I recently chaired a panel on customer centricity: 'Internal v External - promoting innovation in HR to build a consistent leadership brand'.
The panal featured Ben Bengougam from Hilton Worldwide, Jill Brady from Virgin Atlantic, Simon Lloyd from Santander, Lynne Weedall from Carphone Warehouse and Angela Williams from British Gas.
We were under Chatham House rules so there's a limit to how much I can post about the event, but it was a really interesting session, and I thought I should pull out some highlights for you.
Firstly, the points I made in my opening up:
What are you trying to do?
- The most important thing is for an organisation to be clear about what it's trying to do e.g. how much customer alignment does it want. As I've blogged previously, I think you can take things too far e.g. innovation is more likely to come from unusual sources, not from customers.
- Secondly I think organisations need to be clear which they want alignment to work, e.g. whether they believe in customers first, or employees first customers second? (also Virgin boss Richard Branson's perspective, I believe)
How to do it?
- You probably need a mix of levers: people, culture, leadership, technology and measurement.
- There will need to be a link between your candidate / employer brand and your corporate / customer brand.
Additional challenges to deal with?
- Good customer service increasingly relies on personality and emotional resonance - all more difficult to provide in a call centre environment, particularly if its off shored or outsourced etc.
- All this is becoming more important as everything becomes more social, e.g. as customers talk more about their experience using social media (see Josh Bernoff's Empowered). I mentioned United Breaks Guitars for Jill's benefit, and Twelpforce for Lynne's.
Then we were off. The main insights for me from the conversation between the panel and the audience I was facilitating were:
- There was a lot of support for the people first idea. I really wish I could post more on what the panel members were saying. And I wish even more strongly that this was a more broadly accepted paradigm. But basically we need to create the right culture and environment (human, social and organisational capital) internally to create the right relationships with customers.
- I was surprised how much social media came up. HR people may not be using social media themselves (I was the only person to check-in to Altitude 360 at the Millbank Tower on Foursquare, nobody was using Twitter - hard I know when there are Chatham House rules) but many do understand how much social media has changed things.
- Measurement got a lot of attention too, for example several members of the panel were using the Net Promoter Score for employees as well as customers, and we also referenced Gallup's Human Sigma.
A great session - well done TEN (The Executive Network), panelists and attendees!
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