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Customer Centricity Influences Business Decisions

“Customer centricity” has become a buzzword in certain corporate circles-and lots of businesses like to claim that they subscribe to a customer centric culture. But customer centricity is more than just a marketing tactic. To become a truly customer centric company, the entire company culture must align with putting the customer first-whether customer-facing or non-customer-facing. The customer must be at the center of all decisions made, all day long.

So what does customer centricity, when done right, really look like? Draw inspiration from these three real-world examples from leading organizations that put the customer front and center.

1. Taking a Stand for Both Employees and Customers

In the last few years, there have been a number of retailers making a pretty bold move on the most important retail shopping day of the year: keeping their doors shut on Thanksgiving Day and even Black Friday. At first glance, this move seems to benefit these organizations’ employees most, but when it comes to customer centricity, the way you treat your customers and the way you treat your employees are closely connected. Treating front-line employees well is definitely a customer centric move, because creating a culture of high employee engagement will lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Closing doors on a holiday may not work for every retail business, but for the right organization, one that focuses on delivering quality experiences and sending a message of corporate responsibility, it’s an incredibly smart move. These companies know that customers would expect them to treat employees with dignity and respect, even if it costs the company some revenue. By aligning with their customers’ values, closing on these busy shopping days is a win-win and generates positive social reactions.

Learn how to create the best possible customer experience.

2. Creating Memories for Customers

For many organizations, selling a product isn’t necessarily the core mission or vision for the company; it’s the experience that the company brings to its customers. They are in the business of creating memories, and they do this through a complete dedication to providing a customer centric experience.

What does this look like in a real organization? At all times, every single employee is tasked with making visitors or customers feel welcome and comfortable, whether these tasks are in their job description or not. In fact, all employees should be proactive, not reactive, about customer service. For example, employees are encouraged to approach customers who look confused in order to offer assistance, instead of waiting for them to ask for help. Companies that consistently deliver wow-worthy experiences recognize that executing on the “little” details and creating memorable micro-moments contribute to the overall customer experience. You may never know the impact that keeping every single company surface sparkling clean can have on a customer or visitor—but they will.

To enhance the experience you deliver to customers, you must consider everything your organization does from the customer’s perspective. From tiny decisions (changing from staples to paper clips on billing statements) to large ones (changing your billing structure entirely), you can bet that consumers have an opinion—and you should know their opinion.

3. Using the Customer to Fuel Product Decisions

If you take a look at companies that are updating their products, particularly in the software space, you’ll see a shift away from “features for the sake of features” to something far more inspirational: the customer. Companies can gather more feedback more easily than ever before—and smart ones put it to good use. These organizations pull out actionable themes and questions in customer feedback, such as:

  • Is a product easy to use and intuitive?
  • Does bad design stand in the way of otherwise stellar performance?
  • Is the product top-notch quality?

Instead of chasing the competition, these organizations are chasing their customers’ wish lists—which results in better results for everyone. To accomplish this, the smartest of organizations take the customer centric mission organization-wide. They don’t just ask product development managers to think about product features—they ask finance teams how they too can incorporate user feedback, they ask sales reps for more front-line input, and they focus executives’ initiatives on the same theme. This united approach builds a truly customer centric product and proactive organizational culture.

PaulABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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No matter how small or large your organization is, you want employees to approach company events with enthusiasm, not with groans and complaints. Whether the purpose of the gathering is to share information, celebrate a recent success, or plan for the next big thing, it doesn’t have to be a boring day. Plan ahead in order to find an innovative way to make your event exciting, inspiring, and engaging. Of course, whatever you do must be appropriate for the content being delivered, so tailor the event accordingly.

