Often it doesn’t matter how powerful your change story is, how well you have been able to clarify its meaning, or how well you have ensured that you are not the only one living this message – there will still be some lingering doubt. “Is it necessary? Can’t we wait a little longer?” You will repeatedly hear such questions, even if you are already in the process of change. How do you cul- tivate a more profound belief?
To reinforce your change message, there is often no one better to explain with credibility and precision “why now” than the customer. This can be an internal or an external customer, although the impact of an external voice is often more significant.
Direct, unfiltered customer feedback to larger organisations often doesn’t reach everyone. That is why it is even more important for change leaders and enablers to make them heard. The following example illustrates how you could do this.
The director of a multinational’s division sees that the outside world is changing fast er than her organisation realises: people are insufficiently aware of the everevolving customer demands. As a result, the organisation brings innovations to market that do not work and sets the wrong priorities about which improvement processes should be given precedence.
The director wants the actual customer demands to resonate throughout the organ isation. She draws up a questionnaire, interviews many customers, and asks several colleagues to do the same. All the conversations are recorded. She then brings 75 man agers and senior employees together in a room. The light is dimmed, and the room is hushed. Then she plays back all feedback given by the customers word for word, cus tomer by customer, including the frank feedback with concrete examples.
The feedback gets through to those present in the room. Some are shocked; for others, it’s a confirmation of what they know already. Either way, the customers’ voice is more distinct and tangible than ever. As a result, conversations start about which activities contribute to which customer demand. In addition, managers feel encouraged to gather and research customer feedback themselves.
Tip for change leader
Take a good look at the processes in your organisation. Which departments are barely exposed, or not at all, to feedback from internal or external customers as part of their everyday work? Make sure access is facilitated.
Tip for change enabler
The power of this intervention increases if, straight afterwards, you focus on the ques tion: So now what? We understand what the customer wants to tell us now, so what will we do about it? This forces teams to define targeted actions towards a better customer experience.
Ensure everyone can access instant customer feedback in production, admin- istration or marketing. This way, you ensure that everyone feels the “heat” of what customers need.