalists’ nomination forms. This report has rich insights about both B2B and B2C customer experience.

Here’s the executive summary:

This year, we chose eight organizations as finalists for Temkin Group’s 2015 Customer Experience Excellence Award. The finalists for 2015 are EMC Global Services, Hagerty, InMoment, Safelite AutoGlass, SunPower, The Results Companies, Verint, and Wheaton | Bekins. This report provides specific examples describing how these companies’ CX efforts have created value for both their customers and for their businesses. We also highlight best practices across the four customer experience competencies—purposeful leadership, compelling brand values, employee engagement, and customer connectedness. We have included all of the finalists’ detailed nomination forms at the end of this report to help you compile examples and ideas to apply to your own CX efforts.

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Here are some highlights from the finalists: Read more of this post

Report: B2B Customer Experience Best Practices

1510_B2B CX Best Practices_COVERWe published a Temkin Group report, Business-to-Business (B2B) Customer Experience Best Practices. This report provides data on the state of customer experience (CX) in B2B as well as 20 CX best practices across five critical B2B processes. Here’s the executive summary:

Temkin Group research shows that although business-to-business (B2B) organizations are raising their customer experience (CX) ambitions, they still have a way to go before achieving their goals. Despite the fact that most large B2Bs have a low level of CX maturity, our research shows that 57% of them aspire to deliver industry-leading customer experience within three years. However, to improve their CX, B2Bs must master Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. Our research uncovered 20 practices that B2Bs can emulate when applying those competencies across these five key business processes: sales and account management, implementation/project execution, support and issue resolution, partner alignment, and product management and innovation. To assess your organization’s CX maturity, use Temkin Group’s Customer Experience Competency Assessment and compare the results to data from other large B2B firms to chart your path to improvement.

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The report examines the state of B2B CX, including the results from large companies that completed Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Assessment:

1511_B2BCXMaturity

To help B2B organizations raise their CX maturity, we identify 20 best practices for mastering Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. These practices are aligned with five key B2B activities: sales and account management, implementation/project execution, support and issue resolution, partner alignment, and product management and innovation:

1511_B2B5Processes

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100 Customer Experience Tips in 105 Characters (Or Less)

I’ve decided to take on a personal challenge: Tweeting (@btemkin) a new customer experience tip for 100 straight days.

100CXtips_v2After accounting for the overhead in each tweet (like links back to this post), I’m only left with about 105 characters. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pack insight into that limited space. I’ll be using the hashtag, #CXtip, so you can follow me on twitter (or just keep coming back to this post).

The tips will cover the four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership (PL), Compelling Brand Values (CBV), Employee Engagement (EE) and Customer Connectedness (CC).

Here are the 100 #CX Tips:

  • #CXtip 1Examine #insights for #customers’ journeys, not for individual, siloed interactions. (CC)
  • #CXtip 2: Engaged employees are extremely valuable assets. They’re worth even more of your investment. (EE)
  • #CXtip 3: You can’t fake it. Assume that customers & employees will always figure out what’s real & act accordingly. (PL)
  • #CXtip 4: Great #brands are built on making, embracing & keeping promises, so be clear about your #customer promises. (CBV)
  • #CXtip 5: #CustExp encompasses success, effort, & emotion. They all impact loyalty, but #emotion rules. (CC)
  • #CXtip 6: Don’t waste customers’ time asking them questions unless you are prepared to act on what they say. (CC)
  • #CXtip 7: #Employees are more #engaged when you ask for their feedback and act upon what they say. (EE)
  • #CXtip 8: Build commitment by appealing to #employees’ hearts, shared values & intrinsic motivations. (PL)
  • #CXtip 9: Not all customers are the same. Stop treating them as if they are. Think of using #personas. (CC)
  • #CXtip 10: What people experience is not what they remember; so take advantage of how people remember things (CC)

Read more of this post

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.

1509_CultureCaseStudies

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

Report: Lessons in CX Excellence, 2015

1501_LessonsInCXExcellence_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Lessons in CX Excellence, 2015. The report provides insights from 8 finalists in the Temkin Group’s 2014 CX Excellence Awards. The report, which is 98 pages long, includes an appendix with the finalists’ nomination forms. This report has rich insights about both B2B and B2C customer experience.

