Great Customer Experience Starts with the Home Team
- March 10, 2014
For the better part of a decade, I’ve been working on designing, building and configuring enterprise-wide reporting tools and platforms. In my current role, I help companies win and retain customers by empowering employees with consumer feedback. In most cases, these initiatives stretch across organizations, and consequently, cross-functional teams are created to work together toward a common goal.
Regardless of the stature of the brand or the given industry, implementations of enterprise-wide reporting platforms tend to face similar challenges, especially as they pertain to the actual functioning of a cross-functional team.
Stakeholders are gathered. Subject-matter experts enlisted. Meetings are scheduled. Sitting at the table, they all must weigh in and work collaboratively to deliver results. Sometimes the team dynamics are fantastic, and other times the group never coalesces as a team, remaining instead as a collection of individuals from separate departments.
I find the following key characteristics distinguish highly performing multi-disciplinary endeavors from the less successful teams. Productive teams:
- Recognize they may not all speak the same language and invest time up-front to get everyone using a common vernacular to increase understanding and real collaboration. As an IT guy, I have certainly used technical jargon in meetings with non-technical business partners who not-so-surprisingly thought I was speaking a foreign language. Now, early in projects, I work to define key terms and try to avoid the famous 3 letter acronyms that are meaningful to developers and DBAs but not my research partners.
- Integrate “Problem Processing” into the process. People don’t know how to bring up uncomfortable issues and consequently may avoid them altogether. Small issues can quietly chip away at the team and negatively impact the final output. To avoid these types of failures, create a systematic approach for identifying stumbling blocks or concerns, and then another process for digging into them. Make sure the culture of the team lets people discuss the “un-discussables” to facilitate open communication that doesn’t feel personal.
- Agree up front how conflicts will be resolved. Sometimes pressure exists for team members to compromise, yet meeting in the middle can result in a less than ideal solution. And, we all know that stubbornness can stifle creative problem solving. Developing a formal protocol for airing conflicting points of view can help people feel heard while producing solutions that are more likely to succeed.
Team work is hard business but challenges can be overcome with the right leadership, culture and process. If developing dynamite Customer Experience is a goal for your company goal, start “at home.” The home-team dynamics will allow everyone to work efficiently, depend on each other, and keep their attention squarely where it belongs: on your customers.