Fueling energizing transformation? Don’t forget to check the brakes!

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In recent years I have been fortunate to implement my methodology across 18 countries. Not only an amazing personal journey, but also one that helped me experiment and learn in further developing a successful approach for CX transformation. In this blog I’d like to share these lessons learned with you, so you can benefit from them in your own organisation.

The first stages of the Accelerate In Experience framework (page 2) have been proven for several years now (journey mapping and finding the true, latent drivers based on a scientific approach). That resulted in focusing more and more on the heart of transformation: creating energy and fun across the entire organisation to integrate the insights in the daily work of all the employees.

By experimenting and translating the theoretical (scientific) concepts of the best books on behavioral science* to practical implementation, these are 7 relevant lessons learned. Yet… I have also discovered that these is a missing link. More on that at the end of this blog. #cliffhanger.

Lesson #1 Playfulness is the key 

In all books on successful transformation, playfulness is the key ingredient. Don’t simply choose ambassadors (boring, each project has them). Choose a cool, fun theme. Arrange goodies. Send personalized invites for the training, etc. In other words: create a buzz the excites everyone to be part of this transformation. Now you’re not just saying this approach is different, but everyone can feel it really is.

Lesson #2 Focus, focus, focus

Everyone is crazy busy. Even more so in COVID times, I’m regularly worried about the workload and the inability to say no that employees feel. Therefore help them to prioritize. This is where those latent drivers of customers come in. When I know that giving personal attention is 5 times more relevant than a speedier process, this helps me focus my long list of to do’s. Making my work more fun and meaningful as well.

Lesson #3 Anchor in operations

Too many CX programs never progress passed marketing or the CX team. There is not enough connection with the employees in the operation. While the key to success – maybe the ultimate proof of success – is the leve of adoption of the CX insights in the heart of the operation. Only when employees see the added value of these insights for their own daily work, your mission has succeeded. Therefore, translate these insights to their daily work context.

Lesson #4 Stay clear from kpi’s

A long list of literature proving the negative consequences of KPI’s when creating an atmosphere of learning and experimenting is already out there. Try to prevent making satisfaction or NPS a new KPI for employees. Use periodic measurements of c-sat and NPS as a tool for them to learn and see effect of their own improvements and share examples of best practices with each other.

Lesson #5 Be your authentic self

When you are reading this blog, chances are you yourself have an active role in a transformational program in your own organisation. Be aware that your impact is maximized when you are your own authentic self. Don’t copy management or CX hypes, tools or method if you don’t 100% believe in them yourself. Anyone can feel it if the person across from them (even virtually) is not authentic, which will diminish your impact on the desired transformation.

Lesson #6 Keep learning and experimenting

80% of any CX transformation program can be standardized through the framework: mapping the journeys, measuring the latent drivers, measure the drivers periodically to see effect of improvements and training ambassadors in a fun and energizing way. That 20% customization is what will make the difference for sustainable success. There is not a one size fits all answer to that. Would be kinda boring if there were 😉 The context of each organisation requires tweaks in the approach, rhythm, timing, creativity. Make sure to keep learning and experimenting to find new, impactful interventions.

Lesson #7 Share a little love

As I mentioned earlier, if these kinds of transformations toward a more customer- and human centric organisation would be easy, none of the organisations would still be struggling with it. For both employees and leaders it’s a challenging new journey to embark on. Hence the request to show each other some love 😉 Anyone will fall into old behaviors, it’s not a straight line toward the new situation. But as long as this journey is in an open, positive, respectful atmosphere of learning and experimenting for all involved, it will not only make the journey itself worthwhile, but you also have the biggest opportunity of making it to your desired destination.

With these 7 basic principles, in all those 18 countries, from Argentina to Japan, meaning culturally independent, we managed to get the teams energized and  excited to work with insights to improve their CX. With measurable results in the short term (often within 3 or 6 months).

There is one thing though, that keeps nagging me in the back of my head… empowerment. And then specifically, the gap between the desired empowerment versus current reality in most organisations.

What I see happening, is that everyone, leaders and employees, are in favor of empowerment. Meaning: employees who can decide for themselves how to improve the experience of customers and themselves in their daily work by experimenting based on the drivers we found.

But that in fact, in an organisation system that in most organisations still stems from scientific management (thus control, tasksteering and in essence fear based), this is still a bridge too far. Something else is need to bridge the empowerment gap. Well, I’m still in the middle of brainwaving about this, but I’ve found at least one concept that I wanted to share with you already: psychological safety (book tip “The Fearless Organisation” from Edmondson).

Her analogy to me is spot on:

“I like to say that psychological safety takes off the brakes that keep people from achieving what’s possible. But it’s not the fuel that powers the car.”

The fuel part is playfulness, energy, experimentation, purpose, reaching goals together. Tips you get from the 7 lessons learned and o.a. the 4 books on behavioral science*. That will already create a lot of movement. But… can you imagine what we could do if we were also able to release those breaks! I’m already excited to work together with (team)leaders to design super practical, playful, impactful tools and exercises for them to start working with this in their daily challenging job.

And yes, the key word here is together. What stands out to me is that in almost any book or article about empowerment and transformation, the average leader is being bashed pretty severely. It seems virtually impossible nowadays to be a good leader or manager. But let’s look at the organisation system leaders need to work in instead of at leaders themselves. That’s where the key issue and challenge lies. Also here, let’s show a little love for each other. No one has the answer. But learning and experimenting together will help us to more and more make a true difference for customers and employees. And in doing so, we keep changing the world a little…

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