Here’s the executive summary:

This year, we chose eight organizations as finalists for Temkin Group’s 2014 Customer Experience Excellence Award. Finalists are Activision Customer Care, Aetna, Crowe Horwath LLP, Dell Inc., EMC Corporation, Texas NICUSA, The Results Companies, and TouchPoint Support Services. This report provides specific examples of how these companies’ CX efforts have created value for both their customers and for their businesses. We also highlight their best practices across the four customer experience competencies—purposeful leadership, compelling brand values, employee engagement, and customer connectedness. At the end of this report, we have included all of the finalists’ detailed nomination forms to help you collect examples and ideas to apply to your own CX efforts.

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Watch Temkin Group webinar about this research.

Here are some highlights from the finalists:

  • Activision Customer Care. Activision demonstrates its commitment to creating great game player experiences in a multitude of ways, such as emphasizing the use of player feedback to identify improvement opportunities. Activision combines this dedication to listening to its players with a willingness to redesign significant interactions. For example, it revamped its “Contact Us” page to include ambassador chat and callback scheduling, which resulted in higher satisfaction and lower effort for customers.
  • Aetna. Despite being in an industry undergoing tremendous change, Aetna is focusing on its 2020 vision to make the company 100% customer-centric. It has implemented many changes to help achieve this goal, including providing service over the phone and investing in text and speech analytics to better identify customer pain points and improve the behaviors and skillsets of its call representatives. The latter effort has already resulted in reduced repeat calls, improved accuracy, and a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS).
  • Crowe Horwath. With a client engagement score towering 33 points above the accounting industry average, Crowe Horwath is seeing the pay-off of its efforts to deliver an exceptional client experience. These efforts include establishing a firm-wide governance model and measurement scorecard, implementing a closed-loop voice of the customer program, incorporating customer journey mapping to uncover moments of truth, and engaging employees through training, client-driven CX recognition programs, and an employee ambassador program.
  • Dell. Dell’s CX efforts start with an emphasis on listening to and engaging with customers and employees. Dell enlists different groups from across the company—including engineering, marketing, sales, support, and digital—to make improvements to the entire customer journey. As a result of this work, Dell has opened 16 solution centers—which gives customers a place to experience solutions—and has provided proactive support over a wide variety of social channels, simplified Dell.com for consumer and business users, and implemented more than 540 customer innovation ideas.
  • EMC Corporation. The Total Customer Experience (TCE) program at EMC works across the enterprise to enhance the company’s customer experience by listening to customer feedback, analyzing data, and taking directed action based on that feedback and data. The program also raises awareness of how every person at the company impacts customer experience. As its CX efforts have matured, the TCE team has evolved to take on more challenging tasks; its projects now include predictive CX analytics, measuring its partner experience quality, and optimizing the experience across many different customer segments and solutions.
  • The Results Companies. To support its work as a business process outsourcing provider, The Results Companies uses its own unique operating model called CX360, which allows for continuous business process refinements that improve the customer experience. Built on three pillars—people, knowledge, empowerment—CX360 has helped the company ensure that its 8,500 employees around the globe remain focused on CX. The operating model has also contributed to Results’ strong growth in new clients and year-over-year revenue.
  • Texas NICUSA/Texas.gov. Texas NICUSA provides support for Texas.gov and implements technology solutions for Texas governmental agencies. It serves over 50,000 monthly site visitors and 300 state and local governments. Its three-tiered multi-channel customer service approach includes a general customer service Help Desk (phone and online), a Service Desk to support governmental agency needs, and a group of Technology Subject Matter Experts who can provide escalated assistance to either citizens or agency employees.
  • TouchPoint Support Services. TouchPoint Support Services streamlines support services within healthcare facilities. The company’s business goals, known as Top of Mind Objectives, guide the work of its 6,800 associates, helping them to find inefficiencies and improve patient satisfaction, associate engagement, safety, unity, and budget compliance. Touchpoint uses many methods for aligning employees with these objectives, including special training for managers and frontline employees, coaching from dedicated customer experience managers (who visit sites regularly), and associate recognition programs.

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If you enjoyed this report, check out Lessons in CX Excellence, 2014 and Lessons in CX Excellence, 2013.

The bottom line: There’s a lot to learn from these CX Excellence Finalists.

Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Creates Fan-Centric Culture

I recently had the opportunity to hear Derrick Hall, CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, speak at the Arizona State University, Center for Services Leadership (CSL) Compete Through Service Symposium. Hall was extremely passionate about customer experience. His goal: “Treat our fans, employees, and players better than any team in sports.”

