Creating a Culture of Change Fanatics
I’ve been hearing a lot of grumblings lately that people, at every level of business, are tired of change. They are experiencing “change fatigue” and tell me, “We can’t handle the pace or volume of change. We’ve had 12 different types of changes in the past 18 months, from new tech to a new CEO. People are tired!”
Yes, of course they are tired! But they’re not tired because of the changes themselves; they’re tired because of their mindsets. Because change is synonymous with wasted time, confusion, hassles, discomfort, and so on. But this doesn’t have to be the case. After all, in so many aspects of our lives, change is considered fun, exciting, and something to look forward to! For example, when Apple launches a new iPhone, are people too tired to adapt to that change? Nope. Just the opposite. They jump right in and want to be the first in line (sometimes for hours) to get that new device. They’re excited to play around with the new phone. They can’t wait to change their device. Isn’t it time we apply this same way of looking at change to our work lives as well?
Change as a Way of Life
In organizations, we used to think of change as a destination. We’d work to put something new in place and then sit back and relax, feeling content and satisfied by our accomplishment. But things don’t work that way in 2020. Change isn’t a destination. It’s a constant. Change must be part of our culture’s DNA, because today you need to either keep pace with change or risk failure. I might not know everything, but I do know that there is a company, make that multiple companies, working to figure out a way to do what you do – but better, smarter, faster, at a better cost, you name it. If you’re not changing and evolving, you’d better bet someone else is.
As leaders and managers, we need to create a mindset, a culture where people are excited and ready for change. It’s the only way to ensure our very survival in a fast-paced, ultra-competitive 21st-century marketplace. If you’re looking to help your organization become change ready, begin by shifting the conversation from “This is another change” to “We are smart and quick enough to stay one step ahead of the marketplace. Being agile and adaptable is just part of who we are and how we work.”
Leaders need to create a new language with words such as “change initiatives” with “What’s next?” Language matters. If you can change the way you talk about change, you can transform the mindset of your people. Soon, change won’t feel like something to dread – it will feel like the next step forward.
Creating a Consistent Consumer Experience
At the start of the winter season, I found myself in need of a new hat and scarf. So off I went to shop at the downtown Chicago location of a favorite national retailer. It was a Sunday, and I purchased the hat and scarf for a business trip I was taking the next day. And of course, as luck would have it, I lost the hat that very next day during my travels. Tuesday, I came back from the business trip and went back to the same store to get a replacement. I really liked that hat! And it matched the scarf, so seemed like a no brainer to go buy another one.
Customer Loyalty & CX Go Hand in Hand
I talked to a different salesperson this time and said, “I bought a hat and scarf on Sunday, lost it on Monday and want to replace it.” Together, we found the same hat and scarf. Then at the checkout, I asked, “Is the 25% off sale still running that I had taken advantage of on Sunday?” She said, “No, it ended on Sunday.” And I said, “Okay, I have a coupon in my email from your company, and as a new customer I get 25% off.” She said, “Show me the email.” I couldn’t find the email on my phone, ultimately leading her to say, “Without the email, I can’t help you.”
It wasn’t exactly what she said that bothered me. I could easily accept I couldn’t get the 25% off again. It was how she said it, and how she treated me, and how she engaged me (or didn’t engage me) – she was very dismissive. So, I ended up leaving the store without the hat. It was kind of expensive and I didn’t really want to spend money with someone who was being dismissive of me.
The next day, which was now Wednesday, my wife was at another location of the same retailer in Chicago. She saw the hat and she wanted to pick it up for me. At checkout, she said to the person checking her out, “My husband just bought this hat on Sunday and he lost it on Monday.” The salesperson said, “Oh no, really? We were just having a sale on this hat on Sunday too. Tell you what, I am going to give you the sale price.”
Same brand. Two different locations. Two different people. And two very different shopping experiences. One experience was a loyalty killer and the other was a loyalty builder. In fact, there is a specific store I will now be loyal to and one store I will never shop at again. The products and store displays are the same, but the experience was very, very different. In the end, it wasn’t really about the 25% off; it was about demonstrating understanding and empathy and trying to solve a customer problem. That’s where loyalty is made or broken!
Consistency is Key
Organizations need to be consistent in their CX because the experiences created for customers are the pathway to success or failure. From the web to brick-and-mortar, the service you offer at different touchpoints needs to culminate in one overall experience. The customer service agent your customer interacts with on the phone needs to be consistent with the messaging the customer is getting in store too. Your customer’s loyalty is only as strong as the experience you give them. Leaders must ensure that all of their people understand why the customer experience is so important, what makes your experience different from your competitors, and how they can contribute to delivering that experience both authentically and consistently. Consistency is paramount and must be baked into your CX strategy because your customer will experience your product or service in many ways, from online to in store and from one location to the next.