Q: My company has adopted a new companywide customer engagement strategy. We've had some training, but my team doesn't really get it yet. What can I do to help get everyone on board?
A: Make it concrete and relevant so that your team members can get a deep understanding.
The inner game
Many companies are talking about customer experience, and there are new teams, departments and organizations springing up every day to help businesses focus on their customer. The devil is in the details, and helping departments that don't deal directly with customers understand their effect is one of the challenges.
How well do you get it yourself? If you have a clear vision for your team's customer experience relevance, you'll be better positioned to help them. If not … well, you need to focus there first.
Consider whether there are other barriers to engagement. If your company has a track record of starting initiatives and not following through, for example, your team may be a bit cynical. Or if people have too much on their plates, this may seem more like a burden than an important step.
Finally, look for any gaps in the information that has been provided, particularly thinking about your team's learning preferences to make a strategy for how to help them.
The outer game
Start bringing your strategy to life close to home — with yourself. Try standing in front of a mirror, explaining your team's customer story out loud. If you can't articulate your group's connection with the customer, work backward, envisioning your company without your team and the effect it would have on the customer. This is easy if you're in sales or customer service; it takes more work to map out the connections between you and the customer when you don't have direct interaction.
Now spend some time with your team to make it personal. My bias is that training doesn't always include enough time for people to integrate what they've learned, and on a culture change initiative like this, it's essential. If it's a large group, do a kickoff conversation with the whole group and then break into smaller teams to think it through.
Once everyone gets it, work as a team to develop action plans. Figuring out what you can do differently, how you can maintain awareness of the centrality of your customer, and how you can remain attuned to your company's direction will build momentum. For example, perhaps each team member can shadow a customer service rep for a few hours. This isn't "one and done," so build an ongoing structure for discussion and customer-focused activity.
Look for help with this. If you're comfortable as a facilitator, great; however, having a neutral third party running your meeting can free you up to participate with your team members. Also, having expertise regarding the initiative itself could be helpful, though you'll need to be sure that your team members feel safe in expressing reservations so that they can be addressed.
The last word
When you support your customer-facing colleagues, take pride that you're supporting your customers.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.