If you need some concepts to get the wheels turning, consider these three company event ideas as you prepare for the next year:

1. Sssh…Can You Keep a Secret?

The buildup to an event can be just as important as the function itself. If you are planning a big reveal (or even a small but exciting one), use a secret-society theme and drop clues in the weeks and months leading up to the event. You can use a range of tactics to pique curiosity and get employees genuinely interested in attending the event. These include:

  • Start a company-wide “secret society” that makes everybody feel part of something special.
  • Send customized invitations to the event.
  • Create associated symbols and language unique to the group.
  • Keep the location a secret until shortly before the event.
  • Use clues in your email communications to share just enough information to pique interest.
  • Use elements of ceremony at the event to keep the theme going.

By cloaking the event in mystery while sharing key pieces of information, attendees will show up ready to participate and eager to learn what all the buzz is about. There are countless other conference theme ideas you can employ if this one isn’t appropriate for your event. No matter what you decide, a fully immersive event will always be more memorable than a conventional conference.

2. Think Outside the Presentation Box

Be bold. Ban slide-based presentations. It may seem like a simple rule, but by forcing presenters to deliver their content in a different way, everybody benefits. Attendees get to see different presentation styles that stave off information fatigue, and presenters get to be creative with their delivery. Some ideas to consider are:

  • Interviews
  • TED-style talks
  • Demonstrations
  • Interactive games
  • Experiential learning
  • Hands-on sessions
  • Panel discussions

You can give presenters these types of alternative ideas or, for a truly surprising event, allow them to use their own creativity to make their presentations captivating. This approach is great for leaders in development to try new communication methods and engage their employees in new ways.

3. Reverse the Roles in an “Unconference”

Sometimes a complete role reversal will bring new topics to light. At least that’s what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs believe when they organize an “unconference.” Based on the theory that the audience collectively has as much or more expertise than a group of presenters, the roles of attendee and conference planner are reversed. In an unconference, you can expect:

  • A loosely structured meeting that evolves based on participant feedback
  • An agenda that is created by participants at the start of the meeting
  • Participant-generated topics
  • Freedom to start a new discussion group at any time
  • More open discussions and fewer (or no) single presenters

An unconference has the potential to spark discussions that might not ever occur in a traditionally structured conference. If you are striving to achieve a culture of innovation, this approach might be right for your organization.

These are just a few company event ideas that can make your next gathering unforgettable. What other company event ideas are you considering for 2017?

Dave_RootABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Providing organizational training that stays with participants long after they’ve consumed the learning material is a tough challenge. When you’re implementing traditional training methods-like lectures or presentations-how can you guarantee that your trainees are even listening? That’s the beauty of experience-based organizational training-it fully immerses participants for learning and behavior change that stays with them long after the training ends. Here are the three big reasons why experiences-and, in particular, experiential learning-are the best organizational training tools for learning that sticks.

Want Organizational Training to Stick Make It an Experience1. Participants Practice While They Learn

At its heart, experiential learning is “learning by doing.” Instead of being taught skills through traditional organizational training methods like passive presentations and then leaving participants to practice those skills on their own time, experiential learning combines skills learning and skills practice in one powerful training session. When we learn by doing, we retain up to 75% of the information we learn. Compare that to retention rates as low as 5% when we learn through lecture-based presentations.

Part of the reason that experience-based experiential learning is so effective is that it allows participants to immediately see the direct correlations between actions and results. Experiential learning takes the guesswork out of the action–consequence equation, leaving participants feeling confident that their newly acquired skills and behaviors will have a direct impact on their work. This also helps build personal conviction about the value of changing behaviors, because participants have seen and experienced firsthand the impact of certain behavior change.

2. Experience-Based Organizational Training Gets Participants Excited and Fully Immersed

One of the reasons why traditional organizational training methods don’t really stick is that they are not engaging or exciting. Lectures or PowerPoint presentations simply require passive participation, which means those lessons can go in one ear and out the other. Experience-based learning, however, requires full, active participation on the part of all trainees. Participants are up and moving, engaged in the experience at hand, instead of falling asleep in their seats!

