Unfortunately, this memo reflects the situation for a lot of us in the Customer Experience space. Company leaders know CX is important conceptually, but they don’t always allocate the resources to make our programs a true success. Because they’d like to see some results before they go “all in,” we are left to drive solutions and results with small teams (if we even have one) and small budgets. With limited resources, one of the biggest keys to driving CX success within our organizations is to get other parts of the organization on board with our initiatives.
Every one of our coworkers has his or her own projects and priorities – many handed down from their own managers. So they’ll be, at best, slightly distracted when it comes to focusing on our projects. Making matters worse, they may even be competing for the same IT, funding or other resources we want. Given those challenges, how do we motivate our coworkers who may or may not be interested in the success of our project? Approaches differ by organization, but here are a few tricks of the trade that have helped me drive positive organizational change even with my fellow employees who may have competing interests.
1. Start with Visible Leadership Support
Visible is the key word here. We wouldn’t be working on a CX project if we didn’t have some sort of leadership support. That support, though, needs to be obvious to your team (whether folks report to you or to a matrixed team). One technique that’s worked well for me in the past is to have the senior leader who is the project champion speak for 5 minutes at the kick-off meeting. Write remarks for the person so there’s a decent chance they’ll say what you want them to say. (Senior leaders sometimes go off script, but it’s worth the effort to coach them because sometimes they read our remarks verbatim.) The senior leader should speak about how important the project is, how it (and the team) will be in the spotlight, and how he/she is looking forward to the results.
2. Make It Personal
A motivating speech from a senior leader promising a high-visibility assignment is compelling, but most employees will need a little more to sustain their effort on our projects. For that, we need to make our project more personal. We’re kicking off our project because it solves some customer experience need we think is important. That only motivates our coworkers, though, if they also have CX as a high priority. What if we made it so their priorities aligned with ours? Now, it’s about us helping them solve their important problem vs. them helping us … a huge difference in motivation.
Think through the needs, problems, and concerns of your team members. How will your CX solution also solve something for them? These needs can be personal, outcome-oriented, and/or organizational/political. For instance, the project could enable the team member to learn a new skill or practice his leadership skills with an aspect of the project. Or, maybe her department has revenue or retention goals your project will support. Lastly, your project can help your team members make a name for themselves in the business. Describe how the project (with the senior leader’s backing) will elevate their status in the organization.
3. Create a shared vision for success
For those who work in CX, it’s sometimes tough to see what ultimate goal you’re trying to achieve. If CX is an “additional duty” (i.e. you work in another function and are on a CX project team), it’s even harder to keep the ultimate project goal in mind. That’s why it’s important to create a shared vision for success with your team at the beginning of your project. Notice that I said “shared,” not “mandated.” If we try to force all the details of a project’s outcome down our teams’ throats, they’ll rebel (or worse, become apathetic). By the same token, though, we also need to guide the team so it’s not a free-for-all. Use some finesse to lead the team toward the appropriate goals without telling them exactly how to get there. A great place to start is discussing what is in and out of scope. From there, talk about the champion’s desired outcomes and let the team help you fill in the blanks. Make it truly a team effort, not your effort.
4. Adapting HR Policies and Systems Infrastructure
The final big task that will help us ensure buy-in of our initiative – and to ensure the changes are lasting – is to change human relations & systems infrastructures as part of our CX changes. As an example, let’s say our project team solves a critical need in our call center by providing our customer services representatives with the information they need to resolve a customer problem quickly and on the first call. Hooray! Prior to taking our team out for celebratory drinks & appetizers, though, we need to ensure we have systems in place to cement the changes.
In all likelihood, some of our call center representatives will resist our changes. Perhaps they’ve had the same role with the same procedures for a long time and fear change. So we ask ourselves: Is there an incentive we can put in place from an HR perspective that will support our changes? One idea is to measure our call center reps on the percentage of their calls resolved on the first call. Now, using their new information provides an opportunity for them to excel on their performance appraisals. Likewise, we need to ensure the customer information we provide them is easy to access. That might require a system (IT) enhancement. If we don’t move HR and systems infrastructure in parallel with our changes, there’s less likelihood that our improvements will stick.
As CX professionals, we have it tough. We’re often asked to motivate our coworkers to complete projects on our behalf (really the business’ behalf, but they don’t always see it that way) with limited budgets and no direct authority over our teams. Cajoling, begging and yelling can get us only so far. But with a systematic plan – much of which is thought out before the project even starts – we can lead our teams to produce the results we’ve been asked to accomplish. And, we can do it in a manner that keeps the team motivated, enthusiastic and maybe even willing to join us on our next project team.