Hall’s perspective as a senior executive was so refreshing that I scheduled a follow-up interview. The call started with some baseball talk (I confessed to being a passionate member of Red Sox Nation) and included a brief interruption by Tony La Russa, the Diamondbacks’ Chief Baseball Officer. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the conversation.

CircleOfSuccessDiamondbacksHall joined the D-backs in May 2005 as Senior Vice President, Communications, was named president in September 2006 and CEO in January 2009. He proudly points to the core operating framework he adopted called the “Circle of Success.” It describes how the Diamondbacks organization needs to focus on five things:

  • Performance (on the field)
  • Community
  • Culture
  • Financial efficiency
  • Fan experience

You can tell a lot about a person’s true priorities when they are faced with difficult decisions. Last year was a very tough season for the Diamondbacks, winning the fewest games in MLB. It would be easy for Hall to blindly focus on the team performance. But Hall is so committed to the culture, fan experience, and community items that he told me that the organization was cutting baseball payroll this year instead of cutting those other items.

I asked Hall about the connection between baseball operations and the rest of the organization, which is an area that I’ve seen clearly split-up within other professional sports teams. Hall told me hated places that he had worked where there was a sense of “us” and “them.” Hall lets players know that they are part of the broader organization and many of them show up with their families for team holiday parties and barbecues. Hall also actively encourages players to improve the fan experience. He sends hand written notes to players thanking them for signing autographs during batting practice.

Hall talks about his “one fan at a time” philosophy. He explained that there is a lot of competition for fans’ attention, and many things they could do instead of going to a Diamondbacks game. So he wants to be aggressive at winning and retaining every fan. That’s why he implemented a customer service policy called FAWTSY (Find A Way To Say Yes). The organization quickly responds to every voice mail, text message, and email, viewing every complaint as an opportunity to improve. The team also assigns people to proactively reach out to every season ticket holder and holds focus groups with 20 season ticket holders on every home stand.

Culture & Innovation CenterDespite the focus on fans, Hall made it clear that “the fan doesn’t come first, employees do.” He told me that if employees feel respected and taken care of, then they will treat the fans the way that the organization wants them to be treated (I couldn’t agree more, see our Employee Engagement Resources).

The Diamondbacks use several mechanisms to engage employees. Instead of celebrating people leaving with going away parties, the organization starts employees on the right foot with arrival parties. Hall also holds a “President’s Roundtable Lunch” with 13 to 15 randomly selected employees every month. The first Friday of the month the team holds a session over lunch called “On the Couch with D-Hall,” where Hall discusses what’s going on with the team in the format of a late night show.

Hall takes culture so seriously that he renamed the front office as the “Culture & Innovation Center.” The Diamondbacks have won a lot of awards for the quality of their work environment. According to the Diamondbacks website, the organization was named by Yahoo! as “the best workplace in sports” and named the “Most Admired Company for Workplace Culture” by AzBusiness Magazine and BestCompaniesAZ for the seventh consecutive year.

Hall sets the tone for his organization. He told me “I like to thank every one of my ushers with a hand shake and a hug” because he wants them to feel important. He sends the game day staff notes and letters and mentions them by name in the team magazine. He also doesn’t believe in watching the game from a private box, unless he is hosting someone like the commissioner. He likes to sit with the fans and shake their hands and listen to what they have to say. He tries to get to any fan that is hit by a ball to make sure they are okay, then gives them his personal card. And when he sees trash on the ground, he does what he wants all of his staff to do–pick it up and throw it away.

What does Hall see as his next “big thing” in fan experience? Creativity in technology. He envisions a fan experience that blends the best of two worlds: the comfort and information watching the game at home on a large screen TV and the excitement of seeing a game live in the stadium.

I’m not surprised that Hall was named as the “Best Boss” in sports in 2013 by TeamWork Online.

The bottom line: Customer-centric organizations need leaders like Derrick Hall.

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 its customers. 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.

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.

Don’t F*ck Up The Culture, Says Airbnb CEO

Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb recently wrote a post, Don’t Fuck Up the Culture. It’s a note that he sent to all of the Airbnb employees. It’s a good, short read. Here’s an excerpt:

Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to fuck up the culture.

