Authenticity needs practice

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In the many years I have been working with large organisations to shift the mindset around customer centricity, I have seen a division occur. It seems we’ve decided that customers are different from employees in terms of their values. Sure, customers are different from employees from their activities, problems they are trying to solve and motivations, though their values are not that different. Especially, the deeper held values that often inform how people like to be treated and interacted with.

Here are two important reasons why you should have the same values informing your corporate culture and your customer experience:

Authenticity can’t be faked and needs practice

A key ingredient to positive interactions with people, inside (employees) or outside (customers) your organisation, is authenticity. Authenticity doesn’t always come naturally to us in a business context. In fact, it doesn’t come naturally in our social context either sometimes, so we need practice.

The best scenario is that your personal values are also shared by your work place, so there is a true alignment present from the beginning. Importantly, those values also inform how customers are treated. When there is a gap between the values espoused and enacted within an organisation verses those outside an organisation, dissonance occurs. When this happens, customers feel they are not being dealt with authentically and all efforts for superior customer experience doesn’t seem to hit their mark.

For example, if one of the organisational values is to have integrity and honesty in all communication with each other, this should also be present with all interactions with the customer. There are many ‘good’ reasons why businesses find this difficult, and mostly because of compliance or legal frameworks. Having one set of rules for your employees and another set of rules for customers sets up a tricky web to manage.

It’s easier to be good at customer experience

When the business is set up to have the same values informing interactions between each other and with customers it becomes increasingly easy to provide an exceptional customer experience. Mostly because you are doing it all the time, and you don’t necessarily need to change what informs what you do or say when you’re speaking with a customer.

For example, to ensure the value of integrity and honesty is also expressed with your customer, and depending on which industry you are in, work will need to be done to understand how this value informs all interactions with your customer. If you have this value internally, but are asking your staff to only give partial information due to compliance concerns, dissonance exists and inauthenticity is felt. It is important that these scenarios are deliberately and meaningfully designed for.

Having the least amount of barriers between your organisation and your customers is the clearest and easiest path to authentic customer experiences.

This was first published on Huffington Post