Experiential learning takes it a step further by theming the learning experiences. The benefit of theming the training experience is twofold. First, themed experiences are simply more exciting than straight simulations or reenactments of workplace scenarios: amping up the fun of your organizational training event and keeping the energy high. Second, theming the training experience provides a safe environment for participants to take risks and learn from failure, which they would be less inclined to do in a training session that obviously mimics a real-world work scenario. Nobody wants to risk failure at work!

3. The Debrief Connects the Dots

For experiential learning to really stick, your organizational training must include a debrief, wherein the skills learned and consequences affected all come together. During the debrief, a facilitator reveals the themed training’s metaphor and how it relates to participants’ daily job responsibilities. The facilitator ensures that participants truly understand the outcomes and connections of the experience so that they can effectively apply their new skills and learning on the job. Conviction crystallizes during the debrief; it provides an “a-ha” moment for the participants, as it clearly links the experience with how to improve on-the-job performance.

Organizational training isn’t just about learning new information; it’s about instilling lasting behavior change. Immersive training experiences increase the chances that your training will actually be retained, making a lasting impact on your employees’ performance.

EF authorABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In recent years, there seems to have been a widening gap in the corporate training world between expectations and reality. According to a Deloitte survey published in 2015, managers claimed that the area of learning and development was more important than ever and yet, at the same time, they admit that they’ve become even less prepared to meet learning and development needs.

Let’s make 2017 the year to turn things around. Here are four promising trends surrounding the measurement and assessment of corporate training program that can help get your company on the right track:

Measuring Corporate Training Programs1. Focus on Real Needs, First

Forget the bells and whistles of fancy corporate training programs for a moment, because it’s time to get back to basics which means deciding what your training needs really are. This seems like a crucial step in training development, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. Companies may chase after vendor-supplied corporate training programs that will claim to solve all of their problems (without understanding what those problems are), or they rely on the outdated in-house training they’ve always used—even if needs have shifted.

2017 will see a renewed effort to match up corporate training programs with real, demonstrated needs, rather than just going through the motions. This means taking stock of the company’s current realities by meeting with key leadership one on one and identifying what’s enabling your current level of success and what’s blocking you from going even higher.

 

2. Defining a Baseline for Measurement

In the same vein as the above, corporate training programs need to shift focus from what goes on during training to what happens before it begins. When it comes to measurement, that means clearly defining what you will measure as a result of the training. And, obviously, to measure improvement, you must first measure where you are.

In 2017, it’s time to get granular. Once you’ve established an understanding of your company’s “big picture” current reality, use measurement tools—like organizational surveys—to develop tangible numbers and specifics that speak to that reality. Developing a clear, specific baseline results in well-designed, responsive corporate training programs that make measuring ROI a whole lot easier.

3. Develop On-Demand Learning—and Measurement

The use of cutting-edge technology in corporate training programs has been on the rise for years. While nothing can replace immersive, experiential learning, there is most definitely a place for technology in training, especially as a learning retention tool.

Today’s workers—which is now composed of more than 53 million millennials—crave on-demand learning at their fingertips. To meet this craving, companies should look into developing retention programs that take the form of apps, which can work on computers and mobile phones and are fun, short, and effective. With up to 70 percent of training being lost to learning decay within just one week, easy-to-use and addictively engaging retention activities should help stop up the learning leak.

Plus, it’s easier and faster to track learning gains through technology. While employees are engaging in learning and retention games on their phones, companies are able to collect real-time data on learning improvements to measure progress. This allows them to make quicker decisions about changes to their corporate training programs or retention strategies. Watch for more of a focus not just on tech and learning but also on tech and measurement in 2017.

4. Bringing Training and Business Strategy Together

Perhaps the biggest trend in 2017 will be a continuation of the recent push to marry HR direction and business strategy—and measurement will play a huge role. As competition for highly skilled employees remains high, training and retaining top talent become just as much a strategic initiative as an HR one. Thus, determining ROI becomes more important than ever, as it’s an indication of whether your training is working or not, yes, but it’s also an indication of whether or not a company is retaining its competitive edge.

