A good organisational culture is the key to great customer experience. Simply put – the employee experience leads to the customer experience. Understanding what organisational culture is and how it leads to customer experience is vital to the success of your business and your brand.
What is Organisational Culture?
Let’s first understand what organisational culture is and what impact it has on a business. Organisational Culture is defined as ‘the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation.’ According to The Business Dictionary (2018), organisational culture includes an organisation’s expectations, experiences, philosophy and values that hold it together. It is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid.
Business Dictionary (2018) has identified some elements that outline an organisation’s culture;
- the way the organisation conducts its business and treats its employees, customers, and its community
- the extent to which employees have freedom in decision making, developing new ideas, and personal expression
- how power and information flow through the organisation’s hierarchy
- how committed employees are towards collective objectives.
Organisational culture is closely related to an organisation’s productivity and employee performance levels while showcasing customer service and customer care. This is the overall representation of an organisation – how they want to be viewed as well as how they view themselves.
What is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts;
- The customer journey
- The touchpoints the customer has with the brand
- All of the environments the customer experiences (including the digital environment) during their experience
A good customer experience means that the customer’s experience during all points of contact with your business and brand coincides with their expectations.
In today’s business market, it has become evident that companies need to focus on creating “experiences” for customers – this means getting your consumers completely involved in your brand. This way of interacting with consumers led Pine and Gilmore (1999:ix-x) to expand on their view of the service economy. They transformed it into an attention economy, an entertainment economy, an emotion economy or an experience economy.
A brief explanation of each of these is;
- Attention economy: this is an approach to the management of information which sees human attention as a scarce commodity, and applies economic theories to solve various information management problems. This means that understanding that consumers will have a short attention span when it comes to your organisation is important – you need to do as much as possible in a short space of time to enhance your consumer’s experience.
- Entertainment economy: people are now seeking entertainment value along with their purchases. Products and services need to be exciting, enticing, amusing and informing as these are critical parts of making a sale. Products and services now need to deal with desires more than needs as consumers tend to want to get more out of what they purchase, leading even more into the experience you give your consumers.
- Emotion economy: with the ever-growing increase in technological capabilities – people are able to spend more time doing human interaction type tasks and less time doing intellectual tasks that can now be automated. Functional work will be done by artificial intelligence software, and the remaining core staff in a business will be focused on caring for customers. The focus will be on tailoring services to each specific individual and their needs. These employees will be highly skilled and trained in emotional intelligence.
- Experience economy: businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product – the experience. More advanced experience driven businesses will have an organisational culture focused solely on what a consumer will experience, how to heighten their experience and keep them coming back for more. The product and service are not the core function of a business but what memories a business can create for its customers.
According to Mascarenhas (2006:398-399), organisations that apply total customer experience principles have the following features in common:
- Anticipating and fulfilling customer needs and wants better than competitors do
- Providing real customer experiences
- Providing a real emotional experience
- Providing experience as a distinct market offering
- Utilising experiences as interaction
- Changing experiences into engaging memories
Becoming a leader in CX will transform your company and you will be able to transcend your offering by backing your CX with an incredible organisational culture.
How are these concepts related?
We are living in an age where the focus is on the customer. What does that mean exactly? It means that your customers are being offered, and have been for some time, unforgettable experiences. Creating and instilling a “culture” of customer service in which employees are encouraged and expected to go to great lengths to satisfy customers is the leading example of a successful organisation. High performing organisations work to create an environment where employees focus on customer satisfaction in each encounter, every day. This requires a massive culture shift away from what is convenient for the organisation to what is needed by the consumer.
Trying to get your entire organisation on the same page is no easy feat, but a misalignment of this magnitude will inevitably create confusion across different departments, unnecessary delays in everything from response times to product launches, and puts you at an incredible competitive disadvantage. By aligning your organisational culture with CX, you’re ensuring your employees feel empowered to do everything they possibly can to ensure the customer gets the perfect overall experience – from start to finish.
Delivering a ‘human experience’ will require organisations to be purposeful, cognitive, adaptive, and conscious, in addition to delivering great CX that is easy, relevant and orchestrated. This means it is important for your company to move away from purely commercial intent to human commitment. You will then need to empower employees to wow consumers without permission or instruction and you would need to show appreciation when your employees do so.
Organisational culture and CX go hand-in-hand in ensuring the success of your organisation and your brand. Employees are encouraged to focus on the “consumer always being right” and allow for the best consumer experience. Employers should instil a sense of belonging and loyalty in their employees to carry out this culture.
Business Dictionary. (2018). Organisational Culture. Available at: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/organizational-culture.html Accessed 19 February 2019.
Mascarenhas, O.A., Kesavan, R. & Bernacchi, M. (2006). Lasting customer loyalty: a total customer experience approach. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 23(7):397-405.
Pine, B.J. & Gilmore, J.H. (1999). The experience economy. Boston: Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data.