My take: Chesky is absolutely correct. Culture is a manifestation of an organization’s true values and it shows up in a myriad of ways. It can be an invaluable asset when it’s good and an insurmountable obstacle when it’s bad. It aligns the thinking and actions of employees in ways that are even more powerful than controls and measurement.

I’ve been writing about this topic for a while, so I went back into the Customer Experience Matters way-back machine and found three very relevant blog posts from 2008:

In Inspiration Trumps Coercion And Motivation, I included what I believe is a seminal quote on the topic from Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

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.

In Discussing Zappos’ Culture With Tony Hsieh, I write about my interview with Zappos’ CEO. Here are a few of the takeaways from that discussion:

  • Tony doesn’t want to prescribe actions for employees that show how much Zappos cares about customers; he wants employees to do things because they genuinely care about customers.
  • Zappos uses its culture as a reason to hire and fire people. All new hire candidates have a separate interview with the HR department that focuses just on cultural fit.
  • Tony offers this advice to Zappos employees: It’s completely up to you guys. I can’t force the culture to happen; so part of your job description is to display and inspire the culture.

In Management Imperative #1: Invest In Culture As A Corporate Asset, I offered four ideas about how execs can manage their corporate culture assets. Here’s the first one on the list:

Track employee goodwill. When companies buy other companies, they often account for part of the price as “goodwill;” acknowledging that items like brand name and competitive positioning can be long-term assets. Following this approach, companies should track “employee goodwill.” How? By surveying employees and reporting the results like you report the balance sheet; analyzing quarterly snapshots and changes over time. Think about creating a metric from  questions like “How committed are you to helping the company achieve it’s mission and objectives?” “How likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work to your family and friends?

I also feel the need to point to a blog post from 2009, Fundamental Flaws In Management Education. This post discusses a fantastic article written by Sumantra Ghoshal, a leading business thinker. Here’s an excerpt:

Unlike theories in physical science, theories in social science tend to be self-fulfilling. A management theory that catches hold, therefore, can change the behavior of managers who act in accordance with that theory. As Ghoshal states, “the “scientific” approach of trying to discover patterns and laws have replaced all notion of human intentionality with a firm belief in causal determinism for explaining all aspects of corporate performance.” In other words, the belief that management is a social science has removed any humanistic traits (like corporate culture) from the equation about what drives corporate performance.

The bottom line: Don’t f*ck up your culture

Report: The State of Customer Experience Management, 2014

1404_TheStateOfCX2014_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, The State of CX Management, 2014. It examines the CX efforts within more than 200 large companies. Here’s the executive summary:

We surveyed more than 200 large companies and found an abundance of Customer Experience (CX) ambition and activity. Most companies have a CX executive leading the charge, a central team coordinating significant CX activities, and a staff of six to 10 full-time CX professionals. Using Temkin Group’s CX competency assessment, we found that only 10% of companies have reached the highest two levels of customer experience, although this does represent a slight increase from last year. Most firms struggle most to master Employee Engagement and Compelling Brand Values. When compared with CX laggards, CX leaders have stronger financial results, enjoy better CX leadership, and implement more successful employee engagement efforts. Executives in companies with stronger CX competencies also tend to focus more on delighting customers and less on cutting costs.

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The percentage of large organizations that have reached the two highest levels of customer experience maturity has grown from 6% in 2013 to 10% this year. During the same period, the percentage of companies in the lowest level of maturity has dropped from 40% to 31%.

1404_CXMaturity

Here are some additional findings from the research:

  • Companies with good or very good ratings in Purposeful Leadership rose from 39% to 45%, the largest improvement for any customer experience competency.
  • The research also revealed a significant focus on improvement. While only 6% of companies believe that their organization currently delivers industry-leading customer experience, 58% have a goal to be an industry-leader within three years.
  • Sixty-five percent of companies have a senior executive in charge of customer experience.
  • More than half of companies have at least six full-time customer experience professionals.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents rate customer experience with phone agent as good or very good, the highest rated interaction. Less than 30% rate mobile phone and cross-channel experiences at that level.
  • The top obstacle to customer experience is the same as it has been for four years, “other competing priorities.”
  • We compared companies that have strong customer experience maturity with those that are weaker and found that customer experience leaders have better financial results, have more senior executive commitment, and focus more on their organization’s culture.

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The bottom line: Most companies are in early stages of CX maturity, but are getting better

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