Webinar Roundup: CX Transformation & Learning from Constant Change with Greg Scholes
While the world might have been forced to evolve quickly to handle the impact of the pandemic, customer expectations have changed very little. With most people having reached a point of fatigue with what has unfolded as a hectic year, customers and employees will be less forgiving of negative experiences, interactions or change within an organisation.
As this period of upheaval continues, we felt it was important to explore how business leaders are learning and adapting during this current state of constant change, whilst also trying to keep their customers and employees happy in one of our digital roundtable sessions.
To help us unpack this hot topic, we had the help of our guest speaker, customer experience and people-led change and transformation expert, Greg Scholes. Greg's wealth of experience in leading positive, sustainable, customer and employee focused change to big-name organisations like Travelport, Sky and Three has led to the creation of a brand-new approach to help companies in need adapt to the changes brought on by COVID. In other words, he was the perfect person to spearhead this informative session.
Heroes and Villains
Greg started the session by explaining that the session would give all of the attendees the opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on their change and transformations. He said, “We get so wrapped up in the moment that we don’t stop, pause and look to see what’s going on out there. For any change and transformation, we almost forget what it all means to our customers and to our people.”
He then encouraged the attendees to share which companies they felt had been ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’ since the outbreak of the pandemic. Amazon, Tesco and First Direct were popular choices within the hero column, with BA, Zoom and Sky being recurring choices for the villain column. The attendee's reasons for these villain choices ranged from lack of communication to exploiting customers to a sudden increase in prices to staff shortages.
It’s easy to point the finger at which companies have done well or not so well during these strange and uncertain times. But what about when it comes to talking about yourself? To help the attendees consider this point, Greg asked what they thought their customers or employees might stay about the way their organisations have handled the pandemic.
Many of the attendees were honest about the struggles they’ve faced in recent months. One of the biggest challenges mentioned was the pressure of working with a smaller or dispersed team, due to many having to put many employees on furlough and which has then caused a knock-on effect on their customer service.
When it came to their employees, many said they had introduced measures to increase communication with remote workers to keep them engaged and productive, but they felt they are still unable to ‘solve the uncertainty they felt’. One attendee also said he had also experienced increasing levels of cynicism towards senior management from employees as a result of potential job losses.
Greg then went on to ask the attendees to discuss the key behaviours of what they considered to be hero companies. Naturally, the most popular answers revolved around communication and people, such as compassion, empathy, honesty and personable service.
This exercise sparked an interesting discussion between the attendees about how remote working had impacted their organisations. While many commended the increased productivity and convenience of the new virtual environments we now use, such as Zoom and Teams, many were hopeful that customers and employees alike would be craving a sense of normality and embrace the new novelty of wanting to meet face to face.
One attendee said, “While remote working has been a great short-term initiative, I think from a customer and employee perspective, there will be a huge pent-up desire and expectations to go back to normal soon. They will want to able to do something next year and hopefully, that pent up drive will come through across all sectors and areas. This is something we need to prepare for.”
When discussing the villain company’s traits late on in the session, inconsistency was an answer that was mentioned multiple times. A lack of consistency within an organisation’s practices and communication can result in customers being offered different experiences and solutions, which in turn can cause confusion and upset. The attendees and Greg all agreed that honesty over the problems causing an inconsistent service could help to remove some of the customer's ire.
In order to stay in business, many organisations have had to adapt to remote ways of working this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s been an easy transition for everyone. A few of the attendees commented on the negative perceptions some members of their leadership teams had about remote working during the first lockdown. Unfortunately, this lack of trust and buy-in caused anxiety amongst their teams which then had an impact on productivity.
However, this inability to adapt to a new way of working initially has gradually subsided as these leaders have had more hands-on experience of remote working themselves. One attendees commented that “If all the people who didn’t believe in remote working back in Feb were asked about their perception of it now, I think 70-80% will have now changed their view- simply because they’ve been forced to experience it themselves.”
Greg finished the session by discussing the importance of maintaining the positive attributes we’ve gained from the ‘new normal’ we’ve all helped to create this year and to not fall back into old ways of working.
One attendee talked about how they want to continue creating a safe haven for his employees to communicate with one another moving forward, whereas another said they wanted to maintain the quicker pace of decision-making.
“Companies had a common purpose and a why at the start of the pandemic. But they need to recognise that they need to be continually open to change- they cannot do what they’ve done before. To move forward, empowerment and accountability need to come from the top down. We’ve given people more empowerment and accountability than ever before and we now need to make sure we don’t take this away. But most importantly, organisations need to have continued empathy for their customers and employees situations” said Greg.
While none of us knows what the future holds, it is clear that keeping customers and employees happy is essential to survival, regardless of how its achieved. But thanks to the insights from Greg and our digital roundtable attendees, it’s reassuring to see that this continues to be a top priority for many, even during an immense period of change and uncertainty.
For more information about CX transformation during the current pandemic, you can get in touch with Greg here. If you’d like to take part in our next digital roundtable event, contact the Deltra team here to register your interest.