2017 can also be the year that companies dig deeper with assessments. In addition to more traditional assessment and measurement tactics like surveys and tests, companies should also explore how assessments can help prime the leadership pipeline—which should be a major strategic initiative for any forward-thinking organization. Companies can use post-training assessments to discover those employees who have made the largest learning gains, which is an impressive feat which higher-ups should take notice of. Plus, assessments of high performers before training can be used to identify the common competencies that a company’s highest performers share. Then, training can be designed to deliver those competencies, thus ensuring a pipeline of top talent ready to step into leadership roles when they are needed.

A clear strategy for measuring results is crucial to any successful corporate training program. What trends in measurement do you think we’ll see—or need to see—in 2017?

MichaelABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Reblogged from Eagles’s Flight.

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Most training managers agree that effective measurement is a major contributor to achieving improvement goals. However, is it possible that too much measurement can have a negative impact?. The answer is yes. Like chocolate or fine wine, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to training measurement.

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE MEASUREMENT PROBLEM IF…

The first step to solving any problem is identifying it. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to consider re-evaluating your measurement strategy:

  • Training measurement gets in the way of doing the actual work
  • Employees complain that it takes too much time to track all the data points
  • Complaints that there are too many tracking systems in place
  • You can’t find the time to prioritize and analyze the data.

Employee Training MeasurementWhile it’s true that good measurement data is essential for tracking progress, if you’re drowning in it you won’t be able to make any meaningful changes.

You might also like: Training & Development Secrets for Changing Behavior & Driving Organizational Growth

How do you solve this problem?

  • Cull your data points – Take a hard look at what you are currently measuring and how much of it you actually use. Chances are you could stop tracking certain data and never notice that it’s missing.
  • Streamline your measurement system – If employees have to spend an onerous amount of time entering data into a range of spreadsheets, your measurement strategy could be getting in the way of the job. Consider a digital measurement system that automates data collection and allows you to use a single platform across all departments.
  • Select the right measurement tools – Ensuring that you use the right tools for the job is a key factor in streamlining a measurement strategy. Switching to a digital system is a good first step, but within that you must select the appropriate combination of tools such as feedback surveys, knowledge quizzes, multi-rater assessments, and more.
  • Make sure you are using the most appropriate metrics – Every organization has unique goals, and your training measurement approach should be consistent with your internal objectives.

SELECT THE RIGHT METRICS

One problem that goes hand in hand with too much measurement is focusing on the wrong metrics. For example, metrics such as job satisfaction levels and training completions are important and valuable, but they don’t really give you the type of information that allows you to make meaningful improvements in the business. However, metrics that illuminate how the training is impacting individual jobs and the workplace as a whole will allow you to make more informed business decisions and more effectively measure training results.

For example, say you have identified a problem that many people are cancelling a software subscription because the program does not meet the purchaser’s expectations. You have determined that this is a result of the support team not sufficiently educating customers and have decided that it is worth investing in a training initiative to reduce these types of cancellations. In this case, a targeted measurement strategy might include:

How do you solve this problem?

  • Clearly define your training goals – Identify the problems you want to solve or areas for improvement and be as specific as possible.
    Example: Reduce subscription cancellations due to dissatisfaction by 25%.
  • Determine the relevant key performance indicators – Define what exactly you need to measure to monitor progress.
    Example: Track the number of customers who call to cancel versus those who subsequently decide to keep their subscription.
  • Measure consistently and often – Ongoing measurement allows you make course corrections along the way and identify which areas need improvement.
    Example: Gather subscription cancellation data for each member of the support team on a weekly basis and analyze it once each month.

This approach allows you to see which representatives are using the information delivered at the employee training, and which ones have not changed their approach to cancellation calls. Ongoing measurement enables you to take action such as refresher trainings, rewarding individuals who excel, and identifying other areas that need work.

There is no simple answer to how much training measurement is appropriate for every organization, but if you determine which data matters the most, streamline your measurement process, and use the data to produce meaningful results, you are on the right track.

MichaelABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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When it comes to your company’s sales training programs, are you just doing the same old, same old–with the same old results to show for it? Then it’s time to take a cue from successful sales training program, the kind that trainees rate as highly engaging and ROI stats prove are worth the money and effort to implement. We’ve worked with scores of companies with successful programs, and we’ve taken note of the characteristics they have in common. Here are three ways that sales training programs have adapted to today’s consumer to set themselves apart

3 Characteristics of Sales Training Programs That Are Actually Successful1. The emphasis is on meeting needs–not persuading.

Gone are the days when stereotypically slimy salespeople could manipulate their way into a sale–today’s consumers are just too smart for that. Most consumers have seen every sales trick under the sun, so they’re immune to most of the “persuasive” sales tactics that many sales training programs still teach. Consumers have not only become increasingly skeptical of traditional sales tactics, but they’ve become increasingly sophisticated as well—and they demand sophisticated sales solutions to match. In a world where you can customize everything down to the automated voice of your phone’s GPS system, clients crave custom solutions that fit their needs.

To thrive in today’s sales landscape, sales training programs must teach trainees to adopt a customer centric mindset. That means that selling is no longer about persuading—it’s not even about the product. It’s about meeting the customer’s idiosyncratic needs. The beauty of this approach, of course, is that salespeople don’t need to persuade or manipulate, because they’re approaching the sale from a place of giving—and listening. Successful sales training programs today should focus just as much on effective listening and communication skills, as they do on more traditional, persuasive sales skills. In order for a customer’s needs to be met, they must first be heard.

Transform Your Selling With The Sales M.B.A Model

2. Encourage Salespeople to Think and Act like Experts

Part of what’s fueling the increasing sophistication of today’s consumers is the ease with which they can research products and solutions for themselves. When a salesperson walks into a meeting with a potential client, he or she must assume the prospect has already Googled his or her company—and the company’s competitors.

In order to keep sales teams one step ahead of consumers, sales training programs today must transform their trainees into experts—not just salespeople. That means being an expert in the product or service they’re selling, the client’s company, and the client’s industry as a whole. Effective sales training programs will equip trainees with the skills and techniques needed to research and develop in-depth customer profiles so that they can walk into a meeting prepared to dazzle a client with their executive presence and a deep well of knowledge. Think of today’s successful salesperson as a consultant who provides value to a prospect even before a solution is delivered by pointing out potential problem areas that a client has yet to perceive. A salesperson can only step into that consultative role if he or she embraces the need for expertise.

3. Instill Long-Term Behavior Change

Successful sales training programs are responsible for not just teaching new sales skills and strategies, but making that teaching stick. Your sales-team trainees need to not only know what to do (approach sales with a consultative, customer centric attitude, for instance), but know how and when to do it. That combination of what, how, and when is what leads to real and lasting behavior change.

So, how do sales training programs deliver real behavior change? They take a two-pronged approach: immersive experiences during training and a follow-up strategy that reinforces what was taught. Instead of passive content delivery (i.e. PowerPoint presentations and the like), successful sales training programs combine learning and practice in one fell swoop through experiential learning activities. Experiential learning is essentially learning by doing, where participants learn and practice new skills through immersive, hands-on activities that mimic on-the-job scenarios. By building practice into the learning itself, experiential learning sales training programs remain a big step ahead of traditional training programs that assume participants will practice their new skills after the program ends.

But building practice into training isn’t enough—permanent behavior change only occurs when it’s reinforced effectively. Smart sales training programs design retention strategies that keep new skills top of mind for trainees, long after they’ve left the training event. From retention “games” that make learning fun to testing that measures program success and room for improvement, retention is the final piece that ensures a well-rounded, ROI-focused sales training program that delivers lasting behavior change.

Have you had success with your own sales training programs? If so, what other characteristics contributed to your success? If not, what characteristics do you think were missing?

About the Author

JohnSince 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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